I’m in Wellington now, on the ferry, almost crossing over to the South island of New Zealand.
It’s early in the morning.
While drinking my coffee, I just realise, that after I thought I learned so much during my burn out, I’m still a perfectionist. Never completely satisfied with anything I do.
Damn.. Just when you think you’re doing so well.
I am going to kill this habit, right here right now, by writing a post from scratch. Like writing a journal.
Not thinking about a storyline, techniques, keywords. Not thinking about a beginning and an ending. Not thinking about how people might read this. What you might think.
No deleting, no re-arranging, no editing.
No dictionary (help).
I’m just going to write, like writing a journal (a censored journal).
Pure, raw, impulsive, imperfect.
So… what’s up? How are you doing?
I’m on the ferry to the South Island of New Zealand
After spending 2,5 months on the North Island of New Zealand, mainly working, I’m heading South again.
I thought my heart belonged to the South, but the North Island has earned a lot of credits the past few months. I’m sad to leave, but mostly, I feel grateful. Grateful for all the beauty, the experiences I had, the people I met. It was amazing and unforgettable. Life-changing even. Beautiful.
Let’s summarise the North Island. Roadtripping with Anna in the van, doing The Tongariro Crossing (twice), soaking up some Maori Culture, mountainbiking, spending some time in Piha, meeting people, doing soul searching, working at the Tauhara Centre, meeting amazing people, falling in love, learning, growing, roadtripping on my own. Mountains, hills, lakes, waterfalls, hikes, yoga, runs, swims
The past 1,5 week I spend at a beekeeper and on a remote beach in Hawkes Bay.
Being on the road again, the sun reflecting on my windshield, open window, hair in the breeze, I felt extremely free.
That is what the vanlife is all about for me. Freedom.
You can go wherever you want. When you like it somewhere, you decide to stay. When you’re done with a place, or when you have no more reason to stay, you leave. You sleep on beaches, in the forest or on a carpark. Wherever you feel like. You only spend money on gas and food. No rent. Not having to work for your accommodation, saving your money to do valuable stuff. Wow. That feels good.
So, after two months of working, I was on the road again. I felt like absorbing sun, so I stayed a bit longer in Hawkes Bay than I originally planned. It was almost 20 degrees, which was a surprise to me, because it is winter in New Zealand.
From now on, I decided, I will follow the sun 🙂
But first, let’s go back to the start of my roadtrip. I felt sad when I left Tauhara Centre, and I cried a lot while driving to Napier. Weirdly enough, this is what happens to me in New Zealand a lot. I cry. All the time. Haha.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing. I opened up.
Every tear is something you’re letting go off. I love to cry. Let it out. Feel a lot of self pity and then be free. Crying is such a relief.
I can also cry from gratitude, beauty.
Raw emotions. Don’t think about it, just feel. Hate it but love it more.
The vanlife: the importance of speakers and travelbuddies
I have a good speaker in my van and damn, I used it well, playing my ‘Guilty Pleasure’ playlist on Spotify. Of course, it started to rain. It was like the perfect movie scene. Me, self-pity music, rain and teardrops.
And then something shifted. I arrived in sunny Napier…
Though I thought I needed some alone-time, when Nadja & Anthony – who I met at the Tauhara Centre – texted me, I felt so happy. An hour before, at Countdown, I’d found a bottle of wine from a brand which I know from back home. I have a special connection to this wine, because I shared it with someone special a long time ago. I was reliving happy memories.
The first night in Napier was spontaneously amazing.
I parked my van at the beach in Napier, had a glass of Diablo wine and damn I felt happy.
An hour later, Anthony and Nadja arrived with their van. It was windy and it looked like it was going to rain, so we made a little hut.
They brought their awesomeness, good music and honey vodka, made by the beekeeper at who they were Wwoofing at.
We had an amazing night. Good conversations, music, drinks, good food.
Banana Pancakes for breakfast, while listening to Jack Johnson. It was the perfect start of my final road trip in New Zealand.
Beagles Bees in Napier
When you are open and spontaneous, you end up having the most amazing experiences.
Anthony & Nadja invited me to join them at Beagles Bees, a beekeeper in Napier who produces 100% natural, unheated honey. I always wanted to learn about beekeeping and they told me what an awesome time they are having there, so this was a no-brainer. I went beekeeping. See Instagram to read about my awesome time with the bees, and if you would like to learn something about honey.
We tasted at least 10 different types of honey, had the most interesting conversations, played table tennis and darts (I beated them all :P), drank honey vodka, smoked weed out of an apple, and we had heaps of free time to do our own stuff. It was perfect. One day, Beagle took me to two of the places where his hives are and I helped around. Priceless experience.
Ok, something happened. I was supposed to write this story and upload it directly on the ferry from Wellington to Picton. I guess I worked on my laptop too much, doing some work for the website of the Tauhara Centre (which will be released soon :)) as well, and I got a bit seasick.
So my perfect plan is again, imperfect. I didn’t publish my story.
But it doesn’t matter. I’m in Napier now, met up with Giulia, who I Wwooft with at the Tauhara Centre. I kept the promise to myself to follow the sun. We are sitting outside now, it feels like summer.
In two days, we will do the Abel Tasman Coastal track. Four days of hiking on beaches, in the forst, sleeping in huts, sitting next to the fire.
We are super excited!
I’m going to end this perfectly imperfect post now, because I want to chill in the hammock. Enjoy the sun. I might write about my time on the remote beaches in Hawkes Bay later. I might not. We’ll see where life will take me next.
I’ve always been struggling with the question ‘what do I want to do with my life’. Studying Social Work, Cultural Anthropology, Communication, Marketing, having different kinds of jobs, I was always in search of something. Now, after ten months of traveling (and 30 years), I finally have sort of an answer. I wouldn’t say it’s the perfect answer, but at least it’s an answer.
To all the people back home, who have expectations: I’m sorry, but I won’t climb any corporate ladder.
I’ve been in New Zealand for ten months now, leaving very very soon. Without doubt, I can say this has been one of the most valuable times of my life so far. With everything I’ve learned and changed, I know that it’s going to be even better. Did I answer the question “What do I want to do with my life?”, and how? Continue to read… Continue reading →
YES, New Zealand is expensive, and YES, it is absolutely possible to travel in New Zealand on a budget. I am traveling the country for seven months now, with a monthly budget of 750 euro, but most of the times I spend less.
In this article I will give you 10 straight forward tips (and a bonus),
to travel in New Zealand without having to spend over $20.000.
1) ACCOMMODATION: Buy a self contained vehicle (or buy a van and make it self contained, like I did, not so easy but doable and fun)
If you travel in New Zealand without your own accommodation, this is what will kill your budget. Paying 40 dollars a night to sleep in a hostel with 10 other people in the room, is no exception.
That’s why my first, very important suggestion to travel New Zealand on a budget is (when you’re here for a couple of months), buy a self contained car or van.
In a self contained vehicle, you are allowed to freedom camp everywhere, except for places where there’s a ‘no camping’ sign. This will save you heaps of money.
Being self contained means that you have a water waste and water supply system, a sink and a toilet. If you’d like more details, visit the website of the NZMCA.
Some tips for buying your own accommodation:
Buy it in winter, sell it in or just before summer (you pay less in winter and get more money for your car in summer. The price difference can be 2000 NZD)
Buy your car from a local, for example on trademe.co.nz or buy it from another backpacker in one of these Facebook groups:
When you buy from another backpacker, slim your chance of not buying a lemon (a local expression for a car that sucks/is likely to break down quickly). You can do this by (1) buy a car that has less than 240.000 km (2) buy an asian brand (cheaper to repair when something breaks down) (3) make sure the cambelt doesn’t need to be changed soon (expensive to do) or buy a van without a cambelt, like me (4) ask for papers, receipts, WOF check sheet to check the history (5) DO A PRE PURCHASE CHECK. This last tip is the most important.
Do a pre purchase check in Christchurch instead of Auckland. My friend payed 280 dollars to check two vehicles (140 dollars each) in Auckland. In Christchurch, you pay 40 dollars (or at least I know a place where they charge only 40 dollars. I can give you contact details if you like).
Where to stay? Use Apps on your phone.
There are a couple of apps to find (freedom or cheap) campsites.
CAMPERMATE | A lot of backpackers use Campermate, but I don’t like it (annoying user interface and not all campsites are on there)
RANKERS/ CAMPING NZ | I guess this one is developed by the government. It’s not user generated and the amount of campsites you find is less than on my favourite app:
WIKICAMPS, the one I use | WikiCamps will cost you about $2 and it’s totally worth it. It’s super user friendly and user generated, which means that us travellers help each other to find the best spots. You can find campsites as well as showers, hostels, dumppoints, water points, day use areas or other points of interest, by using filters. It also works offline (except for the comments, you can only read them when you are online or have checked that site before.
Downside to freedom camping: not all the locals you meet are happy with the freedom campers in their country. I can see why… A lot of backpackers dump their rubbish and their shit (literally) everywhere. And we don’t support the country’s economy the way that the richer travellers do. I would say, if you’re going to do freedom camping, ‘give back’ to New Zealand by behaving well, be good to the environment, don’t dump your shit, buy from locals along the road and donate to DOC every now and then.
2) FOOD: Buy at Pak’nSave, at local markets or from locals along the road. Eat seasonal products. That will save you heaps of $$$$
BUY FROM LOCALS | My most important tip is, to buy as much as you can from locals. You support the local people instead of the rich supermarket owners, the products are mostly spray-free and you pay less. Just pay attention and watch the signs while you are driving, or visit local markets. Local fruit & veggies stores can be cheap as well.
CHEAP SUPERMARKET | Avoid convenient stores or supermarkets like New World. The prices you pay are absolutely insane. Pak’nSave (huge supermarket) will be your best friend in the category supermarket. They’ve got everything and it’s cheap. There’s a Pak’nSave in every big town, buy a lot, save big!
If there’s no Pak’nSave, no local and no market, Countdown is another option. More expensive than the other two options (in general, some products are an exception), but the prices are better than at other stores.
Locals along the road
Fruit & veggie stores
EAT SEASONAL | A lot of backpackers live on instant noodles. If you’re happy with that, I would say, enjoy!
I can’t do that…
My tip to eat fresh, healthy food and still being able to travel New Zealand on a budget, is buying seasonal products! In November/December, I payed only $0.90 for an avocado and $2 for a bunch of asparagus. At the moment, I pay $4.50 for an avocado. Shocking, right?
The best way to get to know the country, to give back to the locals and to travel New Zealand on a budget, is volunteering. Wwoofing and Workaway are the two most well known communities to find volunteer jobs. You work for 4 hours a day (on average) in exchange of accommodation and food.
In addition to having a great time and getting to know the Kiwi lifestyle, you gain a lot of new skills. I can put gardening, landscaping and making a swing on my CV. Who doesn’t want that? 😛
4) TRAVEL: hitchhiking (when you don’t have a car) & car relocation.
HITCHHIKING | If you want to save money while meeting the most awesome (local) people, go hitchhiking.
I have not much experience in hitchhiking myself (except for taking hitchhikers), but I’ve met a lot of people here who do it and it seems to be a very safe and convenient country for it. Everyone I met so far says it’s super easy, I haven’t heard one bad experience, and as a bonus they meet so many awesome people.
CAR RELOCATION | Another cheap option for travelling in New Zealand on a budget, is to relocate a car. When you are lucky, you pay nothing and they even pay for the petrol. The downside is, that you have to travel a certain amount of km’s in a few days, or even a day. you don’t have complete freedom. But it’s definitely one of the cheapest ways to travel the country.
Couchsurfing is awesome. The concept: you stay at someones place for free. You give back by sharing something, like food or just a great time, good stories. You also give back to the community to host surfers when you’re back home.
Members (hosts and surfers) have a profile so you can look for likeminded people to stay with. It’s safe as long as you use it wisely. My tip here: always read references and don’t stay at someone who has less than 8 (positive) references.
The best people I met here, I all met while Couchsurfing. Couchsurfers are way more social than campers. They are all open minded globetrotters and they have great stories to tell. At some places, you are not the only surfer. You meet other travellers, share experiences.
Local people can tell you all about their culture and beautiful places in the area.
If you haven’t yet, try it. Join the community, you won’t regret it!
6) SHOPPING: New Zealand on a budget? Go to the cheap shops!
Do you need anything, from a cheap tent to new shoes to a blanket to an insulated travel mug? Go to one of these shops:
KMART (camping stuff, outdoor gear, clothes, underwear, home decor, bedding, gadgets and more)
OPP SHOPS/opportunity shops (these are second hand stores, for example Eco Store, Salvation Army and local second hand shops. These are the place to be when you are building your van. They have mattresses, linnen, towels, kitchenware, mostly in good condition. Go to the OPP shops in the good neighbourhood when you’re looking for quality)
THE WAREHOUSE (clothes, electronic devices, arts and crafts, camping stuff, kitchenware)
PANEL BEATERS, CAR WRECKERS, AUTOMOTOR DISMENTLERS (when something happens to the outside of your car)
7) DON’TS: Stay away from alcohol and tobacco
I know, this one is a little tricky for addicts, but if you can, staying away or reducing the use of these two stimulants will save you heaps, because they are super super expensive in New Zealand.
Don’t ask my why I know this, I don’t smoke, but a pack of cigarets costs about 26 NZD. No, I’m not exaggerating. The cheapest bottle of wine will cost you about $7, which isn’t too bad when you don’t drink a bottle a day.
8) WORK: Find seasonal/temporary work
I haven’t worked here yet myself, but everybody else does. And if you want to travel in New Zealand on a budget, you might have to. It’s super easy to find (and quit) seasonal jobs here. You can do farmwork and stay for a week, a month or longer. When you’re done with it, you go to the next place. Mostly they ask you to stay for at least 1 or 2 months, but nobody does and they know it (is what people who did it told me).
This is not rocket science and you could have come up with this yourself,
but I would like to share some places that are cheap or free. This will definitely help you to travel in New Zealand on a budget.
WIFI | Mc’Donald’s (buy a coffee), local library’s (free), café’s (buy a coffee)
SHOWER | Local swimming pools (2$-5$ for a shower), outdoor showers (free, see WikiCamps), and of course the ocean, lakes and springs.
Those were my tips for travelling New Zealand on a budget.. When doing this, everybody is able to travel the country. Oh wait, I promised a bonus…
BONUS TIP: booking activities. Use a website, do it off season and book in advance
Everything is expensive here, especially touristy stuff. If you’d like to do bungee jumping, skydiving, glacier hikes, helicopter tours, kayak tours or anything else, and you don’t want to kill your budget, this is your website:
OFF SEASON | When you’re planning on doing expensive activities, try to do them off season. I wanted to do a Heli Hike on Franz Josef Glacier in December. The price was $850. I did the same Heli Hike in April. I payed $410 (through Bookme).
Save money, do the touristy stuff off season.
BOOK HUTS | This hasn’t to do anything with money, but it’s worth mentioning anyway because I’m still sad about this. If you’re planning to do one of the great walks: book your hut months in advance. I wasn’t able to do a multiple day great walk because I didn’t book anything.
As I mentioned, I spend not over 750 euro (1000 NZD) a month since I arrived in New Zealand. And I didn’t even work for money.
So is New Zealand expensive..Yes.
Is travelling in New Zealand on a budget possible? Absolutely.
Travelling in New Zealand on a budget: you will have even more fun than with a big budget.
Why will you have more fun?
You meet locals trough Couchsurfing, volunteering and hitchhiking. They take you to places where you won’t come as a tourist.
Through volunteering and Couchsurfing, you will really learn about the culture, the Kiwi Lifestyle.
You learn new skills while volunteering.
You meet more travellers (you also meet other backpackers in hostels, but yeah, what can I say. If you come to New Zealand to get drunk and smoke weed all the time, you might like the average hostel. I’m not really the hostel type (or I’m simply too old, help!).
More fun, for less money… Which means, you will save money for your next trip!
Do you have any questions or anything to add to the list? Please comment below 🙂