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How to travel cheaply in New Zealand: A WHV Backpacker review.


Are you thinking to move abroad and New Zealand is one of your first choices? 

Let’s discuss about the cost of living, the pros and the cons and the environment you would find once there.

Like Australia, Canada, Japan and other appealing countries, New Zealand offers the possibility to stay inside its territory through a discrete number of different visas. The main and most diffuse one among Europeans and South Americans is the Working Holiday Visa. This type of visa is generally given to young people between 18 and 30 years old, and until 35 years old for few countries. This allows you to stay in the country up to one year, our 1 year and 3 months if you comply with the remote work scheme. Canadian and British passport holders are gifted with 28 and 36 months visa validity, respectively. 

I suggest to take a look on the immigration department website to get all the updated information.

working holiday visa application in new zealand

But let’s talk about numbers and money. 

New Zealand is certainly one of the dream destinations for quality of life, rights, job opportunity and safety. But when you are at the supermarket’s checkout counter all the previous awards do not matter as much as the money you are about to spend. 

In the last year, inflation in New Zealand translated into an insane and no sense waste of money, especially in groceries.

During the summer season, from late October to early April, is literally impossible to find a bed in a shared room for less than 60 NZD. 

In July, I tried to book a van for a couple of weeks in December, after comparing all the main rental companies prices (Kiwi rentals, Jucy, Apollo, Traveller Autobahn, Maui), the lowest fare I was asked (for a converted car, not a van) was 5000 NZD!

You agree with me that this is not a fair and feasible deal.

After my experience in the country I want to share with you all the tips and tricks to save as much money as possible without missing New Zealand natural beauty and its outrageous number of sheep.

I will talk about saving money on:

  • Accommodation

  • Transport

  • Grocery

how many sheep in new zealand ph Beatrice Da Fre


Workaway is an online platform in where people usually offer accommodation and food in exchange of a little help with the project they are into. Most of the time is just cleaning, gardening or babysitting but there are also other task from helping to create content for their business to manage their customers or teaching yoga. The platform requires an annual subscription and it cost around 30 Euro. Most of the time in exchange you will get also great stories, a local perspective and further help with your stay in the country.

This is a great possibility considering that the first weeks after your arrival you are not earning money, you have to get a bank account or relative documents that requires time. Therefore, spending as little money as possible is always a great idea. 

For example, I spent my first month in New Zealand as a workawayer. I learnt a lot about the Kiwi’s culture and animals. I also had a permanent address to get my documents shipped to. They also provided me a car throughout my stay to explore the surrounding area. 

workaway new zealand

Work in an Hostel/Campsite: as everywhere in the world, working in a place where the main purpose is hosting people for the night will get you a place to stay as well. This does not mean that every place will give you a bed for free, but most of the time a big discount.

The biggest and most famous hostels are Nomads, BBH and YHA, take a look on their websites and apply before the season starts. The same is valid for campsites: the biggest chain is TOP 10 and is everywhere in both islands. 

Woofing works mostly as Workaway but just with organic farms. This website provides connection with farms and in exchange guests give practical and cultural help on lifestyle blocks, self-sufficient homesteads, and organic gardens.

Couchsurfing requires a subscription fee and provides you a huge list of people kind to offer you a couch where to sleep for free. This is a excellent and healthy way to meet people and share stories. 

Find a remote farm job: most of the time people advertising for a remote farm job are willing to give you a free accommodation as an extra of your pay rate. This is not a rule but I heard a lot of people ending up beekeeping, picking fruits or just cleaning the properties that received accommodation, food and even a payslip. This happen because they are usually located in the middle of nowhere and no one is kind to go there. The best option to find this opportunities is Facebook groups or talking with people. 


Buy a van: it might seem controversial, but If you are planning to stay more than three months in the country you should start consider buying, instead of renting. There is a good amount of offer and you will easily get something in good condition for a bit more than 10 grants. Obviously, it depends if you have that budget: sometimes is great to travel with someone else, I know people that met in hostels and eventually decided to buy a van together. This is an option you would like to consider. 

There are some platforms like TradeMe where you can peer various vehicles and decide which suits you better. Another great tool are Facebook groups in which people actively post about their items on sale. 

Having a van is also a nice start to find a job: most of the employers could not afford to provide you a room, but if you have a place where to sleep the problems disappear. Keep in mind that in New Zealand is illegal to free camp. However, there are plenty of free camp available that you can discover with CamperMate app. Generally, a paid campsite with facilities starts from 40$ per night. 

road trip new zealand ph Beatrice Da Fre

Hitchhiking in New Zealand is super easy! Probably is one of the best place to do that. The people are always kind to drive you for some miles and help you out. Most of the time because they did it as well. 

Bus: taking the public transport in New Zealand is not actually the best option. Buses between cities are not what you define cheap. For Example a 2 hours drive will cost you 40$ and there are just some routes available. However, If you have to move inside a city, they are probably the choice. I recommend buying and topping up the card because the fare is almost half of the fare applied if you pay cash. More information on the government transport website.

Trains: New Zealand’s train system is not the best in the world and definitely not the fastest and cheapest, but is a scenic option to reach places distant each other. If your goal is save as much as possible I would rather consider flying. 


Grocery prices in New Zealand are getting out of control. You will easily exit the supermarket with a 40$ receipt and 5 basic items like eggs, bread, cereals and milk. 

In 2024, I spent my money in all the existing stores and I will provide you a supermarket prices comparison. 

Countdown: better known ad Woolworth in Australia, is the leading chain and probably one of the most expensive one. Anyway, if you are looking for fresh Sushi, Parmiggiano Reggiano or a high quality meat that is your place. Probably the other supermarket selling internationally known brands is Fresh Choice.

countdown new zealand

Fresh Choice: This is without any doubts the most expensive one. If you are trying to save up that is not your place.

Mini-markets or convenience stores are presente everywhere. All of them, but especially the most remote ones are mostly selling just few items with crazy prices.

Foursquare: this is a place you are hoping to see on google maps as soon as you reach a city. their prices are still high, but much more convenient in respect to the others.

four square new zealand

NewWorld: It is a good compromise between high quality supermarket and contained prices. I always bought quality items without being ripped off. 

PACK’n’SAVE: this is the only real discount New Zealand has and the most popular and cheapest option. However, unlike the others it is not present everywhere. 

If you reckon this article has been useful in some way or you have anything you would like to add/tell please do so! It might be useful for everybody.


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