I would say that I honestly didn't plan this trip thoroughly, as I only decided about 1 month before my trip. But I managed to cut costs here n there to make it somewhat a budget trip.
Why did I choose NZ anyway? I'm a huge LOTR fan and I wanted to see all the beautiful scenery of New Zealand!
My Plan was simple, take a chillax trip, no rushing, and that I wouldn't go down to the south Island as I know I don't have enough time to enjoy everything if i do go down there. I'll keep that for next year!
My travel route was:
Auckland > Mata-mata > Rotorua > Wellington > Auckland
Day 1 (Auckland) - Stay 4 nights at Nomads Backpackers
Auckland - Explore Around
Chilling around Auckland
Bungy Jump & One Tree Hill Volcano (Trail)
Takapuna & Devonport
Day 5 (Mata mata & Rotorua) - Stay 1 night at Crash Palace Backpackers (Rotorua)
Spa at Rotorua
Day 6 (Rotorua)
Explore Nature Trails, Volcanic Pools
Overnight bus to Wellington [7 hours]
Day 7 (Wellington) - Stay 1 night at Nomads Wellington
Day 8 (Wellington)
Overnight bus to Auckland [11 hours]
Day 9 (Auckland) - Stay 2 nights at Nomads Camel Backpackers
Free & Easy - I headed to Takapuna to meet a friend
Waiheke Island - Wine Trip
Back to Kuala Lumpur
I was initially planning to take Airasia, as their flights were only RM2,100 for a return ticket. Then I got really blessed, as a company called Parlo Tours gave me a RM2,000 travel voucher. YAZZZZ! Thanks Parlo Tours for sponsoring me that amount for my flights!
So I decided to take Malaysia Airlines instead, as their tickets were RM2,600 return, so I only needed to top up RM600 for it!
But anyway I'll just cost it in as RM2,100 for flights as that was what I'm supposed to pay if I wasn't sponsored.
Total: RM2,100 ($700 NZD)
My awesome flight-mate, Elia from Toulouse! (Toulouse is the southern region of France, and that is where i studied! =D)
Transportation in New Zealand
From the Airport to the city, There is a bus shuttle for $32 return ticket. This is the cheapest way if you're a solo traveler. If you're with a group of friends, you can opt for a mini van, which the rates maybe slightly cheaper.
Most places within Auckland City is pretty walkable, and you can always take the buses/ferries to different places. There is a card called AT HOP, which you can use for the Buses, Trains and some Ferries. It costs $10 and you would have to top it up to use it. (Do note that AT HOP can only be used at Auckland, it doesn't work at other cities like Wellington etc)
Should you buy an AT HOP Card? it really depends actually, on how much you're using the transportation system over there. AT HOP Cards get a discounted rate (like a concessions fare) compared to normal individual tickets.
Here is the fare rate, and normally the maximum you'll go is 2 zones
For myself, even though I was going to many places, I didn't use AT HOP because the difference was really minimal. AT Hop requires you to top up in multiples of $5, hence look at my calculation below:
As for travelling to the other locations in New Zealand, I used Intercity Buses which are pretty reliable and on time. For overnight buses, if you're lucky you're able to get 2 seats and if you're Asian enough, you can somehow curl into a ball and sleep nicely LOL
$15 Auckland > Mata mata (Hobbiton) [3 hours]
$15 Mata mata > Rotorua [1 hour]
$29 Rotorua > Wellington [7 hours overnight bus]
$30 Wellington > Auckland [11 hours overnight bus]
For the trips to the islands, you will be using Fuller Ferries (which you can't use the AT HOP Card). How do you save on it? There are Free guide books from the Airport, and inside em are 10% coupons which you can use for the ferries! Keep an eye out for em
Return Ferry to Rangitoto - $27 ($30 if without coupon)
Return Ferry to Waiheke - $32 ($36 if without coupon)
In Waiheke you would also need to get an all day bus pass for $10
Another way you can get a great discount from Fuller's ferries is through their discount page. There are certain time slots where you can even get a one way ticket at $10! But of course, these tickets are not refundable/exchangeable, and also you have to stick to that time slot which is allocated.
Do check here for more info: https://www.fullers.co.nz/events-plus-deals/hot-seat-deals/
so in summary for the transportation cost:
$32 Airport Bus Transfer
$34.20 Bus & Devonport Ferry
$69 Fullers Ferries
Transportation Grand Total: $224.20 NZD
I chose to stay in hostels this time, as I wanted to be in the city itself which is more accessible to everywhere else. A tip to save money on accommodation is to pay straight up to the website which you book it from, as if you pay the 10% deposit only, there'll be an extra 2.8% charge if you pay by international credit cards at the hostel itself (normal NZ rules for hostels there)
The budget should be about RM60-80 per night, and I used mostly Agoda and Hostelworld.com to book my accommodation.
Another tip which will allows you to save is by using a website called Shopback.my. Shopback is a website that links up to Agoda/Hostelworld etc and it gives you cashback for each transaction you made. A normal cashback rate for accommodation is 5% - 8% cashback per booking, and also there are special promos sometimes for certain merchants (eg. Agoda) which gives a RM35 cashback for transactions RM200 and above!
I also got lucky as i got free upgrades for all the rooms that I booked for
As for my places of stay I chose:
1) Nomads Backpackers Auckland (4 Nights)
The price price was RM294 for 4 nights, and since i used shopback, I got the RM35 cashback for this transaction. Final Price: RM259 for 4 nights
I booked a 12 mixed dorm in this hostel, but was upgraded to a 4 mixed room. It was really good as we have our own personal bathroom and toilet for this.
The location of this hostel is really strategic, just next to Queen Street and a 5 minute walk from the Ferries, Trains and Buses. The only down side is that the front desk operates pretty slow.
2) Crash Palace Backpackers Rotorua (1 night)
It was RM78 for the night, and after the 6% cashback for this transaction, it was RM73 for the night. I was also pretty lucky that I was the only one in the room that night!
This hostel is pretty much the most happening hostel in Rotorua, as it has daily themed nights where you can win free beer! It is also just next to the Polynesian Spa, so its super strategic. Other than that, they do provide free pasta, rice, herbs and spices for you to cook. You can save a bit of moolah if you would wanna cook
the only drawback is that there is a $10 fee to leave your luggage after 6pm (This is because I needed to take the Intercity bus at 11pm after the checkout) But there was an incident where my Maori Tours which i booked through the front desk didn't go through and i couldn't see the Maori village. So they didn't charge me the $10 fee and also gave me a free beer that day
3) Nomads Capital Backpackers Wellington (1 night)
Nomads Capital Backpackers was the most expensive hostel I stayed in New Zealand at RM80 per night, after minusing the 8% cashback from Shopback. The hostel is located smacked at the city centre, and is only a 15 minute walk from the Bus Station (Where you Alight off the overnight bus)
But the main reason why i chose this hostel is: FREE PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST (You're able to save cash on 2 breakfasts already[the morning you arrive after the overnight bus and the following morning when you're departing) and also, THEY GIVE FREE DINNER TOO!
So pretty much you would save 3 meals already if you stay at this hostel!
4) Nomads Camel Backpackers Auckland (2 nights)
Honestly I booked the wrong hostel LOL, I wanted to book Nomads Auckland again, but instead i accidentally booked this which was a few doors down.
This hostel was the cheapest at RM114 (RM57 per night) after the 8% cashback. This hostel is slightly older, so it isn't as clean or upkept compared to Nomads Auckland. So i wouldn't suggest this hostel for the faint hearted. The only good part is that it is still in a very strategic location and there is a bar downstairs that serves beer at $5 per mug.
Total cost for accommodation: RM526 ($175 NZD)
I would honestly tell you that I spent quite little on food with a few exceptional meals. I would normally buy bread and muesli bars from the the grocer for breakfast. My favourite would be the pumpkin bread ($3 per loaf) and Countdown muesli bars ($2 for 8 bars). Just wrap em up together and its a pretty good brekkie or a snack during the day. I would honestly say i went OD on muesli bars as i love em so much
For lunches and dinners, you should try to budget about $10 per meal or less (I went over the budget la LOL)
For lunch I normally I had subways ($4,50 for 6" Sub of the day/$8 for a foot long), I prefer this as it is much more filling compared to McD at about $10-15 per meal
Dab beer! and the DABBING STARTS!
The Friday Food truck area
Cheap asian eats
and for dinner, I had japanese ramen ($8-10 per bowl), Donburis ($7.50), Fish & Chips ($6-$10)
Cheap Fish & Chips
and the occasional treats, I had Sal's Pizza ($20 per pax), Carls Jr's ($15), Fresh Seafood ($35)
Sal's with Ashley & Doug
Some nice lamb with Jennifer
Hello Jenn! hot mama of 3!
For alcohol, most bars will serve a pint from $5 - $15 depending on the brand and how exclusive the bar is. You should also try some of their craft beers in wellington
Of course its best to just get a bottle and take away
A nice beer at the viaduct
Late nights with this one
Cost for the 11 days
(I had 2 free breakfasts from the Nomads Wellington) - Average of $2.90 per meal
(I had 1 free lunch from Jennifer) - Average of $11 per meal (Slightly high as I had fresh seafood for one of my lunches)
(1 had 1 free dinner from Nomad's Wellington) - Average of $9 per meal
(5 nights out) - Average of $10 per night out
(I'm not including my Waiheke Wines under this category)
Total Cost of Food: $313.90 NZD
As for the attractions that I visited at New Zealand, here is the list of things I did based on locations:
Things to do at Auckland
1) Explore the City Centre & Parks around Auckland
Of course the first thing you would want to do when you arrive is to check out your surroundings and familiarize yourself with the area. One of the best ways is to go for the Free Walking Tours (http://aucklandfreewalkingtours.co.nz/) but sadly they weren't operating when I went there.
There are also plenty of parks around Auckland, and its a pretty chill area for a snack, watching the trees bloom or just for you to laze the day away and read a book.
The Civic Theatre
The Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra
Auckland Domain with Song Leong & Doug
2) One Tree hill
It is about a 20min bus ride away from the city, You're able to see the old volcanic crater over there, and walk around this massive park. It has a beautiful view of Auckland city when you reach the peak, and if you have the $$ you can also go to the observatory telescope and check out the stars.
There are plenty of sheep running around there too!
Pretty good place to chill eyh?
Sheep roaming around
Peak of One Tree Hill
Some people got real' creative
The peak of One Tree Hill
The view from the top
3) Harbour Bridge Bungy Jump
I chose this from the Auckland Tower Jump as well, if anything happens, I'll fall into the water LOL. Of course your first bungy jump should be at New Zealand, and you should save your bungy-virginity for it
Cost: $160 for jump, $40 for photos
The Harbour Bridge Bungy Jump allows you to walk on the Harbour Bridge Maintenance line, to get to the jump pod. The Bungy Jump itself is 40m, and you have a choice if you wanna get splashed into the ocean or not! (I opted for it but sadly, they didn't calibrate the bungy properly and I was just inches away from the water)
Honestly it was a pretty scary experience to me, as I was just chillin waiting for my turn to jump as we had to wait for the boats to pass. Believe me, just waiting and looking down, thats the part that makes you shit bricks LOL
Take a 20 min bus (From Civic Center) to Takapuna on a Sunday Morning as there is the Sunday market! You can see a lot of local produce and also a lot of funky eats over there. There is also a beach over there so if you fancy a dip in the cold cold water, yeah you can go ahead! There is also a lot of people paddle boarding over there and there are plenty of dogs playing at the beach.
If you're bringing your kids, there's a massive playground over there as well!
Takapuna Town Centre
After your trip to Takapuna, take a connecting bus to Devonport which will take about 10-15 minutes. This is maritime heritage town, where you can see all the old buildings and also is where the naval base is at.
You can also trail Mt Victoria (about 20 minutes trail up) where you can see a nice 360 view of the city and surrounding islands, and also the old navy defenses from ages ago.
The Heritage Town
Peak of Mt Victoria
Pretty much a good day to soak up the sun
6) Fish Market
The fish market in Auckland will satisfy your seafood cravings. you would just need to walk about 20 minutes from the jetty, and there's lots of fresh seafood daily. Do note they only open about 10 am onwards (I have no idea why LOL)
7) Rangitoto Island
Get onto a Fuller's ferry at the jetty heading to Rangitoto Island (remember to use the coupon to save 10% on your ferry ride or get the hot seat prices). Rangitoto island is a 20 minute ferry ride from Auckland City, and it is a nature reserve.
What do you do there? You trek of course! It is a 1 hour trail to the peak, and you'll be standing at the top of the Rangitoto Volcano with a splendid 360 view. You're also able to walk through the lava caves which is pretty cool
Do note to bring your own food and water there, as there are no eateries or vending machines there.
Departing Auckland CBD
Arriving at Rangitoto
The view of Auckland City
The Lava Caves
Mckenzie Bay with Boon Seng from Klang!
8) Waiheke Island
Wine Wine and Wine! Waiheke Island is one of the best Islands to get wine at as there are plenty of wineries there! I would suggest you to take an early Fullers ferry there (40 mins) and start the day by drinking away! We took the 9am ferry there and the 7pm ferry back for this.
At the vineyards, you're able to get tasters or full glasses to your preference. and if you like the wines, you can even buy the bottles there and then.
I chose not to take a tour, as it seemed pretty limited on where they bring you, so I just decided to go free and easy on this one. Just get the day bus pass over there, and walk to the vineyards that you would want to go to. Do plan to use a full day here, as you would have to walk certain distances to some vineyards. and as from my experience, I was done drinking at 6pm LOL
Food here is pretty pricey as well, so if you would take away some food
Cost: $57 on wine (I tried about 15 wines over there)
Stony ridge Cellars
Our first glass of wine
Te motu Cellar
Te motu Vinyard
Walking to obsidian cellar, behind her cute lil tushie!
Cable Bay Restaurant
Cable Bay Vinyard - one of the best views
Chilling the day away :)
9) Sky Tower
If you have the budget to go for a sky walk or a second bungy jump here, its definitely recommended as well! Or just a simple time at the casino trying your luck :)
With Ashley, Doug & Song Leong
There is nothing much to do in Mata-mata except Hobbiton. Every LOTR fan will definitely have to put this on the list and get a fresh ale at the Green Dragon. For non LOTR fans, just head there to make your friends jealous!
For this I took the 8am Intercity bus from Auckland (3 hours) and headed for the Hobbiton Tour at 11.45am. The tour bus will pick you up from I-site Mata-mata, and will take a 15 min drive to the Hobbiton set
Over here you're able to see all the hobbit holes, Bag-End, The Party Tree, The Green Dragon and more! It is located on a farm, so you'll see plenty of sheep and cattle roaming around here and there as well.
Once the tour is over, you can take the next Intercity bus at 4pm to Rotorua (So you wont be in Mata-mata that night)
Our awesome guide
Sam wise's house
Aunty Jean from Philippines
The Green Dragon
Southfarthing fine ale
Getting a pint!
Defo a must go!
1) Polynesian Spa
This spa features a lot of hot pools of different temperatures. These are Geothermal pools and it has pretty good minerals in it for your skin. It really is a place to unwind after a good few days of busy schedules
Do bring your own Towel and Bathing Shorts, as they will charge $5 per piece if you would want to rent it from them.
2) Walking Trail along Rotorua Lake
This is a 2-3 hour trail alongside the lake. You're able to see plenty of wild birds nesting around, and also the volcanic pools over there.
If you're not able to go to the polynesian spa, there is a free geothermal foot pool at the end of the trail
The starting of the trail
How can you not fall in love with this scenery?
A maui boat
Chilling with the swans
The scenery towards Kuirau Park
Sulphuric rocks @ Kuirau Park
Free foot soaking sulphuric pools
Chilling with my new pinoy friends :) Lance, Eric and Jerick
3) Maori Village - supposedly $80
I would so kill to go for this but sadly my booking was misplaced, and I didn't get to go for it
This includes a trip to the village, to experience Maori Culture and Food. They will also bring you to the glow worm caves
Things to do at Wellington
1) Explore the city and just get lost :)
The old cinema
St Pauls Church
Just had to :)
2) The Great War Exhibition
The Great War Exhibition is about a 15 minute walk from the CBD, and is pretty interesting as you get to know more about the battles of the First World War. Also, it was created by Peter Jackson! (I'm LOTR-ing all the things here LOL)
The War Memorial
Inside the war memorial
The unknown soldier
The great war museum
Some of the exhibits:
This museum tells the story of Wellington, and how it all started. If you love culture, this would be a great place to go and I spent about 2 1/2 hours there. It is a pretty small museum, but its power packed with quite a good exhibition
being the judge LOL
This tapestry tells the tale of Maui the demigod and how NZ was formed
4) Oriental Bay Beach
The beach is pretty small compared to Takapuna's, but is a good place to chill. Grab a sandwich over there and watch the waves while you see dogs roaming around catching balls.
5) Botanical Parks
The Wellington Botanical Parks is about a 20 minute walk from the CBD. It is pretty big in size and there are plenty of trails to go about. I did enjoy it as most of the flowers were starting to bloom during spring, and there was even some commemorative services going on there as they were pitching up another memorial there.
6) Mt Victoria
Another trail away from the city, its about a 20 minute trail to the peak, where you can see a great view of Wellington City and the harbour. It is a pretty easy trail up but was a little rainy that day, but still worth it to get to the top. met a bunch of Malaysians there and also Choulyin's relatives!
Road towards Mt Victoria
The Trail up
Choulyin's Relatives, Uncle George & Aunty Meda
Some monument near the peak
The View of Wellington City
7) Try out their coffee's and craft beer
Wellington is like the Melbourne of Australia, and they serve pretty good coffees and craft beers. there are a few coffee bars and bar outlets which serve these drinks all day, the craft beers are slightly more expensive but definitely worth a try
Cost: already included with food budget
8) Wellington Waterfront
Another good place to chill and soak up the sun. there are a few knick knack shops over there, and has a great view overseeing the harbour.
8) Old St Pauls
One of the places you should definitely visit at Wellington. It is an old gothic church that was built in 1865, The wood architecture of the church is really one of a kind and they still keep the old relics from the past over there.
The famous bee hive building in Wellington is good for a photo opt after visiting Old St Pauls (as it is just 5 minutes away) I didn't go inside, but well this can just be a stop by while heading back to the CBD
The Parliament Buildings
That bee hive
10) Cuba Street
Cuba Street is a hipster street with plenty of coffee bars and restaurants. There are a lot of street performers doing their thing over here, and you're able to pick up some souvenirs here as well.
So here is the total budget spent during my trip:
RM2,100.00 Flights ($700 NZD)
RM 672.60 Transportation: ($224.20 NZD)
RM 526.00 Accommodation (175 NZD)
RM 941,70 Food ($313.90 NZD)
RM1,131.00 Attractions ($377 NZD)
RM5,371.30 Total Cost ($1790 NZD)
It can definitely cheaper if i cut down on the food haha! But considerably it is still an affordable budget trip
Thanks for spending your time to read through this! Do let me know if you did better! Other people can defo benefit from it! :)