Guest Blog on New Zealand "Bargains"
My peripatetic friend and fellow travel writer Paul Glassman sends the following about his recent travels in New Zealand:
"New Zealand is exotic and scenic and homey and surely one of the places to see before you depart. But oh, the sticker shock! With a currency that attracts unwarranted attention from speculators, visitors can be in for unpleasant surprises as the value of the NZ ollar travels like a yo-yo. On a recent day, eggs cost 40 cents a piece, butter--an export item--was over $7 a pound in local markets, and gasoline came in at over $6 (all figures in US dollars.)
Do your homework, though, and you can bring costs into line.
Stay in motorcamps or older hotels in country towns. "Holiday camps" have a range of accommodation from campsites to motel rooms. A good value are cabins, little private rooms with common bathrooms and showers otuside. Price per night can range from $35 to $45. As a bonus, there are shared kitchens. Even if you don't cook for yourself, these are great places to meet your fellow travelers of all ages. In the center of older towns, similar values can be found in hotels that seem to come straight out of Gunsmoke. There's a sink in the room, and a bathroom down the hall.
Check the Inernet for bus passes with companies like NakedBus.com and MagicBus.co.nz.Conditions can be abstruse, but generally you can hop on and off at national parks and beach towns that are otherwise difficult and expensive to reach by public transport.
For flights, check JetStar.com. In a high-priced landscape, fares can be as low as $50 between Auckland on North Island and Christchurch on South Island.
Compare rental car offers. While Hertz has small cars for over $80 per day, Jucy.co.nz will set you up for as little as $22 daily, with a vehicle that is a few years old.
Restaurant prices seem outrageous, until you consider that tax and service are included. Service workers earn a fair wage, and tipping is considered a strange American habit. And considering high food prices in stores, you'll often find fair value when you eat out.
If you're shopping for your own food, best values are at supermarkets and warehouse stores in urban centers.
Prices for day trips, bicycle rentals cruises and the like are still more than I (and perhaps you) would like to pay, but if you follow these tips, you should keep your costs at a reasonable level. Not to mention that the fjords, glaciers, volcanoes, beaches, wines and flora are priceless."