We spent half of our time in New Zealand traveling quickly, touring the North and South Islands, and half of our time traveling slowly, living in an apartment in Auckland. As you can imagine, our travel expenses vary significantly depending on the type of travel we were doing, so I’ve decided to report our travel expenses separately.
- Accommodation: $420
Cost for double rooms at hostels, some with private bathrooms (when we had the option) and some with shared bathrooms (when no other option was available).
- Groceries: $40-75
We periodically made grocery stops during our New Zealand bus travels. More expensive weeks occurred on the South Island’s west coast, where there are fewer dining options.
- Dining: $285
Weekly meal expenses included breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on the road.
- Entertainment & activities: $100
This category includes rafting in Rotorua, Brian’s surfing lesson in Raglan, gondola and luge activities in Queenstown, and a trip to Milford Sound.
- Cell phone: $3
Brian purchased a prepaid SIM card from Vodafone upon our arrival in New Zealand for 29.50 NZD (~22 USD). He topped it up once during our three month visit for 20 NZD, and the total cost is split between our slow and fast travel segments.
- Transportation: $235
Transportation expenses are mainly our Max and Patch bus passes from Stray Travel.
Fast Travel Expenses, per week: $1,083-$1,118
New Zealand: Slow Travel (quoted weekly in US Dollars)
- Rent & utilities: $165
We subleased a tiny one bedroom, one bath apartment in Auckland’s CBD, including electricity, water and Internet for six weeks.
- Groceries: $83
Family chef Brian cooked frequently during our time in Auckland. We’re surprised the weekly totals here are so close to those during our fast-travel segments because we definitely bought more groceries while in Auckland.
- Dining: $130
Although we ate many of our meals at home, we enjoyed 5-7 meals out each week as well.
- Entertainment & activities: $31
We saw Complexions Dance Company during our stay, and we occasionally purchased bottles of wine or visited the local Belgian beer pub.
- Cell phone: $3
See note above about Brian’s prepaid cell phone.
- Transportation: $10
We generally walked around Auckland because it’s easily navigable by foot, but when we wanted to go farther distances, we took a bus or ferry.
Slow Travel Expenses, per week: $422
Wow, what a difference between fast and slow travel! I just totaled the sums for the first time and even I’m amazed to see that fast travel costs more than double our weekly slow-travel expenses. But, that was my whole point in writing this post. Some folks have said that what we’re doing is impossible for them due to the expense, but I believe part of that is that they’re accustomed to the expenses of vacationing. The kind of travel we generally do is not vacationing — it’s living like locals in a new area and slowly enjoying our surroundings — and, as such, it can be done a lot more cost-effectively than you might think.
Are you as surprised as I am by the cost difference between slow travel and fast travel? Have you seen something similar in your own travels?