Language and Culture Travel

Travelling New Zealand on a student budget


New Zealand is a place of endless green, rolling hills, wineries, sheep and cattle. It is only a 3-hour flight away from the Gold Coast or Brisbane to Auckland airport and is budget friendly for those seeking a scenic escape.

About $250 will buy you a return airfare from the Gold Coast airport or Brisbane airport. Coupling that with a $550 campervan and you have yourself a budget mobile home for 9 days. Cheap fly and drive deals are constantly promoted online, offering students an affordable getaway that isn’t going to break the budget. New Zealand dollars are comparable to Aussie currency, fetching about $1.10 to our dollar and some banks like ANZ won’t charge you ATM fees for withdrawals. Prices for goods and services are also relative, alcohol is a bit cheaper and a gourmet pie will set you back about $3.50. However, the kiwis will sting you at the bowser with fuel between $1.85-$2 a litre.

New Zealand is known as the freedom camping country, this means you can stay the night in free sites (if they’re not already taken) and save money on accommodation. A couple of free apps I can recommend are CamperMate and Rankers Camping NZ. For a paid camping app with a few extra features is WikiCamps New Zealand. We mostly used CamperMate because of the offline map option and user reviews. These reviews allowed us to make a decision on certain campsites and places to visit along our journey.

Enjoying a cup of tea with the friendly hobbits at Hobbiton

In 9 days, my boyfriend and I looped the north island, visiting places between Cape Reinga in the north to Cape Pallister in the south. Besides the costly fuel, our only modification in hindsight would be not to drive SO much. Still, with adventures in places like Hobbiton, Cathedral Cove, Waipo Caves, the Pinnacles, rafting in Rotorua and surfing in Raglan, we were able to rack up dozens of memorable experiences.

New Zealand is filled with rich cultural history, especially the Kauri trees located on the north island. In Maori culture, these trees hold the spirit of the forest, particularly Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta

He is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tane separates his parents from each other until his father the sky is high above mother earth. Tane then clothed his mother with vegetation and the birds and the trees of the forest are regarded as Tane’s children. Tane Mahuta means “Lord of the Forest” in Maori language. Tane’s age is unknown but he is believed to be 1,500 – 2,500 thousand years old and is the largest Kauri tree known today.

With so many sights to see you will never be short of activities to do and places to see. Travelling in a campervan was a great option because we could drive anywhere, camp in selected sites and cook our meals on the road. Instead of eating out and ordering takeaway constantly we opted to buy groceries every couple of days and make our meals in the van, this saved us so much money and we were able to put the cash towards fuel and experiences instead.

– Haley


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