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:
|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?!