Amazing natural parks, friendly cities, and a rich cultural diversity—New Zealand has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, despite what a beautiful place and wonderful holiday destination the “Land of the Long White Cloud” is, the high cost of living there can be a serious obstacle to those wishing to have an extended and relaxed trip around the country. If you hope to enjoy a long tour of the country, you need to be smart about your finances.
Step 1? Campervans. Why this way of living has evolved to near-perfection in New Zealand as it has failed to do so in other questions is a mystery, but the fact remains—you can rent the best wilderness campervans in the country at a low price, take advantage of all the freedom of travel and savings on accommodation, and make the drive itself a very memorable part of the experience.
With food and transportation covered, all you really have to worry about are food and activity expenses. Meals get drastically cheaper outside of the cities, adding to the appeal of a New Zealand campervan holiday that takes in more of the countryside. When it comes to paying for activities, there is enough variety that you can have a lot of fun without spending much. For example, most visitors to the north island know about the volcanic fields at Rotorua, famous for its mud baths and hot springs. While this can be a worthwhile spot, it is more fun (and cheaper) to head to nearby Kerosene Creek. This unappealingly named creak steams with geothermal energy and bubbles over into waterfalls and pools perfect for swimming during all weather. Camp near there and chill with the locals, and avoid the crowds at Rotorua’s concrete mud pits.
Another famous site is Waitomo, a few hours from Auckland, which is known for caves full of glow worms. The majority of the caves are run by large, commercial operators that are used to rushing a high volume of tourists through as quickly as possible. An alternative is to ask around and find the Ruakuri Natural Tunnel Walk nearby, which is run locally and has a free entrance. Fewer people come through, which means that tripod photography is possible to catch the beautiful luminescence of the glow worm larvae.
Another free site near Aukland is Rangitoto Island, a volcanic cone that takes an hour or so to climb. The tranquil island has almost no development whatsoever, making it an attractive escape from the city with great views and no entrance fee (beyond the ferry ticket, of course). Bring a picnic lunch and your camera, and plan to spend a pleasant afternoon. Just don’t miss the last ferry back—there is no overnight accommodation on the island.
If you’re concerned about money, there are always ways to save. The most important thing is just that you enjoy your holiday. Good luck!