Is New Zealand Expensive?

April 11, 2018
Do you think it was expensive for me to enjoy this sunset in Opotiki, New Zealand? Nah.




Ya get what ya pay for.


This I learned on circling the globe for 7 years.


New Zealand costs travelers more money compared to most other countries, in terms of lodging, food, tours, etc.


But the higher cost reflects back to you as:


  • the quite possibly most beautiful *and* cleanest country in the world
  • a stable government
  • a nation-wide commitment to preserving the environment; green as can be
  • world class produce
  • world class dairy
  • Western convenience
  • a high standard of living


Those are a few factors.


The chief factor that stands out to me: the stunning beauty, stable government and Western creature comforts are a trio rarely seen anywhere on earth.


Most tropical paradises boasting somewhat similar beauty are found in developing aka 3rd world nations. Developing nations tend to have some issues with:


  • graft
  • corruption
  • pollution
  • poverty


Tourists rarely see the day to day graft or corruption deals but we do see pollution, poverty and some trappings that go with being a developing nation.


Chiang Mai, Thailand is probably my favorite town in the world. I love the place. Kelli and I pay 2 USD for a filling, nutritious, delectable lunch for 2 people, served in a hygienic Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in a Thai neighborhood. I love it!


But as awesome as Thailand is, you can also get thrown into jail for saying something negative about The Crown there. Pollution levels in and around Chiang Mai are among the worst in the world during a 2 month stretch from March to April. Bribery and corruption may not be as endemic as in neighboring Cambodia but the place gives corrupt nations a run for its money.


The cost of living to quality of life in Chiang Mai is ridiculous and I adore the place but I also know; the reason why things are so inexpensive in certain countries and regions is because the nation lacks political stability on some level, commerce is not terribly efficient and such lands tend to be consistent with corruption and absurd justice systems. Factor in many processes and systems being dated due to rampant bureaucracy and again….ya get what you pay for.


New Zealand Is A Bargain


No country is Utopia.


But New Zealand is a bargain.


Imagine a country with a stable government. Good roads. Western convenience. Happy, inviting, generous citizens.


Getting around is a little challenging by bus depending on where you are headed. But flying is cheap and airports are readily available.


This is the prettiest country on earth from what I have seen. Many traveler buddies agree. But you don’t see piles of trash lying around, smog, or stinking, festering canals, as often spotted in tropical paradises. Money, awareness, and general commitment to keeping things brilliant in New Zealand prevents that shit from happening.


When pondering what you get for what you spend, NZ is a bargain.


Think of a New Zealand trip as an investment. The money you spend allows you to land in a country where the funny customs guy chats with you for 10 minutes on a wide range of topics, giving you a wonderful welcome to the place. This compared to some developing nations where you are reminded that drug offenses are punishable by death with big postures in the airport, and customs and immigration officers tend to be a bit gruff and curt.


New Zealand Attracts A Higher Quality Tourist And Expat


It is nice to have chats with fun, prospering tourists and expats in New Zealand.


Sometimes it gets old talking to bitchy expats in Thailand moaning about the country being a nightmare and hostel dirt bags bitching about having to spend 100 Baht a day. The Backpacker Dirt Bag Trail of Tears ends well before the South Pacific and Tasman Sea, guys.


Most budget travelers are awesome folks. A handful travel through New Zealand and love the ride, understanding that you get what you pay for. But a hefty number are not the Western cream of the crop, as Kelli says, and such lower energy folks gravitate to developing nations and avoid this place, based on the higher cost of living.


I haven’t yet encountered anybody complaining about this place being too expensive; refreshing experience being around folks filled with gratitude versus people whining about running out of money.




I love India. I love Myanmar. But I never eat in peace in either place.


Who knows if the server just took a dump and served me my food without washing their hands?


Awareness of sanitation and hygiene are still issues throughout much of those 2 nations. Which is why I bought a whole grocery bag full of fruits and veggies for $2 USD in Kerala. Which is also why I had diarrhea for my entire trips in India and Myanmar.


You get what you pay for.


4 Million People In a Big Country


New Zealand is a big country. Factor in that only 4 million people live here and you have SO MUCH room for yourself. Private beaches. Rides through the country with only a few cars or trucks passing by. Afternoons spent solo at small parks.


New Zealand is not expensive when you consider the big picture.


Think about what you are *getting* compared to what you are *giving*.


I Love Developing Nations


I have spent years in Bali and Thailand. Thailand is first world in many regards.


I love the places too.


See the world. Experience it for yourself. Enjoy places with a low cost of living. You may never leave if Thailand or Bali steals your heart.


But explaining how the cost of living correlates to other issues in such nations helps you frame an “expensive” nation like New Zealand in a different light.


The New Zealand Tourist Authority may thank me too 🙂


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Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph is a blogger, author and world traveler who's been featured on Richard Branson's Virgin Blog, Forbes, Fox News, Entrepreneur, Positively Positive, Life Hack, John Chow Dot Com and Neil Patel Dot Com. He can help you become a full time blogger with this eBook.
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  1. I see – and experience – all those perks Rhonda and even though we spend more money here, the returns on spending more money are so delicious that it makes NZ a bargain in many ways. Neat to know the corruption thing too. Being honest, transparent and truthful is at the core of this. Truth be told the 2 friendliest, happiest, most engaging and most heartfelt customs and immigration guys I ever met in airports; dude in Denmark, and dude here in NZ.

  2. Rhonda Albom Says:

    New Zealand is beautiful, green, and expensive to visit (not that cheap to live in either). We’re pretty isolated so it’s a long plane trip to get here. It has a low population density It is currently tied with Denmark as the least corrupt country in the world. It is generally safe. I think it’s worth the price.

  3. I left a thought.