Best Ways To Travel NZ This Summer On A Budget

New Zealand is one of those countries you want to explore as much as possible. I mean, with sweeping mountain views, beaches that actually warm you up, and hot springs and mud baths, you would be a fool for not wanting to get out and see the country! The unfortunate thing about NZ, however, is it can be a more expensive country to travel.

But for those of us on a budget but still want to see as much of NZ as possible, we have you covered with all the tips and tricks you could possible want to help you see NZ on a budget this summer!


Even if you aren’t a camper, you might change your mind when you see some of the amazing campsites available in New Zealand. Plus, the serious cash you can save while free or very cheap camping for a long weekend getaway will likely change your mind even more. The money you save from camping can allow you to spend more money on awesome activities, like bungee jumping in Queenstown or wild boar hunting in Wanganui. Below are a few of our favourite low cost campsites, and a few tips to get you there.


  • Haast Pass has a variety of amazing campsites with a nominal fee and stunning views. Try the Cameron Flat campsite for a simple but beautiful site.
  • Near Queenstown is the beautiful Sylvan Campsite where you can easily access trails, including one of the great walks, the Routeburn walk.   
  • For an excellent North Island option, try the Fantail Bay campsite, where you can be close to the beautiful Coromandel peninsula.


  • NZ can be a changeable country in regards to its weather, so you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for all kinds of conditions. Having warm clothing and warm bedding will save you from an entire night shivering in your tent, and keep you comfortable in case a fire isn’t an option, like during a fire ban.
  • Doing your research might sound boring and with little reward, but sometimes the reward can be knowing if there are toilets or not at your campsite! Do a little bit of prep beforehand to know what kind of amenities you’ll have or not have at your site, and if there’s another campsite nearby that suits your needs better.
  • Always remember to leave no trace when you camp. This means not only picking up after yourself when you leave the site, but also choosing well established sites versus creating a new one.

Van life

The best part by far about hiring a van to see a country is your mobility. You can travel all over both islands and stop whenever you want and still have your little temporary home on wheels. Think about cooking breakfast while watching the waves roll in, or watching the stars from your van’s bed! The options are limitless and allow you to go anywhere while still sticking to a budget. Below are a few great van routes and tips for having a budget friendly trip.


  • Take the van for a spin down to the South Island and drive from Christchurch to Hokitika via Arthur’s pass. Swing through Haast Pass, Wanaka and Queenstown, then hit up Mount Aoraki/Mount Cook on your way back to Christchurch. This will hit some of the most incredible views and be a road trip that is often rated one of the most beautiful in the entire world.
  • If you’re looking to see both islands in a trip, make sure to take the Interislander ferry if possible! The three hour journey lets you see the beautiful bay of Wellington and watch the South Island loom larger as you wind through the sounds into Picton.
  • Cape Reinga is a gorgeous trip from anywhere on the North Island and is a great place to set up shop with your van for a while if you need a break.


  • Find a van that will suit all your needs. If you are looking for something that uses less petrol and packs up easily, you can probably get away with a regular campervan. For those who want more headroom and a proper kitchen and bathroom, you should aim for a motorhome hire.
  • Stay organised as much as possible in your van, as you won’t have a lot of room for extras. Meal plan as much as possible so you utilise all your ingredients, and keep your living quarters clean and tidy so you can find what you need instead of digging through piles!
  • Choose your campsites wisely, especially your parking spot. Since your van is your sleeping quarters, try and find a place that’s level and dark.

Budget accommodation

For those looking to drive their own car or a rental, but aren’t wanting to rough it in a tent or van, there is plenty of budget accommodation from Rotorua to Queenstown and everywhere in between.


  • Family Farm stays are a great way to get off the beaten path and still enjoy all the amenities of a lodge. Try looking for all inclusive options to take all the work of planning out of your trip.
  • Holiday parks are all over NZ and usually have options for any kind of traveler. Small cabins and rooms are often much cheaper than a hotel room, but are comfortable and have showers and laundry onsite.
  • Hostels are another excellent way to see NZ and meet friends along the way. If you aren’t keen on sharing a room with a bunch of strangers, remember that many hostels have private rooms available too.


  • Try and book ahead as much as possible. There’s nothing worse than frantically trying to find mobile reception to Google the nearest hotel, only to find it booked or have the most expensive room left!
  • Look for accommodation that has cooking facilities to save money on your food budget.
  • Check out sites like AirBNB for other options besides your typical hotel and hostel rooms. Sometimes you may find a bargain!

With a bit of planning and some flexibility, we hope you are able to create your incredible NZ trip this summer that fits perfectly in your budget!

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