You have decided how you want to travel across New Zealand and already have an idea where you want to travel first? Then lets get going!
Shopping on a budget
I doubt that you packed everything you need. For cheap camping gear and all kinds of everyday stuff I recommend visiting ”The Warehouse“, they have everything cheap and made in China. If you are looking for some higher quality camping gear go to a hardware store like ”Mitre 10“, but its gonna cost you. I would not recommend buying the cheapest option at the hardware store though, as they are usually more expensive but of the same quality as Warehouse products. For reference, our super cheap gas cooker was scrap metal after six months.
Cheap food can be bought at ”Countdown“ or ”Pak ’n’ Save“. Prices vary quite vividly depending on where you are so stock up on noodles and canned good when you see a cheap offer. In the more rural areas usually ”Four Square“ is your only option. They don’t have a set range of products, however, so don’t expect to find everything you need. As far as I know, all of the other supermarkets belong to either ”Countdown“ or ”Pak ’n’ save“ and are usually sightly more expensive. Keep in mind that driving to the next big store might end up costing you more than going to the nearby, slightly more expensive, store.
Fuel it up
This is only really applicable for those traveling by car but fuel prices also vary really surprisingly depending on where you are. I have the feeling that their prices are not determined by the current oil prices but rather by how expensive last weeks delivery was. There is two main ways to save fuel. AA offers a fuel saving card that you can get for free at participating gas stations. Every time you spend more than 40$ at a gas station, you can swipe the card and 6¢/liter are put on the car. Next time you can either add an additional 6¢ or redeem the discount – saving the amount on your card with every liter of fuel you buy.
The second option are fuel dockets. Depending on which supermarket you visit, you have to spend a certain amount and will then get a fuel docket that grants you a discount at participating gas stations. Quick survival tip: Keep a full fuel can in the back of your car. Some roads don’t have a gas station every 50km.
Million Star Hotel
Unless you choose to stay in a hostel, you will end up on a campground almost every night. Be aware that freedom camping is highly illegal in NZ and that the fine is 200$. Some areas will still allow you to freedom camp, however you will need a self contained certified vehicle. In terms of campgrounds, everything exists: from overpriced holiday parks to places so run down that you should stop at a public toilet before going there. The cheaper a campground, the early you will have to be there in order to get a spot but we never had trouble finding a place to sleep for the night. Keep in mind that campground offices sometimes close quite early so you will have to at least stop by before in order to purchase a spot.
Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
At some point on every long trip you will need to stock up your wallet in order to keep going. I already wrote an entire article talking about how we found work on a vineyard. My biggest advice is that you should have a general plan about when you want to work, especially if you don’t stay for an entire year. Backpacker jobs like picking apples or kiwis are easy to get but you can’t pick anything if it isn’t ripe. Inform yourself beforehand about when the picking and thinning seasons are and start looking for a job a few weeks before. Just stop at the farms and orchards and ask the owners for work. I haven’t had any unfriendly reactions from doing that and very often people give you a hint on where you might find work.
I also met many people that work on hostel receptions or in restaurants. Although these jobs are not as seasonal as fruit jobs, getting them is a little harder and you will need an actual resume/CV.
I understand that many people want to entirely disconnect while in NZ and they are welcome to do so, but I have found the internet to be extremely helpful in many backpacking situations. There is plenty of Facebook groups with thousands of people doing or at least planning to do the same. You can find jobs and cars, simply ask for advice, or try to get a lift somewhere. Instead of running to ”The Warehouse“ as soon as you arrive, you might want to take a look into these groups and check if anyone is selling their camping gear. Moreover, there is all kinds of Apps out there to assist you. My favorite has to be ”Campermate“ which helps you find the closest campground, gas station, wifi hotspot, supermarket… (this is NOT a paid endorsement).
I really hope this guide was helpful for planning your adventure. If you have any questions left, feel free to write a comment or hit me up on twitter (@nicomkst). And if your mom is really worried about you going on a backpacking adventure, tell her Nico said its not that bad (because it really isn’t). Somehow you will be able to tackle every obstacle that you might run into while in NZ.