Money Saving Tips for North Island NZ

Old Feb 5th, 2013, 06:32 AM
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Money Saving Tips for North Island NZ

We are going to be doing a self drive on the North Island and would love to hear some money saving tips. I understand NZ is a bit pricy compared to midwest US standards.
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Old Feb 5th, 2013, 12:34 PM
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I just got back from a 16 day self drive vacation of both islands and I am from the midwest!
The one thing that I loved in NZ as opposed to our hotels in the states is that when you check in on the smaller hotels they give you the internet code and a choice of milk for your "tea". All of the places we stayed were amazing and reasonable with self catering which is nice for making breakfasts to save some money-most of the breakfasts seem to be around 15-18 NZD.
What cities are you staying at on the North Island? We stayed in Auckland,Rotorua,Taupo and Wellington if you need hotel suggestions? If you are going to Rotorua and Taupo and need suggestions for eating or sightseeing-let me know!
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Old Feb 5th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Another option would be staying in hostels. Many have private rooms, and some have ensuite bathrooms if that's important. Check http://www.yha.co.nz and http://www.bbh.co.nz for more information.

Lee Ann
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Old Feb 6th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Duty free,
This is a groupon package so we had no choice of hotels but they are copthorne or kingsgate. We are hitting the same 4 cities you did so any recommendations would be great.
We would have loved to do South Island also but maybe next time. Unfortunately we are still working class stiffs and have limited vacation time and $$$.
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Old Feb 6th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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When are you going and for how long?
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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We arrive 4/4/13 & have 7 nights there... 1 night in Auckland, 2 in Rotorua, 2 in Wellington, 1 in Taupo & back to Auckland for 1 more night. As I said it was a groupon package so not a lot of flexibility.
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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Plan on packing lunches. You could buy a small cooler when you arrive and stock it with drinks, fruit, snacks, sandwich supplies, yogurt, milk, etc. We brought some protein bars with us; with fruit, something to drink, and maybe some chips, we had a quick and convenient lunch as we were hiking or whatever.

Lee Ann
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 06:11 PM
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Are we permitted to bring food into NZ? I know it is restricted in Australia.
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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They are very particular about bringing any type of food in so don't.You can get everything you need down there.Just be prepared for the prices-Sauvignon blanc from Oyster Bay NZ here in Chicago usually runs around $11 but down there its around $24 at the grocery stores. Lunches even for sandwiches usually run between $12 and $20 NZD and dinners are easily $28 upwards to $38 NZD wherever we went and we do cheap!

Our favorite grocery store in NZ was called COUNTDOWN as it had a great veg/fruit section,wine,deli.etc. We found out towards the end of our trip that if you spend over $75 in groceries, you can present your grocery bill with the special code at the bottom of it at several big name gas stations and you get 10 cents off each gallon of gas.

AUCKLAND-go downtown to the harbor area and have lunch along with the park area out to the sailboats. Great views and vibe.One of the largest/famous wineries is right by Auckland Airport called Villa Maria. It is beautifully landscaped and has tours,lunches,etc. although we thought that they were pricey but later realized that that really is the price of food in New Zealand?

ROTORUA-One tip I should give you is that at all the tourist/ISITE spots you can find these JASON'S free tour booklets of each town that has coupons for the town.The one we got for Rotorua sent us to one of the best restaurants called CAPERS.It is a fabulous restaurant with wonderful food and great presentation. The coupon for Capers gives you two entrees plus two glasses of wine for $40 NZD.(Their entrees are usually around $29 each!) The owners also own a famous tavern restaurant in town but Capers is a gem for their food!

I would also recommend going to the Maori thermal pools called Te Puia in Rotorua.It is Maori owned and operated and it is absolutely amazing! Unlike some of the other thermal sites offered in the area, it is authentic and very well run.They do NOT pour soap into a thermal pool hole at 1030am every morning to make it explode as one of the more famous ones does.

My daughter and I didn't know whether we wanted to spend $100 a piece for the Maori" hangi" (the traditional cooked underground) dinner feast at one of the thermal pools in Rotorua. The salesclerk at the Te Puia told us to just buy the day tour plus a show (only $12 more than just the tour) which operates every 2 hours throughout the day.It has the same "dinner dancing" but no dinner and it was only $57- we put our savings on going back to Capers twice that visit for better food!
There is also a free thermal park by the swimming pool center as you drive into Rotorua that is interesting yet small.

TAUPO was beautiful and a great spot for shopping and eating along the main waterfront area.The lake is huge and the volcanoes in the distance make a surreal setting of beauty.
Do drive out of town and go to the OraKei thermal pools that are only reached by boat across the lake-very cool and a different type of geothermal activity that is also run by the Maoris with a very cool cave and walking bridges around the park.
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Old Feb 7th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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Yes and no.

NZ is very strict regarding food, as is Australia, but it's not completely prohibited. You must be very careful what you bring in and be sure to DECLARE everything. Don't be one of those poor travelers who forgets he has an apple in his bag and gets slapped with a $200 fine.

Generally speaking, commercially prepared items are okay - things like cereal bars, cookies, coffee, canned products, etc.

Fresh foods are generally prohibited - fruit, dairy products, eggs, that sandwich left in your bag from the flight, etc.

DECLARE any food. They'll either let it in or take it away, but you're good to go as long as you DECLARE.

More info here:

http://www.newzealandatoz.com/index....e/display/648/
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Old Feb 10th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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Thanks for all of the great tips everyone. We are still seven weeks out so if you have additional tips or recommendations I would love to hear them.
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Old Feb 10th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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BTW... Do you think a GPS is necessary? I am a map person but DH is a GPS junkie.
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Old Feb 10th, 2013, 03:36 PM
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It's very easy to get around NZ with a map. There are only so many roads to begin with. I guess it depends on your personal comfort level, but I personally don't get the whole GPS thing.
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Old Feb 10th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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Assuming you have chosen th echeapest car rental/flights/hotels it comes down to food and activities

Food
If you want to savour local food and atmosphere by all means eat out. If you just want to feed your body fuel go cheap.

Take a thermos/flask some plastic bowls, small plates, cups and knife,fork and spoon. Should take up less space than a shoe box.

If breakfast is not included - make your own. Buy some cereal and milk Or bread and jam peanut butter etc. or Fruit.

If breakfast is include eat as much as you can so you only need a small lunch. Take some extras from breakfast with you (some people of ths forum are VERY against this option.
At least fill up a thermos of boiling water for morning tea.Most places will give youthat much at least.

Lunch
Similar to Breakfast - make it.

Dinner
Many supermarkets will have hot Chickens. Get one and some premade salad (or buy the ingredients). Some will even have roast potatoes etc.Drinks will be cheaper in a supermarket than a food shop.
The bread department will have pizza type rolls. Breads are often on special late in the day.
Buy some meat and have a BBQ - most parks will have free gas or electric BBQs

If your accommodation has cooking facilities make good use of them. My wife baked choc chip biscuits in the oven on a canal boat and that kept us in morning and afternoon tea for a week!
Cook a chicken for sandwiches for the next few days.

Activities.
Look critically at the activity. If it is something you have done before or at least very similar - is it worth doing again, just because it is in New Zealand?

Look for options that don't have things you don't want. Cruises etc often offer lunch or dinner which are often overpriced. Are you better off taking your own or doing the cruise that doesn't offer food/drink. This is where they are making their money.

As said in a previous post - look for discounts and family tickets etc. But again look at those options critically.

Venues with poker/slot machines will often have free or cheap tea and coffee and soft drinks.Sometimes they will have cheap meals/food as well. They want you to stay and gamble. You are clever and will not gamble!

Scrimp on the things that don't matter - luches etc.
Splurge on the things that do.
What will you regret not doing? Eating out or not affording the Helicopter flight?
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Old Feb 10th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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So appreciate all of the suggestions, keep them coming, careful budgeting is what allows us working stiffs to keep on traveling.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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I'm afraid you are going to be shocked at the price of food and groceries in NZ. Even my Kiwi friends are...it's a good opportunity to lose weight!

Cheapest meals are generally fish & chips and sandwiches. If you have a car, the supermarkets are very good and have bulk food items and prepared foods to go. Rotorua has a big Pak N Save and would be a good place to stock up for snacks and meals on the go.

In Auckland you can find relatively inexpensive meals at Asian restaurants in the central business area..the wharf area is expensive.

You can check online and see if any of your hotels have kitchens, but I doubt it.
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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GPS..I agree it isn't necessary. You might go on Google Maps and print out local directions for each hotel, but between cities is easy. Getting out of Auckland, ask your hotel for good directions.

I think the hotels you are in charge internet use fees. This is another thing in NZ that can be a pricey surprise, especially when they are charged on an hourly basis. See if you can give up the internet for a week, or visit a cafe offering free Wi=Fi. There are a few Starbucks around, I think one in Rotorua. Wellington has free wifi around their waterfront. If you don't want to get stuck with roaming, don't use your cellphone. You can buy dial-around calling cards at Dick Smith (one in downtown CBD Auckland on Wyndham).
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Old Feb 12th, 2013, 04:25 PM
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I have already downloaded as many maps to go & information guides that I can find to put on my Ipad.

We usually try to purge ourselves from the 'net when we are gone but will use will free wifi if it is available.

As for phone I have a GSM Quadband that I use for emergencies but try not to make a habit of it.

It sounds like the supermarkets will be are best friend. I am not surprised the pricces are high we found them to be so in the Cook Islands which is why I am asking for all of the advice I can get.
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Old Feb 14th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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We are going to North Island on the Groupon deal as well but extending our stay in South Island for additional 8 days. Those are great tips for saving money from the group here. Neuman506, we will be arriving on 2nd April maybe we will meet on the way since we are doing the same route.

I was also wondering about GPS too and the map of NZ would cost us around $80 US for our TomTom GPS. I wonder if it is worth buying our map and bringing the GPS with us. I see that Melnq8 & mlgb said that it is not necessary. I do have a great "paper" map of NZ but it was dated back to 2001 when we visited the North Island and tour the Northland. I just wonder if this map would be out-of-date?
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Old Feb 14th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Your car rental will probably give you a map, but I might bring the old one as well just in case, it may be a little outdated but I am guessing not much.

If you are an Auto Club member, and can make it to the NZ AA office, you can get a reciprocal membership. They used to give really good paper maps, but most recent visit the maps were not so great. So it wasn't worthwhile last time, since I had better maps from the prior trip(s). But you get other bennies so may be worth it if you are there during open hours, the main office is on 99 Albert downtown Auckland. www.aa.co.nz also has lots of good online information and their trip time calculators are pretty accurate.

When you are at Auckland airport, swing by the big info center which should have lots of guides by AA, Jasons, etc. (They used to be free at the airport, not sure if true these days). Of course carrying all that paper is a pain, but I liked to have an AA guidebook for when I don't have hotels booked and don't have internet on the road. (Sorry Fodors).

BTW do you know that Google Maps street view works in NZ? This can be really handy if you are going somewhere for the first time, it will show you buildings on the street and you will know what to look for, you may even see the sign for you hotel.

www.maps.google.com (search for your hotel by name, click the little man and move him to the street with the locator pin).

I've also used www.wises.co.nz in pre-GPS days.
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