We L-O-V-E New Zealand! If you read our previous post on our kiwi trip, you will have no doubts that we had wonderful time there. BUT if your budget is quite tight (like ours) still you want to make the most of your travels it is good to consider a couple of things in advance. We tried to collect some useful tips for you that made or would have made (if we had known before) our trip (even more) amazing.
– Plan enough time: it is not a huge country, but there is so much to see and it is so freaking far away from practically everything else that you don’t want to miss the best places just because you had no time for them.
– Especially if you didn’t follow tip no.1 and you didn’t plan enough time (at least 2-3 months), don’t even consider planning your trip without a car. There are buses and trains of course, but they are expensive and they do not give you the flexibility of stopping at every stunning lookout point you see on the way to take a photo. (and there are so many of them!)
– If you have no other option and you plan your trip without a car, plan it in advance: the cheapest bus company, Naked bus, sells “early bird” tickets at an unbelievably low price: you pay literally just a few bucks if you book in time (a couple of months before your trip). But even if you book it last minute, Naked bus is way cheaper than any other bus companies in NZ.
– Hitch-hiking is New Zealand is relatively safe – of course you should be cautious as it is a risky business everywhere – and it really works. If you want to learn more about our experience with hitch-hiking, click here) It is actually a common way of getting around the country among backpackers. You can be lucky and just find someone who takes you to your planned destination, but there is no guarantee, of course. I would recommend hitch-hiking to people who are flexible about their itinerary. And girls, if you have the chance, take someone with you!
– Hostels are very tidy in New Zealand but the prices are quite high, so if you are on a tight budget, it is great to find an alternative at least for a few nights. Couchsurfing is a great way not only to save some money on accommodation but also to get in touch with local people. (Read about our couchsurfing experiences here and here) You learn much more about the culture and the society than you could ever learn from a guidebook.
– As much as I adore this country, I can’t deny that their food is just terrible. There is no such thing as New Zealand cuisine. So giving out huge amounts of money on eating out in crappy &/or expensive restaurants is such a waste. My tip is: get your food from the supermarket (pak n save is the cheapest one) and save your money for adventures and more fun.
– If you have the chance to choose the time of your New Zealand trip, opt for the summer months. Although winter is not especially cold here, combined with the strong wind, it can be very unpleasant. Plus snow might stop you from having certain adventures. (eg. We could not do the Tongariro crossing, one of the world’s most famous 1-day tracking tours because of the bad weather conditions.) Not to mention those wonderful beaches we didn’t have the chance to try.
We made most of the mistakes I mentioned above – planning the short too time, going without a car, not booking bus tickets in advance and all this in winter – and we had the best time ever anyway. New Zealand is a wonderful country, so if you have the chance to visit it any time of the year by car, by bus or on foot, please don’t miss it!
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