Travel costs: America vs New Zealand

by | | Post Views 1751 Views

New Zealand and the United States are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Both countries offer their own unique travel experiences that you’ll remember forever. But which is more expensive to travel in? Let’s take a closer look:


New Zealand is known for its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. Some of the best things to do are completely free. The North Island has a huge range of gorgeous beaches, many of which are near each other. There are also several great hikes and walking trails boasting magnificent views, which won’t cost you a thing. The South Island of New Zealand is world-famous for its dramatic landscapes. You can spend days here just driving around and exploring all it has to offer. Participating in tours and adventure sports is where things get pricey.

The U.S also offers plenty of free sightseeing opportunities, but the most popular things to do cost money. In most cases, you’ll be charged an entry fee when visiting national parks, theme parks and historic buildings and landmarks. Attending the theatre, sports games and concerts can also be quite expensive.


New Zealand boasts a wide range of affordable accommodation options for travellers. If you are visiting NZ with kids or family, there are plenty of comfortable holiday homes throughout the North Island and South Island. The cost varies depending on where you stay. For single travellers looking to meet people, staying in a backpacker hostel is the cheapest option. Booking a bed in a dorm ranges from NZ$21-$35 (£10 – £18) per night per person, which is similar to US prices.

Motels and budget hotels are other cheaper alternatives. However, in the U.S, tipping is also required for hotel maids, airport and hotel porters, and valet parking attendants. These extra costs can add up to a more expensive stay.

Photo Sharynnz

Eating Out

Eating out in New Zealand isn’t expensive once you seek out the right spots. There are tonnes of cheap eats around that offer great value for money.  The main course in a budget restaurant will generally cost you less than NZ$15 (£8.00). The main course in a mid range restaurant may cost between NZ$15–32 (£8 – £17). These prices aren’t too different from American prices.

The greatest thing about eating out in NZ is that tipping is not expected. The total amount of your meal is all that you are required to pay. In contrast, a 10-20% tip is standard in American restaurants. This makes eating out in the U.S a bit more pricey.


New Zealand is a much smaller country than the U.S, so it is quicker and easier to travel around. With less driving time, you can spend less money on gas and still see lots of sights. There are many companies that offer cheap deals on car rentals. But if you don’t want to pay for a car, NZ has a great public transport system. Taking the bus is the cheapest and most convenient option. With a hop-card, you can get discounted fares or buy a special pass.

Travelling around the United States via public transport is a little more tricky, except in large cities. Public transport, while very cheap, is relatively limited in the outer towns and suburbs. Taxis are metered, and drivers will often charge extra for waiting or handling luggage. Passengers are again expected to tip 10% to 15%.

Travelling around America is generally more expensive than New Zealand, especially with the added costs. But it all depends on what you do. If you spend less time eating out and are selective with what activities you do, you can save some money.

Photo tomlefroy


This is where New Zealand really comes in to it’s own. As we see above the day to day costs in New Zealand are similar to America but if you look at how much currency you get for your pound then at today’s rate you would get around US$900 for £750 but for the same amount a whopping NZ$1380, that’s around 50% more NZ bucks for your pound! That makes New Zealand a clear winner in terms of travel costs.

Posted by Maia Fletcher

Freelance writer Maia Fletcher is based in the sunny city of Gisborne, from the North Island of New Zealand. When Maia isn’t collaborating with various blogs and sites, she loves to spend her time off travelling. To learn more about Maia and her work, visit her Tumblr page.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.