Surviving On a Budget: NZ Style
Every living thing needs food, water and shelter to survive. But you’ll be hard pressed to find those essentials for free in this capitalistic world we live in. Don’t worry though, there’s a reason I got nicknamed “Frugal Floerke” in college, and that’s because I know how to get those essentials without breaking the bank. So if you’re looking to save some money in New Zealand while still being able to enjoy tons of activities AND support the local economy, keep on reading.
I know this seems too good to be true. Sustenance for free?! There’s something Aladdin WISHES he had, but it’s totally true. Unlike money, fruit DOES grow on trees. If you’re in the right place at the right time, that could mean free fruit for you!
Some orchards have seconds bins where they give away the fruit that wasn’t the right shape or size for the market. You have to pick through the bruised ones, but sometimes you find real gems. Like two apricots stuck together! It still counts as one, right?
There are also active foraging communities around New Zealand who have created public resources for those on the hunt for foods. Many cities have planted fruit trees in public parks, with the fruit up for grabs. Or take Christchurch for example: After a major earthquake, parts of the city were deemed uninhabitable, and residents were forced to abandon their homes. Their fruit trees are still fine and happy however, and that fruit is ripe for the taking. Go for a walk and see if you can find anything good! Here are some local resources to get you started.
** Parts of the red-zone are starting to be reopened, so make sure you aren’t eating someone’s prized figs!**
You could also get a job at an orchard or fruit packing place. If you do well and your boss likes you, they might even let you take some food home with you as a “thanks for all the back breaking labor you do.”
If you are paying for drinking water these days, then you better live in a place where the tap is shooting out giardia. Bottled water is expensive and unnecessary considering that in New Zealand you can drink any water straight from the stream as long as it isn’t downstream of a farm. Besides, plastics, especially of the single-use variety, are killing our planet like a plague which is a whole separate issue. I could write an article guiding you to every drinking fountain in NZ, but they are so plentiful that it would be a waste of your time. However, water is needed for more than just drinking while you’re traveling. Talk to anybody’s mother and they’ll say that bathing in it is necessary too.
Luckily New Zealand has got you covered there as well. If you find yourself in a beach town on a warm and sunny day, then look for a surfer shower. Sure they may be a little cold, but they’re free and you get what you pay for. If it is a warm enough day, that shouldn’t matter anyway. Just remember that you’re in public, and in New Zealand a swim suit is appreciated. I know nudity is chill in most European countries, but it is quite frowned upon here. Believe me, I’d know.
Free rent?? Surely that’s impossible! Once you hit 18, those dreams go out the window along with laundry that does itself and a refrigerator that is constantly stocked. But believe it or not, there are ways to live for free in NZ, and I’m not just talking about that cardboard box down by the river either. There are so many, we had to write a whole other article on it. Check it out Here
We live in an age where some people might argue that Wi-Fi is as necessary to life as food, water or shelter. But much like those, it can be a resource that comes with a price tag. Most hotels/hostels will have Wi-Fi if you book a room with them. But what if you’re out and need to double check the weather or directions? Data is inexpensive and easy to come by in New Zealand, but not always practical, so here are a few places that will always have Wi-Fi, even if it’s just for a little bit.
Libraries are New Zealand’s best and most reliable Wi-Fi resource. They usually have charging ports as well if you’re in a pinch. Just remember to be a courteous library goer. In addition to using your inside voices, be aware to not take too much space away from the locals who like to use these resources as well. Always be polite and put things back the way you found them.
There are also businesses that give Wi-Fi while you shop in them. The Warehouse and New World grocery stores are great examples. Don’t expect to hole up in the cookie aisle and binge watch a show or anything, as you are usually allotted a very limited amount of data. It IS good enough, though, to #tag yourself there to make all your mates jealous.
McDonalds, KFC, Burger King etc. are all big chains that generally have good Wi-Fi as well. As a courteous guest, you should buy something before making yourself at home in a corner and using it. But if you’re going to be buying food anyways, you may as well use the Wi-Fi while you’re at it.
If you know you’ll be doing a lot of driving or grocery shopping around New Zealand, then it is absolutely a good idea to get a discount card with them. The AA Smartfuel card saves you 6 – 10 cents off every time you spend $40 on fuel at BP or Caltex. It doubles as a Countdown loyalty card, so you save additional cents off in fuel whenever you spend $100 or more. Pak ‘n’ Save and New World also have discount cards for their own stores, and will occasionally give you gas savings at specific retailers.
Why pay full price for something if they are offering it for less to those who do some research? These websites are fantastic ways to get a meal or activity for almost half of what everyone else is paying.
Free things to do:
Bored but don’t want to spend any money on doing things? Then culture yo’self! Many museums around NZ are free and can be amazing ways to spend a few hours to a few days. The Te Papa Museum in Wellington is particularly impressive, and absolutely worth a visit. Each large city has its own museums and art galleries, so check them out and learn something you didn’t know before.
Hiking is also a free activity. New Zealand proudly has thousands of trails to choose from, each one more beautiful than the next. Go for a few minutes, or for a few days. NZ even has free huts to stay in if you don’t mind something basic. They all have a roof and mats, some, like Double Hut in Ashburton Lakes, even come with water and a fireplace. Get outside and enjoy some free accommodation at the same time.
So the next time someone says it’s hard to save money, show them this article and teach them something new. No one should have to miss out on awesome experiences because they don’t have the funds to do them.