The Cost of Our Family Trip to New Zealand

I’m not sure I can even face totting up our New Zealand trip costs. Can I just say the cost of our trip to New Zealand is a lot?!

There are so many components to this epic family trip. Of course I love travel, so this trip is priceless, but money doesn’t grow on trees so this is also a lot to admit to in black and white.

Our New Zealand Vacation Costs – The Nitty and Gritty!

Our Family Holiday to New Zealand

We’re a family of four, including a 2 year old and 4 year old. We’ll be spending 22 days in New Zealand. We’re flying from the UK and have created our own three week itinerary in New Zealand, including both the north and south island. We’re travelling and staying in a motorhome for the duration of the trip, except for the first and last night when we’re staying in a hotel.

Trying to Budget New Zealand

I recognise that as a travel blogger many others would have sought partnerships for accommodation, van rental and so on (i.e. gifted stays and experiences in return for coverage), but like our last few trips, we’ve organised and paid for the lot ourselves.

This gives us greater flexibility about where we stay and what we do. It also takes the pressure off creating content. Yes, I have no doubts I’ll write about it all (I mean this is my second post and we haven’t even been yet!), but I want to be present when we’re there. I don’t want to stress about getting the perfect shot, particularly as I don’t share photos of my children’s faces – it’s hard work getting that perfect shot for my own family album (i.e. with their faces in it) and then one for the blog (i.e. without their faces).

This is also likely to be our last big family holiday for a little while as my 4 year old starts school in September, so that’s another reason why I want to savour each moment. Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk money.

I’ve broken the costs down and then further below I’ve also explained how and when we’ve paid for various bits. Maybe it’s too much information, but I like reading these sorts of things as it feels real, if you know what I mean.

Flights to New Zealand

The flights cost us a total of £3,077*. £3,477. This is made up of £2,877 for the fare and then an extra £200 for the Skycouch.

*Since writing this post we’ve had to fork out an extra £400 due to the coronavirus. Our original flights went through mainland China. The FCO announced people shouldn’t travel there, but our airline wouldn’t reroute free of charge, so in the end it cost us. We have an insurance claim pending.

The Skycouch is a way of making economy seats more comfortable. It turns a row of seats into a couch that can be used as a makeshift bed or play area. We only get to enjoy it for the leg from Shanghai to Auckland (both ways), but we feel the minimal cost is absolutely worth it when travelling with the kids.

Our flights out go from London to Auckland (north island) via Shanghai. Our flights back go from Christchurch (south island) to Auckland to London, again via Shanghai. We booked directly with Air New Zealand and one leg (each way) will be operated with Virgin Atlantic.

I would say we definitely could have got the flights cheaper and in fact they were listed for a cheaper price, but when we tried to buy them the site kept showing an error message. We went back and forth on the phone with them, but they wouldn’t honour the lower fee.

The flights with a shorter layover were the cheapest, but the thought of trying to rush the kids off one plane to another made me feel uneasy. It’s bad enough trying to get them to put their shoes on to leave the house, let alone from plane to plane when they’re tired. We’ve gone for a 5 hour layover – enough time to run them about in the airport and to get a meal.

I appreciate we also could have saved some money (a few hundred) by flying with another airline, but I had my heart set on using Air New Zealand. When you’re flying for that long and with young children I think it’s worth spending a bit extra (obviously if you can) to feel safe and happy.

We looked at upgrading to the next class on any part of the journey, but it was too expensive for us to justify.

Hotel Stays

The hotel stays cost us a total of £267.93. That’s £161 for the first night and £106.93 for the last night.

For our first night we’re staying in a two-bed apartment in Auckland city centre. We land in the morning, but didn’t want to jump straight in the van. I don’t think jet lag and driving make a great combo, and let’s face it, it’s highly likely we won’t get much sleep on the flight with two mini-explorers to entertain!

Again, we could have spent less, but I can’t bear ugly, gross rooms nor did I want us to all be cramped in one room when it’s likely we’ll be jet lagged and irritable.

For the last night, we picked the closest, nicest hotel to the airport as it just seemed to make the most sense with our early morning flight. That is until our flight time changed to the evening. Our booking is non-refundable so we’ve just left the hotel as it is. I’ll link the hotels once we’ve been.

Motorhome Rental

The motorhome rental cost us £2,800.We’re travelling around the islands via a motorhome over a three week period. We’ll also be staying in it for the duration of the trip.

Recommended Reading: Luxury Motorhome Hire in New Zealand – Read This Before Booking

You can choose to freedom camp – where you rock up in approved places for free. They’re typically empty car parks, with no electric or water to hook up to and it’s first come, first served. Some fill up really early and as we have a busy schedule we’ll often be arriving late in the day when most of the spots will likely be gone.

Although we’re using a few of these – ones where we should be able to get in or we have a back-up plan, we didn’t want to take the gamble with the kids. Arriving somewhere late, with tired kiddos and nowhere to stay doesn’t seem like fun.

The alternative is you pay for a pitch at a campsite or someone’s home. The latter vary in terms of what facilities are available. We’ve booked a night through Campable, where you get to stay on someone’s land for next to nothing, and the bulk with family-friendly campsites. We also got a pitch for free on one night as part of our motorhome rental package.

We’ve spent £7.50 for one night via with Campable and £396.98 via campsites.

Use promo code CAMPWELCOME to receive a 5% discount at Campable.

We also need to factor in fuel, but I have no idea how much this will be really.

Other Transport

To get from the north island to the south island we’ll hop on the ferry (with our motorhome). We’ve pre-booked this as we’re on a tight schedule. It cost us £208.

Use the code Instant10 to get 10% discount via Bluebridge Ferries.

We’re spending a bit of time in Abel Tasman. Vehicles aren’t allowed in and as much as the treks look totally dreamy, they would be too much with little legs and our timeframe, so we’ve booked a return water taxi. This will allow us to experience some of the beauty of this place. The water taxi cost us £75 and that’s with the kids going free.

The Cost of Activities in New Zealand

We’ve spent £526 on pre-booked activities. As per usual, we’ve booked everything we want to to do as we treat every trip like it might be our last or at the very least, that we may never get to return, because let’s face it, it’s an absolute luxury to be able to travel to the other side of the world.

The only exception is the helicopter ride in Franz Josef as it’s such a steep cost (around £500). We’ll decide when we’re there if we want to add to our credit card!

We’ve pre-booked activities and spent as follows:

  • £85 on the Hobbiton tour
  • £80 on a family-friendly mud bath and sulphur spa experience
  • £131 on a family dinner experience at Tamaki Mori Village
  • £102 on a family-friendly glowworms tour
  • £73 on a 2-hour Milford Sound cruise
  • £55 on a penguin conservation tour

We’ve also earmarked £28 for the Rotorua Luge.

Food and Drink

We plan to make most of our meals in our motorhome. The kids love a BBQ! That said, I have no doubts that sometimes we’ll be too tired/lazy/hungry and end up eating out.

I’ve heard food and drink is pretty expensive whether you eat in or out, so I’m unsure of how much we’ll spend, but will update this once we’re back.

Beautiful New Zealand

Other Costs

Ordinarily you don’t need a visa to enter New Zealand from the UK, but you do need a New Zealand ETA. This cost us £92 (£23 each).

We’ve spent £68 on an Amazon Kids Fire for our 2 year old. We have one i-pad, which the 4 year old will use. However, this expense will be soaked up during other trips too.

We’ve also just taken out a new travel insurance policy, but as we got an annual family policy the cost of this (£62) will again, be absorbed in other trips.

The Total Cost of Our Trip to New Zealand

So, the scary part…the grand total. £7,478.41! The most I’ve ever spent on a trip!

That figure excludes food, drink and fuel and I guess anything else we decide to do when we’re out there. Our schedule is jam-packed and we’re not really souvenir buyers, so hopefully it won’t be much more.

For a family of four to travel to the other side of the world and enjoy it for three weeks this price doesn’t seem too bad. I dunno. What do you think?!

How We Paid For It

We have booked everything ourselves and for the most part, direct with the providers. We booked the flights first, shoving the cost on our 0% credit card. I always like to lock the flights in as then you know it’s happening. We booked back in September, so five months in advance.

I then started browsing places to stay and activities and found that many were booked up for our dates. That sent me into panic mode and I spent the next week finalising our itinerary, booking campsites and activities. Again, this all got spent via our 0% credit card.

Since then we’ve cleared the credit card using our day job incomes. Jay can earn commission in his role, so that ‘extra’ money has been used to chip away at the balance. He hasn’t got as much as he has done in the past, so it hasn’t been easy, but we like to think the trip will be worth it.

We’ve also swapped Tesco/Ocado/Waitrose shops (the latter were a rare treat!) for Aldi and Lidl shops. We’ve eaten out less and generally just made this trip our priority spend.

So, there you have it, the nitty gritty cost of our holiday to New Zealand. I know it’s not very British to talk about money, but I hope you’ve found it interesting. I’d love to hear how much you spend on holidays or how you budget for them. I find it fascinating and wish they taught things like this in school!

Other Holiday Cost Breakdowns

The True Cost of Our Family Trip to Canada

How Much Our Family Trip to Valencia Cost

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