Budgeting New Zealand and Australia

$5 Australian note

Australia and New Zealand are not what I would call travellers’ places. They are, quite simply, expensive.

If you come directly from Europe or the US then maybe it won’t feel quite so harsh. I arrived from South America where US$5 got you a full meal and public transport was cheap. I really felt the difference and struggled to understand how many of the backpackers I met in Auckland and Sydney were out drinking and partying every night, eating expensive takeaways, buying pricey clothing. What was going on?

When I work out what I spent in New Zealand each day, it comes in at NZ$43.69 (£21.84).

During my month and a bit stint in New Zealand, I spent one week in a hostel, used a lot of buses, and stayed with friends and acquaintances along the way. I also CouchSurfed and slept in Auckland Airport. If I had needed to pay for accommodation the whole way, my budget could have increased by an additional NZ$30 (£15.71) per day. I did often pay for beers and food when staying with others, which cost more than if I was just fending for myself, so in some respects things levelled out a bit.

Whilst in New Zealand I also had to replace my camera, annoying, but I wouldn’t want to travel without a camera.

In Australia my daily expenditure was AU$34.21 (£23.41). And that was me being pretty damn careful. I’d found New Zealand expensive. Australia shifted things up a gear. Oh dear.

Initially I was pretty stressed about how costly everything was. ‘Don’t compare back to the UK’, said a Londoner I met at a party. It made sense. Once I started earning a bit in the local currency, it was all relative. Salaries are good, costs are high. Minimum wage is $15.51 per hour; many jobs pay more. A basic chocolate bar, like a Mars bar, costs $1.80 (£1.22), a loaf of bread anything upwards of $3.00 (£2.04). I personally also had to factor in internet costs, replacing a bike lock and helmet, and contributing towards surfboard repair.

My Australia daily average includes one night in a hostel in Sydney and return flights from Sydney up to Ballina-Byron as well as other public transport around and about Sydney.

To save money I slept a night in Sydney Airport and I was really fortunate to be able to spend over a month staying with good friends. I didn’t pay rent but bought in groceries and helped around the place to pay my way. If I had wanted to rent a place for the duration of my stay, rooms in share houses were advertised at around $200 (£136) per week, houses double that.

I hitched or cycled into work rather than take the bus. I didn’t go out and party excessively, but there were also moments when I gave in and paid above my usual cut-off for food or a drink when I just didn’t fancy drinking yet more water or making a sandwich. In short, I could have been more frugal, but I wanted to do things with people and that often upped the costs.

Some ideas of costs:

New Zealand Australia
Hostel bed $27 (£14.03) $30 (£20.41)
Beer (glass/schooner) $6 (£3.11) $6 (£4.08)
Bottle of wine $10 (£5.20) $10 (£6.80)
Black coffee $4 (£2.08) $4 (£2.72)
Pizza/curry/takeaway $15 (£7.79) $15 (£10.20)
Cheap meal out $15-$20 (£8-£10) $20-$30 (£13-£20)
Sandwich $5 (£2.60) $6.50 (£4.42)
Bus travel (1 hour) $10 (£5.20) $12 (£8.16)
Water Free in both New   Zealand and Australia! – water is good to drink out of the taps. All bars in Australia also need to provide   free water, whilst NZ tend to do so, although not required by law.

As a local friend pointed out to me, Sydney and Byron Bay in Australia are pricey places. This experience of Australia is therefore somewhat distorted, so I guess I’ll have to come back and check out the rest at some point soon. Anyone know where the cheapest place in Oz is? And do I really want to go there?!

It may be worth looking at Nomadic Matt’s blog where he has done more comprehensive write-ups on budgeting for New Zealand and Australia.


Filed under australia, costs/money, new zealand

9 responses to “Budgeting New Zealand and Australia

  1. Thanks for sharing! NZ is one of the countries I’ve been wanting to go but looks like i need to save that little bit more, just so I don’t have to worry too much about cutting costs while I’m there!

    • Yep, worth having a bit behind you so that you can really enjoy the countries. I’ll be going back to both, for sure. Both places have so much to explore and see. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Not Perth, I’ll tell you that. I’ve just moved there (and yes, it’s lovely), and your “$6 beer” makes me crazy mad with jealousy… Try $9 if you’re lucky, at a really crap pub. The city’s def crawling with backpackers though. The ones I’ve met are either, shall we say, funded by outside sources, or selling themselves to every miserable job they can find. Well, that or leaving.

    But good luck, enjoy your travels 🙂

  3. SighYuki

    Unfortunately the cheaper places in Australia don’t really have a lot going for them. I used to live in a rural-urban area and while I liked it, getting anywhere was a bit of a hassle and I half-dreaded people visiting because I wouldn’t know what to do. I do recommend Melbourne though. I’ve lived here for about 5 months and the city’s really good. There’s a free tram that does loops around the city, so you can get to most places within the city for free if you’re willing to walk to make up the distance. 🙂

    • At this point of writing, I’m back in Oz and had to make a decision between Melbourne (where I knew no one but the job opportunities are better) or NSW north coast (where the lifestyle is beachy and I have a fair few friends already). Melbourne does seem to have so much going for it – every Aussie I know has good things to say about the place. Maybe when the summer arrives I’ll make the move down south 🙂 Cheers for commenting.

      • SighYuki

        Yeah? Heaps good 😀 Yeah Melbourne is a pretty cool place. Having said that I haven’t been up far north NSW; I heard it’s pretty good there too 🙂 The only thing bad I’ve got to say about it is that the jobs aren’t as abundant as they appear to be. Definitely check it out though! You’re welcome, and thanks for comment appreciation 😀

      • A friend actually mentioned about jobs being harder to come by than we expected and ended up moving on… Maybe I’ll visit first and see how it fits.

      • SighYuki

        Sounds like a plan to me 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

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