Money saving travel hacks for a New Zealand road trip

25 September 2017 | snap news by Patrick

They say travel is the only thing you can buy that can make you richer. Well, we think that’s great – but what if you can get a discount?!

We have put our heads together at Snap HQ to come up with the best New Zealand specific travel hacks for hustling Aotearoa on a budget …

Sign up to deal sites

Every country has a plethora of sites offering special deals, discounts and offers to consumers savvy enough to know where to go.

In New Zealand, signing up to these websites will not only save you money, but possibly even open you up to activities and experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Grabone and TreatMe are great for tourists looking for discounts on activities, accommodation, and dining out. You’ll see deals for bungy jumps, skydiving, white water rafting, jet boating, ski fields – and all the other quintessential New Zealand activities you don’t want to miss.

Everyone should know about global flight aggregating sites like Skyscanner, but for New Zealand-specific deals you can sign up to the national carrier (Air New Zealand’s) Grabaseat website. Jetstar is also a budget carrier, and its expansion into regional airports has resulted in some great prices for consumers.

Doing so well before your arrival could help you score cheap regional and some international flights.

Again, sites like Booking.com and Airbnb are common knowledge, but also check Wotif and Expedia to bag last-minute rooms (or flights) that would otherwise go unused.

Stay in a charming tree house in Upper Hutt for only $45 a night!
Stay in a charming tree house in Upper Hutt for only $45 a night!

We’ll let you in on our secret…

A hack especially for Air New Zealand is purchasing a Flexi Fare flight. These fares are more expensive than a standard fare, but allow the ticket holder to change to any flight on the day of travel for free.

For example, you can purchase a flexi fare for the cheapest flight of the day, but then change it on the day you wish to travel to a flight at your preferred time. This can save you hundreds as you move from a red eye to a prime time flight.

Pack light

When you do fly, don’t get stung by excess baggage fees as you move from the generous international luggage allowances to measly domestic ones.

Especially now you’re going to have so much more cash weighing down your wallet after reading this…

How to pack light

Speaking of cash

Don’t exchange currencies at the airport, a quick google should reveal the cheapest place for money exchange at your chosen destination. For example in central Auckland, you’ll find a few on Queen St in the city centre.

Got some cash to exchange? Swap it for some NZ currency
Got some cash to exchange? Swap it for some NZ currency anywhere except at the airport (it’s cheaper that way …)

On the road

Sure you might score a cheap flight or bus ticket on one of those handy sites listed above, but the best way to see New Zealand has got to be by road.

Cars are expensive to buy in New Zealand, even second hand ones (which you’ll end up spending heaps on fuel and maybe even get stung with repairs), so the most cost effective way to travel is by, you guessed, rental car.

Our Tesla! Image source: Icehouse
Our Tesla! Image source: Icehouse

Snap’s cars are all late model, making them fuel – and therefore cost – effective. You can even hire the mother-of-all-money-savers, a Tesla, at our Auckland depots.

If you are planning to travel by road (did we say that was recommended?) you should sign up to AA. You can sign up for free to get fuel discounts, or pay a small fee to be eligible for roadside assistance and other benefits.

Eating and drinking

New Zealand is a treasure trove of delicious locally produced food and beverages. Unfortunately they can also be a little bit on the steep side of the price range. The way to get the best of both worlds (enjoying the yums for cheap)? Be picky.

Look at local food review sites for the best local intel on dining out, get familiar with the bars that have happy hours and drink specials.

Then, when you’re not eating out – buy your groceries from low cost supermarkets. Don’t be fooled by convenience stores or corner dairies, these places are often much more expensive.

You can't beat pizza as a cheap dinner option ...
You can’t beat pizza as a cheap dinner option …

Budget supermarket chain Pak’n’Save has the lowest prices, and fruit and vegetables can be picked up for cheap at farmer’s markets, roadside stalls and speciality grocers, especially those in rural areas.

All the gear, none of the mark up

It’s no secret a tour of New Zealand is going to involve gear and equipment you might not need again. Instead of investing in expensive camping and outdoor gear, look at hiring it or purchasing second hand.

Hire stores in towns and cities are generally much cheaper than buying at the ski field or activity site. New Zealand’s Ebay is called TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace is becoming more popular for buying and selling used items.

 

You’ve got the gear, now what?

Why don’t you tie some cheap accommodation into your activities? Turn a day hike into a couple by staying in Department of Conservation huts for just a few dollars a night. Not only will you save cash, but you’ll get to experience remote parts of the country. The most beautiful places are always the hardest to get to.

Just make sure you check the conditions before you go.

DOC Chancellor Hut, Fox Glacier. Image source: Jet Set Lust.
DOC Chancellor Hut, Fox Glacier. Image source: Jet Set Lust.

If that’s not your idea of a good time, you can also check where you’re allowed to freedom camp. That’s a fancy way to say, “sleep in your car”. When you’re doing this, it is important you clean up all of your mess – or else you can look forward to a large fine (which is not conducive to cutting costs).

Phoning home (and snaring free WiFi)

Telecommunications in New Zealand are considerably steeper than other places, so you should compare offers of Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees.

Prepay is the way to go for tourists, but check out the different deals – especially those with generous data allowances.

Depending on your telco in your native country, it might even be cheaper to purchase a global roaming package on their rates.

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Free Wi-Fi is common in the main centres, but not always easy to find, so you may want to double check with your accommodation provider if they have free internet before you book. If you get really stuck, a McDonald’s restaurant will even serve fries with that.

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Happy (low-cost) travelling everyone! For low cost travel, hit us up for a super affordable Snap Rental car

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