4 Australia and New Zealand cities by price: Backpacker Index for 2014

Queenstown ViewHaving been updated for 2014, the biggest news (at the moment) is that the overvalued Australian Dollar came down about 15% last year, bringing costs for travelers down to a more reasonable level. However, the New Zealand Dollar bounced around and ended the same as last year, so as of now both places are similar in price even though Oz had always been more expensive in the past.

The good news is that both countries have a robust infrastructure for budget travelers, with more hostels (called ‘backpackers’ usually) than almost anywhere else in the world. Self-catering will cut costs in both countries since even fast-food restaurants tend to be quite expensive. Camping or going with a group in a campervan is another good way of seeing a lot while spending less money.

How the Backpacker Index works

Prices for most things are fixed and certain, but prices for a “budget lunch” or a pint of beer can vary depending on whom you ask. Still, our estimates are based on a lot of research, and should be very close if not right on.

Costs for each city

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews
  • Two public transportation rides per day
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every city is loaded with free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.)
  • Three “budget” meals per day.
  • Three cheap, local beers each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

Australia & New Zealand Backpacker Index for 2014

1 – Auckland, New Zealand (Cheapest)

Thanks to an incredibly wide range of hostels and budget hotels, Auckland is reasonably priced in general. Most backpackers only stop in the city for a day or two on their way in or out of the country anyway, but still it’s nice that budget options are out there. Fortunately, renting a campervan or taking the backpacker bus to the holiday parks can make visiting these islands quite cheap compared to staying in the cities.

  • Currency: New Zealand dollar
  • Cheap/good hostel: Nomads Auckland Backpackers – 27.48/night
  • Transportation: 3.80
  • Meals: 27.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NZD82.18 – US$69.06/day

>>>Auckland prices and weather

2 – Melbourne, Australia

While hostels might be a bit cheaper in Melbourne than in Sydney, pretty much everything else will be the same price, so there isn’t much between the cities when budgeting. Fortunately, there are plenty of free things to do in both cities, though unfortunately most of the major attractions are fairly expensive in both.

  • Currency: Australian dollar
  • Cheap/good hostel: Flinders Station Backpackers – 25.80/night
  • Transportation: 7.16
  • Meals: 28.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: AUD86.76 – US$78.87/day

>>>Melbourne prices and weather

3 – Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, in the heart of the South Island, is one of the most popular stops in all of New Zealand. If you are coming just to chill out the price is quite reasonable and the surroundings are stunning, but if you are coming to snowboard or bungee jump and so forth, be prepared for astronomical prices for those things in almost all cases.

  • Currency: New Zealand dollar
  • Cheap/good hostel: Absoloot Value Accommodation – 25.76/night
  • Transportation: 7.00
  • Meals: 31.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 17.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NZD95.96 – US$80.64/day

>>>Queenstown prices and weather

4 – Sydney, Australia

All of Australia is fairly expensive, although it’s gotten better as the overvalued Aussie Dollar came down about 15% in 2013. Now Sydney (and Melbourne) costs about the same as mid-tier big cities in Europe and the US. Once you get outside the largest Australian cities the prices go down by a bit, but only by a bit.

  • Currency: Australian dollar
  • Cheap/good hostel: The Original Backpackers Hostel – 27.79/night
  • Transportation: 7.20
  • Meals: 31.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: AUD91.19 – US$82.90/day

>>>Sydney prices and weather

Also check out Backpacker Indexes from the rest of the world



5 Responses to “4 Australia and New Zealand cities by price: Backpacker Index for 2014”

I want to go to ALL of these cities so badly!! I’ve been watching the Australian Open, and Melbourne seems awesome!

 
Arjun says:

In New Zealand, how can we get across cities, or across islands, spending least money? I tried to find different routes on the Rome2Rio website, and each time, flights turn out to be cheapest. Am I missing something there? Does New Zealand have a travel pass similar to EuRail and every European country’s rail pass? That may save some money, so that I can travel to and from Auckland, as against enter at Auckland and leave at Queenstown/Christchurch.

 

    Arjun,

    The cheapest way to get around New Zealand is by bus. There are many companies that run what are known as backpacker buses that go between all the main sightseeing cities, and they also have InterCity Coachlines, which is the main national bus company. There are passes available on the backpacker buses similar to Eurail-style passes.

    The cheapest way to go between islands is by ferry. From the North Island the ferry leaves near Wellington, and goes to a town called Picton on the South Island. If you book early you can get a cheap crossing, and I think you can do that through the backpacker bus companies as well. Good luck with this. -Roger

     
      Arjun says:

      Thank you, Roger. My calculation was based more on the price of a trip between Auckland and Christchurch. Here, flight is cheapest. The idea was an eight-day tour, with four days in either island. Going through these articles you’ve written about cities here, it may be advisable to spend little time in the big cities. I’m looking at getting the best out of both islands, in scenery/wildlife/adventure, at the best price.

      KiwiRailScenic has some interesting train tours, but these may be a bit too expensive as stand-alone purchases. I’d like to know of cost-effective alternatives that serve the same purpose, as well as any schemes where I can get a discount on these routes.

       

        Arjun,

        As much as I loved my own 9-day visit to New Zealand, I don’t really consider myself an expert on the country. If I were you I’d have a look at the New Zealand wikitravel page, which is great for up to date info on all of this.

        But I can definitely re-confirm that the charms of New Zealand are almost all found in the scenery and outdoor attractions, and that Auckland and Christchurch are best used as staging areas for visiting everything else. My original plan was to just stop in Auckland for a few days on my way to Tahiti because I tend to like cities. But I researched and found out that Auckland isn’t really all that special compared to the rest of the country, so I only stayed for 2 days before renting a little motor home for a solo tour of the islands that lasted a week. It was the shoulder season so rental prices were pretty low, and I’m extremely glad I did it. Since you sleep in the thing, and can cook in the thing as well, it’s easy to keep other expenses quite low as you drive around appreciating the scenery and such. If it’s possible, you might even consider something like that yourself.

        Best of luck. -Roger

         

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