Trying to determine what a typical New Zealand road trip budget can be tricky. I recently took a solo 2-week road trip on the South Island.

Here are all of my expenses from the 2-week trip. It’s important to note that my Escape Campervan Rental was free of charge, so figure in what a rental would cost depending on the type of van or car you choose. I’ll break down the numbers by item and then provide total percentages at the end.

At the time of publishing the exchange rate was 1 United States Dollar to 1.43 New Zealand Dollar. All expenses displayed are in USD. 

My trusted notebook: Tracking expenses and journal for the adventure
My trusted notebook: Tracking expenses and my experiences during my New Zealand road trip

New Zealand Road Trip Budget

Day 1:  Christchurch to Lake Tekapo 153.6 miles
Insurance with Escape Campervan Rental: $284.82
Groceries: $115.79
Gasoline: $52.45
Sleeping bag/Lonely Planet Guide/Solar Lamp: $14.11
Campsite Fee: $3.53
Day 1 total: $470.70

Day 2: Lake Tekapo to Bendigo 138.1 miles
Coffee: $2.47
Butane bottle for stove: $2.81
Gasoline: $41.11
Campsite: Free
Day 2 total: $46.39

Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo

Day 3: Bendigo to Queenstown 69.4 miles
Gasoline: $45.88
Coffee: $2.82
Campsite: $7.05
Day 3 total: $55.75

Day 4: Queenstown to Albert Town (with scenic drive to Glenorchy) 109.6 miles
Coffee and scone: $6.00
Coffee: $2.47 (it rained nearly all day so coffee x 2 was necessary)
Campsite: $4.94
Day 4 total: $13.41

Day 5: Albert Town to Lake Paringa 128.1 miles 15
Gasoline: $49.53
Coffee: $2.68
Butane bottle for stove: $3.17
Batteries for headlamp: $2.68
Campsite: $4.23
Day 5 total: $62.29

16 lake camp
Lake Paringa

Day 6: Lake Paringa to Fox Glacier 45.7 miles
Coffee: $2.68
Hostel: $14.11 (Poured all day, stayed indoors to work and cook)
Laundry: $7.05
Day 6 total: $23.84

Day 7: Fox Glacier to Greymouth 153.1 miles
Gasoline: $52.36
Day 7 total: $55.53 

Day 8: Greymouth to Westport 78.1 miles
Printing at library: $.71
Postage for postcards: $4.23
Postage to mail tax forms to States: $3.53
Coffee: $2.68
Necklace: $21.61
Coffee: $2.82
Campsite: $3.53
Day 8 total: $39.11

Day 9: Westport to Richmond 141.4 miles
Gasoline: $42.81
Coffee: $2.82
Buller Gorge Swing Bridge: $7.05
Camping: $13.40
Day 9 total: $66.08

Day 10: Richmond-Tasman (with drive to Abel Tasman National Park) 48.0 miles 
Coffee: $2.47
Abel Tasman Boat Tour: $53.61
Coffee: $2.47
Wi-Fi at Tourist Center: $3.53
Campsite: $3.53
Day 10 total: $65.61

Abel Tasman Boat Tour: Split Apple Rock
Abel Tasman Boat Tour: Split Apple Rock

Day 11: Tasman to Nelson 41.0 miles 
Coffee: $2.47
Another coffee: $2.47
Beers out on the town (visited a friend in Nelson): $17.63
Hostel: $10.58
Day 11 total: $33.15

Day 12: Nelson to Blenheim 74.9 miles
Gasoline: 62.81
Groceries: $12.91
Campsite: $11.99
Day 12 total: $87.71

Day 13: Blenheim to Hapuku 77.6 miles 
Replacement cooking pan for van: $11.29 (dropped and shattered lid at hostel kitchen – whoops)
Coffee: $2.82
Campsite: Free
Day 13 total: $14.11

Day 14: Hapuku to Christchurch 128.3 miles
Coffee: $2.82
Gasoline: $10.57
Day 14 total: $13.39

East Coast Camping
East Coast Camping

14-DAY GRAND TOTAL: $1,047.07
Daily average: $74.79
Total mileage: 1385.3

The majority of my money was spent on transportation, as gasoline isn’t friendly to the New Zealand road trip budget. I didn’t mind the expense as my van became my home away from home. It allowed me to camp in beautiful areas and experience places I would have missed if always staying in a hotel.

I opted for the most expensive insurance option (Option C) which cost me about $21 buck a day. I thought it was worth paying extra for peace of mind. Escape Rentals so lovingly named that insurance option “No worries mate” which is awesome.

Percentage breakdown of my New Zealand Road Trip Budget
Percentage breakdown of my New Zealand Road Trip Budget

Accommodation (campsite fees, parking at hostel fees): $76.89
Food (Groceries, coffee. So many coffees.): $174.83
Transport (Insurance, gasoline): $642.34
Entertainment (Boat tour, Swing Bridge, etc.): $99.90
Miscellaneous: (Butane bottles, batteries, etc): $53.11

Was it worth the money? 

Yes. It was totally worth it. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat. Mind you it would have been a lot cheaper if this wasn’t a solo trip. Given my work schedule as a digital nomad and the short 2-week window, I decided to do this trip on my own and glad I did so.

Other notes:

I did not include other expenses like health insurance and other travel insurance. I always recommend covering yourself. I always travel with World Nomads Travel Insurance and highly recommend it. I did not spend a ton on entertainment options, which would raise the budget quite a bit. For me my entertainment came from free options like hiking and beach visits. Be sure to factor in more money if you’re into bungee jumping or other tourist type trips.

Related New Zealand Road Trip blogs:
Keep Left: A New Zealand Drivers Guide 

12 Campervan Essentials 

Photo Essay: New Zealand Road Trip in 41 Photos 

 Side note: As stated before, Escape Rentals provided the campervan rental free of charge. Keep in mind that I’ll always give my wholehearted opinion, no matter who is footing the bill. 

New Zealand Road Trip Budget

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