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Written by Savi, 61 Comments

This is Part 4 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate road trip in New Zealand. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing, driving, budgeting – of planning an unforgettable road trip in New Zealand

Read Part 1 – The Ultimate New Zealand road trip itinerary (opens in new tab)

Read Part 2 – Where to stay on your road trip in New Zealand (opens in new tab)

Read Part 3 – Travel Fashion – What to pack for a Road Trip in New Zealand (opens in new tab)


If you’ve reached this blog post, you’ve probably read our Itinerary for a summer road trip in New Zealand. When it comes to budgeting and costs, New Zealand can be quite expensive. It’s one of the more expensive countries we’ve visited on our travels (others include Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden).


Of course this also depends on the currency of your home country. If you’re coming from Scandinavia you won’t find it expensive. If you’re coming from Asia, you will find it expensive. Coming from UK, we found groceries and meals to be at par with most Western European countries. Here’s a detailed breakdown of costs, which will help you if you’re planning a summer road trip in New Zealand:



The million dollar question! New Zealand’s scenic panoramas are stunning in every season but weather can be a bit unpredictable during winter months (May-August). However it is the ideal time to go for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Insofar as road trips are concerned, New Zealand’s winter is charming but its summer (December-March) is absolutely spectacular – expect sunny days, fields full of flowers, glistening lakes, and extraordinary hikes. It’s also possible to go on glacier hikes during summer.


New Zealand road trip budget
Summer flowers in New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary
Views on a summer road trip in New Zealand



New Zealand Dollar (NZD). £1 = 2.05 NZD (April 2016). We withdrew money from ATMs on landing in New Zealand.



This is the itinerary we followed:

  • Fly into Auckland
  • Explore Auckland
  • Drive to Rotorua via Coromandel Peninsula
  • Explore Rotorua’s geothermal areas
  • Explore Rotorua’s Lakes
  • The Thermal Explorer Highway and Taupo
  • Explore Taupo
  • Drive to Interislander Ferry Terminal via Wellington and cross over to Picton
  • Whale watching and hiking in Kaikoura
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park
  • Drive to Wanaka via Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, and Franz Jozef Glacier
  • Explore Wanaka
  • Drive to Queenstown
  • Explore Queenstown and Glenorchy
  • Milford Sound
  • Optional: Doubtful Sound
  • Arrowtown and Otago’s wineries
  • Optional: Dunedin
  • Drive to Christchurch via Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo
  • Fly out of Christchurch

Total: 20 days

Recommended Reading :-  The Ultimate Road Trip in New Zealand : An Itinerary (opens in a new tab)



As a rule of thumb, pack good-quality outerwear, hiking/running shoes, hiking clothes, breezy dresses for long days on the road, and swimwear.


Recommended Reading :- Travel Fashion – What to pack for a Road Trip in New Zealand (opens in a new tab)


New Zealand budget
Make sure you pack active-wear for your hikes in New Zealand



Some average costs first:

  • A cup of coffee on an average: NZD 4-6 (£2-3)
  • A 500 ml bottle of coke : NZD 3-4 (£1-2)
  • A regular can of deodorant (eg. Nivea): NZD 7-10 (£4-5). Yep, it’s best to stock up on toiletries before you come to New Zealand because you might end up paying three times the price for the exact same thing.
  • 1 litre of fuel: NZD 1.6 – 2 depending on the place (£0.70-0.90)
  • A meal: A casual café style meal will set you back by NZD 15-20/person (£7-10) while a mid-range meal at a restaurant can cost anywhere between NZD 40-50/person (£20-25)



Unfortunately wifi is paid in a lot of areas in New Zealand. Frequently ‘free’ wifi comes with a 30 minute or 100 MB limit (seriously what IS 100 MB? New Zealand up your wifi game will ya?!)


If you’re on holiday to disconnect from the world, then this is perfect for you. However if you like being in touch with friends and family back home, try to opt for hotels that offer free wifi. A number of areas, including Taupo, Arrowtown, and Tekapo, also offer free wifi to visitors. As for us, we’re data monsters. Wifi is a bit like oxygen when one is blogging on the go. So we ended up spending around NZD 50 (£24) on wifi when there was just no option and it hurt real bad 🙁 😉



Accommodation is of extremely high quality in New Zealand: motor lodges, motels, and B&Bs are usually a safe bet for road trips. Expect to find amenities befitting a 3* hotel. The amount you’ll spend on accommodation will vary drastically according to the season. Hotel prices skyrocket during New Zealand’s splendid summer (December-March). It is also much harder to find accommodation during those months. If you intend to drive through New Zealand during summer, make sure you book ahead. Expect to pay anywhere between NZD 80 and NZD 175 (£40-90) for a double room at a mid-range motel, hotel, or B&B. It’s easier to find great deals on accommodation during winter months.



The amount of money you spend on groceries depends on where you shop – Countdown and Pack n Save supermarkets offer large stores in most big cities. Stock up on groceries in larger cities: supermarkets are considerably cheaper in larger cities such as Auckland, Rotorua, and Christchurch as opposed to the countryside. They’re also much larger and offer more variety. We spent approximately around NZD 60 (£30) on groceries and coffee per day. These groceries include the cost of snacks, coffee, and a lot of meals because we picked up stuff from the supermarket and picnicked most days. We rarely ate lunch at a restaurant in New Zealand because the countryside offers such great opportunities for picnics.


We usually picked loads of fruits, salad leaves, some wine, cheeses, miscellaneous antipasto and freshly-baked breads for our picnics. New Zealand also has lots of pick-your-own farms and market stalls along the way – perfect for picking fresh fruits and vegetables bursting with flavour at competitive prices 🙂



Of course the amount you spend on activities depends solely on the itinerary you plan for yourself and your personal preferences. If you want to try your hand at sky diving or bungee jumping, then New Zealand is the perfect place for it. If you’re a big Lord of the Rings fan, then visit the Hobbiton.


As for us we went on a cruise of Milford Sound during our time in Queenstown. The cruise lasts 2 hours and costs NZD 80 (£40) per person. We also went to a number of thermal parks and hot springs in the Rotorua-Taupo region, which have nominal entry fees. We spent a cumulative sum of NZD 100 (£50) per person on this. Unfortunately we couldn’t go for a helihike at the Franz Josef Glacier due to unsuitable weather conditions but you should look it up, especially if you’ve never hiked on a glacier before. A helihike will set you back by NZD 400 (£200) per person but if you’re interested in just a scenic flight over the glaciers, you can enjoy those for as low as NZD 100 (£50) per person.



Fuel costs in New Zealand ranges from NZD 1.69-2 (£0.70-0.90) per litre depending on location. We drove 4000 kms (1000 kms on North Island, 3000 kms on South Island and spent fuel worth NZD 550 (£270) in 20 days.


Car Rental

We rented a car with Hertz. It costs approximately NZD 100 (£48) per day. Car rental costs increase during summer months. You can find better deals on car rentals during winter.


You don’t need a 4X4 for New Zealand because the roads are in great condition but you could rent a motorhome, which is a very popular option in New Zealand. Of course, the cost goes up considerably if you decide to rent a camper van or motorhome but you can save on accommodation and camp right in the middle of stunning surroundings.


Another thing to keep in mind when you are picking-up your car in Auckland and dropping it off in Christchurch is that you’ll have to change cars if you rent with major international rental car providers. You’ll have to drop your car off at Wellington ferry terminal in the North Island, cross over to the South Island in a ferry, and pick another car at Picton ferry terminal. That said, the process is seamless and you still make only one booking when reserving your car online.


Ferry crossing

Chances are that you will cross over from North to South island (or vice versa) at some point during your road trip in New Zealand. We had to drop our car off at Hertz Wellington ferry terminal office and cross over to the South Island. We used Interislander Ferry and a one-way ticket from Wellington to Picton costs NZD 65 (£32) per person.


New Zealand road trip summer scenery
A road trip in New Zealand will leave you gobsmacked 🙂


New Zealand road trip budget
Stunning sunset in Auckland, New Zealand


Read about all our experiences in New Zealand here.


*All prices true of March-April 2016.

61 thoughts on “How Much Will That Road Trip in New Zealand Cost

  1. Hey guys,
    Isn’t it beautiful after all, the Land of the Long White Cloud?

    Cool you spent some time there and share useful tips with your readers.

    Speaking about useful, here’s a tip on the internet situation. In January 2016 when we were there, they recommended us local sim cards packed with data. So we bought one and paid 50 NZD for 2GB of fast internet and plenty of free minutes. I guess that might be a good to know piece for your next endeavour:)
    You rock guys!

    1. Thanks for the tip Bistra – it will definitely be helpful for our readers. As bloggers we run out of 2 GB cards in a day or two, so that would mean a lot of money 😉

  2. Awesome post guys 🙂
    How do you manage car rental insurance? Insurance from rental companies is often very expensive :\

    1. Hey Abhishek – we rent cars frequently so we purchase annual third-party insurance. We would highly recommend car rental insurance anytime you rent a car or drive in a foreign country.

      1. Hi Savi, Can you please share the annual third party insurance info. We are planning a road trip to NZ and your feedback about car rental insurance will be appreciated. What company did you use for insurance. Thanks much!

        1. Hey we usually take it from but there are several websites offering similar services. You can pick one that suits you best 🙂

          1. Thank you guys. We will be spending 2 months in New Zealand. Any tips/must do places..everything you have listed on your post is a part of our itinerary. If you have anything else, that you think we must do, please share. Thanks a lot!

          2. Hey there – we shared all our tips in our itinerary, so don’t really have anything else to add 🙂 Hope you guys have a wonderful time in New Zealand

  3. hey guyz..this is the best travel itinery you peopole have written so far.Thank u for giving such details of literally every possible question which could pop up in a readers mind

  4. Good to see such a detailed blog. It is extremely useful for someone who is planning to make this trip one day.
    Thanks a ton….What was the total cost of this NZ trip for you.

  5. Hi

    Thanks for all the info. beautiful pics. Am looking forward for 14 days trip of New Zealand. I wish not to rush so as to do the full trip of New Zealand. what are the places I can skip ??? (though I wish not to)

    1. Hey Solomon
      Thanks a ton. You could skip spending much time in the North Island and head straight to the South Island 🙂

  6. Hi Lovely Couple
    Extremely happy for U. Afre Website visit, m interested to travel more as it’s my hobby to travel. How much New Zealand trip costs in Indian currency ? I would like to visit Next Year.
    All the best for future. Be happy & Enjoy every bit of Your Life.

    1. Hey Shah Alam – How much you spend depends on the kind of accommodation you choose, the number of days you spend in New Zealand, and the activities you choose to partake in during that time. A detailed breakdown is given above- you can convert the final amout using this currency convertor Hope this helps 🙂

    1. Hey Ruby – How much you spend depends on the kind of accommodation you choose, the number of days you spend in New Zealand, and the activities you choose to partake in during that time. A detailed breakdown is given above- you can calculate the expenditure based on your itinerary 🙂

  7. what was your total cost that you incurred in that trip of 20 days.. i will get an idea of the rough estimate.

    and thanks for a great piece of article..a well composed one . seems like i have traveled through your lenses.. 🙂

    1. Hi Anindya,

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the article. Take the expenditure to be roughly around £150 per day (for 2 people) – of course this will vary depending on the accommodation you choose and the excursions/activities you opt for 🙂


      1. Thanks. What an awesome blog. I am just wondering for someone travelling from USA, the cost will be around 150 UK Pounds i.e. 200 USD? That includes airfare as well? Di you fly from India and hence air fare was cheaper? Also for 20 days it comes out to be USD 4000. I must be in dreams to think New Zealand would be that cheap to explore in 20 days. For reference, I did 2 weeks in Alaska, a road trip and total cost was $18000. Can you please advise on NZ? thanks

        1. We flew from Australia. Also the cost depends heavily on the kind of hotels you choose and whether you eat out or buy food from a supermarket. Hope that helps

  8. Loved the 4 part series and so looking forward to use this itinerary when I plan my trip for NZ. Like you mentioned in the comments above for someone who is trying to take a 14-15 day trip, places in the north can be skipped.
    1. Could you let me know which are the must see places in the North so that can help us cross of those cities.
    2. I read few blogs with mixed reviews about visiting NZ in September and October during Spring time. Would appreciate if you could provide some inputs as to how the weather would hold during late September and early October for us to take a road trip and ensure we do not miss out on any excursions.

    Thank you guys for the amazingly detailed itinerary and costing. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Hey Suheil,

      1) We have mentioned all the places that we saw in the North Island so you can decide which ones you prefer to visit 🙂 Rotorua, Coromandel, and Muriwai were some of our favourites in the North Island 🙂

      2) We wish we could give you a definite answer this for you but we can’t :(. The weather in New Zealand is VERY unpredictable. Even in the “best” months of January and February, we had horrible weather on certain days. That said, we took it in our stride and enjoyed the scenery anyway 🙂 The advantage of going in late September would be that availability of accommodation will be good and prices will be lower. Spring is a great time to visit NZ if you are willing to brave the unpredictability of weather (which you will face in summer months as well). We’d say just go when your schedule permits and hope that the weather does not play spoilt sport 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  9. You guyz had done a dream trip of mine, it is so useful for me.. All the best for the next outing…

  10. Great Info guys.I knw this is easy forme to ask for but u should put up more articles like this on other countries as well!.So finally we can pick something that fits into our budget!;)
    im literally hooked to ur blog!

    1. Hanif Laljee we are glad you finally got the information you were looking for.We will surely keep your feedback in mind and try and put up more articles like this for different countries.

  11. We are planning 25 day trio to nz-aus in oct-nov…nz would b around 2 weeks and after doing the north island in 6 days we plan to take a flight from taupo to christchurch
    I think we-l b following the reverse order tekapo queenstown milford and then queenstown to aus..

    Don’t know how to fit wanaka in btw … since we r flying to south island w’d b missing arthur park Mt cook …. is it worth missing or should we rearrange our itenary ??

    1. Hey Priya,

      No matter what your itinerary for New Zealand, you’re bound to have a great time. Your itinerary sounds just fine 🙂

  12. Amazing pics…. And most useful information at one place..
    Thanks for making it so easy for us to plan the trip…

    Where did u book ur car from…I checked rental with insurance and a car seat is very very expensive…

    Can u suggest any cheaper can rental… Also u talked about third party insurance…is there any available for 15days

    To make the trip cheaper we are planning to book through airbnb…
    Any tips about location…is it ok to book a lil farther from City center?

  13. You guys are so awesome. Came across your super awesome blog when I was looking for inspiration to document my travel. Keep up the great work !
    How would you advice for travelling to New Zealand in April ? * We do crave for blue skies and landscapes!

    1. Hey there – NZ is quite nice in April. The weather begins to cool down a bit but you should get blue skies for sure 🙂

  14. If I have to do this in 12 days what all do you reckon I can skip? I’d love to know your ideal itinerary for 12 days!

  15. Hi Savi and Vid!

    Love reading all your blog!

    I am planning to visit New Zealand for my first anniversary in June! Wanted to know if that’s an advisable option? Or should I look for any other place, keeping in mind the weather in June!!! Please advise!

    1. Hey Sugandha,

      Not sure what you finally decided in the end but in any case I hope you had an amazing first anniversary trip wherever it was 😀

  16. Hi,
    I love your blogs !!! Love you guys :*

    Would you advise if its recommended to hire the car right from the airport ?? Are there any tricks to get cheaper deals on the car rentals ??

    1. Hey Akanksha – yes would suggest booking in advance and renting a car from the airport. You can check a price-comparison website for best deals

  17. Hi
    What a great blog with lots of information
    We travel a lot and we as wandering regards a NZ road trip
    ,how does the cost of renting a car and staying in hotels or B&B compare with renting a campervan and driving and longing in that


    1. Sometimes it is cheaper to rent a campervan but in peak time it might be better overall to rent a car and stay in hotels / B&B as you won’t be saving much by renting campervan and after a few days it can end up being a bit tedious 🙂

  18. Great post, guys.

    Can I update some of your costs as of June 2019.

    Petrol is now about $NZ2.30 per litre. Cheapest brand is Waitomo.

    For rental cars I use Ace Rentals. Slightly older cars but absolutely safe and reliable and clean. Never had a problem. (They are a Hertz discount brand).

    Don’t be tempted to buy or rental a “sleepervan”. They are a van with a bed in the back and all the necessary camping equipment. Incidentally I invented that term when I ran a rental car company and was the first to put this sort of vehicle on the road. These days you can not just park anywhere you like and sleep over unless your vehicle is fully self-contained – i.e. you have an on-board toilet and can store waste water for at least three days.

    For meals there are a lot of ethnic restaurants that are cheap and cheerful. Chinese takeaway dinners are around $NZ10 and I usually get two meals out of it. Indian restaurants about the same. Pub meals range around $20 to $30. Bit more if you are into steaks. You would only pay $50 a main at the poshest of places.

    Use a site like Trivago to get an idea of accommodation prices. They can be high in popular tourist towns in summer.

    Best time to visit is late March/April. From Christmas to early Feb is peak holiday time for New Zealanders. Schools are closed and many businesses close down for four weeks. Which means popular holiday spots are crowded. You will still get good weather in March/April – though with the provisos listed above about changeability.

    A warning. That changeability can be fatal. Do not go wandering off into the NZ bush or trekking a track without being fully prepared.

  19. Hi,

    Hertz car rental has an option to add Never Lost @GPS for 88 NZD/week.
    Is GPS required to drive through south island in New Zealand?
    Are there any cheaper options to navigate through New Zealand?


    1. Hi Adarsh,

      You might be better off taking a local sim card and using Google Maps. Or you can use offline services like – no need to go for that expensive GPS

  20. Hi ,

    You have written you dropped your car before taking ferry from north island to south island. Then you picked up another car from ferry station itself. Few questions

    1. Did they charge you extra for this?
    2. Did you mention this at time of booking?

    1. Hi Ishan,

      a) No they didn’t (as it was booked through the same company i.e. Hertz in our case)
      b) Yes, when making a booking you mention this and they take care of it (in fact most car rental agencies work in this way when pick-up is in one island and drop-off is in the other)

  21. What will be the total cost for your 21 days road trip from Auckland to Christchurch including everything activities also bungee, heli hike, sky dive… Etc

    1. Hi Kshitij,

      We have listed average costs for pretty much everything in this article. Please have a look and add the costs for your trip.

  22. Hi Savi,
    Great blog with lost of information. Do you book your hotel/accomodation in advance or just few days before you arrive at the destination?

  23. Hi!
    NZ is back open for travel and I intend to travel for 11 days as that’s the only time I can get.
    I reside in US but will be traveling to and from India. Wondering how the visa process was for you guys? How long did it take and was it all online? Any hiccups to look out for?

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