Our budget for 5 months in New Zealand living a campervan life

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I have already written 11 articles about New Zealand including the truth about campervan life, everything you need to know about buying a campervan, off the beaten places of South Island, etc …
This time I will focus mainly on a budget and a financial matter, describing how much we spent on particular items within 5 months of our journey across South and North Island of New Zealand. Let it be helpful to all those travelling to the country of Lord of the Rings and millions of sheep.

New Zealand currency

Firstly, the main currency of New Zealand is a New Zealand dollar. An equivalent of 1 euro is around NZ$1,76 (June, 2023). It was possible to pay for everything by card all around New Zealand, though sometimes the cash was necessary. Mainly for paying the campsites.

Typical expenses of campervan life

To the most typical expenses of campervan life naturally belong the gas (petrol), food and campsites. And the initial and the highest expense is buying a campervan.

BUYING & SELLING CAMPERVANS

We bought our Bula – Mazda Bongo 2009 a self-contained campervan for 5800 euro (that time around NZ$9775) in January, 2023 – summer season. And luckily, we sold it for 5500 euro (that time the NZ dollar dropped quite a lot so it was around NZ$9500). However, most prices in winter time drop drastically so we could have also ended up selling our Bula for only NZ$6000. Thanks God I have great MiliMundo followers who bought it from me for a fair price.

Thus, we ended up with only 300 euro in “minus” from the sale.

THE GAS in NEW ZEALAND

The price of the gas in New Zealand varies, depending if you are in a God-forgotten village in the middle of nowhere or in a bigger city. Usually, the bigger city, the cheaper gas and vice versa. The cheapest gas we found in NZ was NZ$1,99 per litre (1,13 euro) and the most expensive was over NZ$3. The average though was around NZ$2,40 per litre. (1,37 euro). The most useful tip when it comes to the gas in New Zealand is to download the app called Gaspy which allows you to find the cheapest gas in any area of NZ. When you compare prices of the gas between NZ and Slovakia for instance, the gas in NZ is cheaper. Probably the only thing though!

Within 5 months in New Zealand, we drove around 12 800km, so we might have spent around NZ$3200 for the gas only. NZ$100 per full tank, thus around 400km.

FOOD in NEW ZEALAND

Regarding the food, eating out in restaurants is generally more expensive than in any other countries around. Although people in NZ don´t leave tips to waiters compared especially to Canada or the USA. The average meal would cost between NZ$20 to NZ$40, depending if it´s a lunch or dinner meal and what type of restaurant. Groceries are also considered to be more expensive. There are couple of grocery chains around New Zealand. We managed to get a discount card for the chain called New World, therefore, we usually did our shopping in New World branches. However, many travellers use Pak´n&Save chain and the most expensive one is apparently Countdown. The most expensive items were surprisingly vegetable, 1 cucumber for around NZ$5, small 250g of cherry tomatoes for NZ$6, milk for NZ$2,20.



THE CAMPSITES in NEW ZEALAND

The prices of campsites also varied. We usually stayed overnight at freedom camping spots, but from time to time we stayed at the paid ones. The cheapest we stayed was for NZ$10, the most expensive was for NZ$18 per person per night. However, you will find campsites for way much more than that. The more luxurious campsite, the more expensive.  The most useful applications for finding a campsite in New Zealand are Campermate and WikiCamps.

OTHER EXPENSES in NEW ZEALAND

To the other expenses may belong the ferry from North to South Island or vice versa (average of NZ$300 per a campervan per one way journey), the entrances to some galleries, museums, etc … And some extra touristy activities such as water taxi to Abel Tasman, Milford or Doubtful Sound boat trips, whale watching, Great Walks huts (expensive ones), etc …

Doubtful Sound boat trip for 220 dollars

OUR BUDGET for 5 MONTHS in NEW ZEALAND

We actually didn´t set any type of budget for New Zealand. Klara and I came with enough money saved for this journey, however, we still tried to keep an eye on how much we were spending. Yet, we still enjoyed occasional lunches and dinners in some restaurants, eating sushi pretty often, paying for some cultural stuff such as traditional Maori dinner NZ$130 or a guided boat tour to the Doubtful Sound for NZ$220. We lived and travelled well, we didn´t starve and yet we didn´t spend a lot of money (surprisingly).

Our total expenses for 5 months in New Zealand were around NZ$11 700 (6, 662 euro) for both of us.

Therefore, if you divide that sum into two that makes it NZ$5850 per person and on average we could say that 1 person spent around NZ$1170 per month = 666 euro. That is almost nothing!! I usually spend at least double while living back home in Slovakia!

OUR INCOME in NEW ZEALAND

I have written one specific article about our work experiences from New Zealand so feel free to read that. However, to sum it up, within 5 months in New Zealand we tried 6 different jobs and worked in total 24 days and made NZ$4319 = around 2460 euro.

Summarizing, within 5 moths I spent in New Zealand around 3330 euro and earned around 2460 euro, thus I used only around 870 euro from my own savings from Slovakia. Not bad at all. Although, I did not count other expenses such as flying out of New Zealand to Fiji, Samoa, Singapore, Bali and the back home to Slovakia and also buying souvenirs for my family and my NZ$300 bungee-jumping. So yeah, eventually, I spent a bit more than just 870 euro.

But still, spending only 1000 euro for 5 months of adventurous travelling?!

SUMMARY of our BUDGET in NEW ZEALAND

To sum it up, surprisingly and unexpectedly we didn´t spend a lot of money while travelling across New Zealand. The country which is considered to be one of the most expensive ones alongside the USA, Canada and Australia. An average 666 euro per month per person is a very low cost especially taking into consideration all the beauty a person can experience in NZ.
However, I also must point out that a campervan life is a very simple lifestyle, not for everyone. Sharing a bed, kitchen and a very limited space with another person almost 24/7 can be exhausting. Lack of privacy, no private toilets or showers can also be a bummer!
However, if you decide to experience such a lifestyle for a short time in New Zealand, you can do it on a very low budget, not spending all your savings from back home. Especially, if you also work from time to time as we did.

DO you want to read more about NEW ZEALAND? Click HERE.

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