22 Ways to Slash Your Cost of Living in New Zealand

Shock and Awe

New arrivals who haven’t done their homework have sometimes expressed shock at the prices they’ve seen in New Zealand’s stores and supermarkets. (If you could become one of these newcomers, remember that the ENZ forum is a great place to find out anything you’re not sure about.)

shopping grief
People have experienced grief discovering the prices of some goods in New Zealand

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a few people have been horrified by the prices they’ve seen.

Others have been horrified that anyone could be horrified. There’s no excuse for not doing your homework.

Prices are available online for cars, furniture, home appliances, electronic goods, etc – and you can also check ENZ’s compilation of supermarket prices here.

People who have lived here longer look at the prices they see quoted online – and smile knowingly, because they’ve become street-smart and have found ways to slash their expenses.

Here’s a handy list of money-saving ideas to help speed you on your way. Read it, bookmark it, and come back to it.

Members of the ENZ forum share their best money saving tips.

1) Shop around! – for example we recently had our WOF [warrant of fitness – a statutory safety check every six months] done on our car (with a voucher of course) and the garage (main dealer for our make of car) said we needed a shocking amount of work done. We didn’t really believe them as 6 months earlier they had done a similar huge amount and charged us a hefty figure. So we went to VTNZ in Wellington to get the WOF done, and to our surprise we didn’t need the things the dealer said we need to pass the WOF and so we saved $2000. Needless to say we are not going back to the main dealer and will get the WOF done at VTNZ. – girlwithanewf

2) DO NOT…I repeat DO NOT buy anything unless it’s on sale (I’m talking goods from Briscoes, The Warehouse, etc.) Anything you want to buy there will most definitely go on sale. Here things are insanely expensive and your jaw drops at the prices…well just remember that likely it will go at least 50% off in the next few weeks. This includes everything from linen to toys to coffee machines. You will probably save at least 50% if you can hold out for a sale. – sharkalopodous

3) We’ve also learned that on some items – it makes no sense to buy “full price” when most stores here rotate their sales quite quickly. There’s decent competition among the retailers. While we’ve observed some stores list higher prices…just keep looking around. It’s good to do price comparisons and have patience, as the sales will roll around… – KiwiDiva

50% Off

4) Understand that it’s OK to haggle on bigger ticket items (say, $100 or more). This struck us as strange at first but now we would never consider paying full sticker price for things like furniture, appliances, etc. If your business is important enough, even mortage and term deposit rates are negotiable. – Bozeman

5) And ALWAYS haggle, even in an upmarket shop, even if something is already on sale. ‘Is that your best price?’ will very often get you more money off. – JandM

6) If you’re looking for fresh produce keep an eye on the car boots at the side of the road! You’ll often find people selling their surplus there. – Mamee & Co

7) We buy all fruit and veg separately from a fruit and veggie shop, which is much cheaper. – Sam B

8) Stock up when things are reduced in the supermarket, you can often save quite a lot. – girlwithanewf

9) I also make everything from scratch including sourdough bread, I preserve, make sausages and pâtés, go to the veggie market and have a veggie patch. I do it more because I like to know what I’m eating (and I like cooking) than for the money saving aspect but it’s certainly a bonus. – miep

A sliced apple

10) Check to see you are getting the best deal on power. – powerswitch.co.nzDave in NZ

11) Checking pricespy.co.nz a 100 times and other such sites before buying any electronics items. – fivezero7

12) I never pay full price at the hairdressers – either get special offers from GrabOne or direct from the hairdresser via their email list. – girlwithanewf

13) Be careful on trademe.co.nz…. sometimes you find deals but more often than not I find people trying to sell things for almost as much as it costs new… most times I can find the item on sale somewhere new for cheaper than people are selling it used. – sharkalopodous

14) Join a Toy Library. This is the greatest thing ever. Our toy library cost us $70/year to join and most toys are free to take out with the bigger toys costing $2/fortnight. If you have kids you will love the toy library and so will they (especially the 5 and 1 yr old). It will save you money but I like it more because the kids get whatever toy they want and you don’t have to collect the piles of “toy junk” that adds up over the years. – sharkalopodous

You can hire a campervan for $5 a day – this works when you take it in the opposite direction from the one most tourists follow. You’re acting as an unpaid delivery driver, delivering the van back to where the hire company needs it – it’s win-win for you and the hire company.

15) Get a car or camper van from Queenstown to Christchurch from $5 a day, then another from Christchurch to Auckland with the ferry charge paid for you, but you have to do it within a certain amount of days. Good luck. – Gran

16) Go to movies on Tuesdays (to avail the discount tickets) instead of seeing the weekend show which is usually costly. – fivezero7

17) Flybuys card from New World and various other places – worth collecting the points. I got a very nice free blender with mine which is great for making smoothies with all that seasonal fruit. – girlwithanewf

18) Buy an Entertainment Book for lots of money saving offers (although then you do end up going out more because you get one main course free etc). – girlwithanewf

19) Check out the community newsletters in your suburbs because they will list all the various activities in the area which include family events like fun fairs, kids theme events. They are free and great fun because it usually includes story-telling sessions, performances, kids constume activities, make-up and toys, play areas for kids. – batgirl1001

20) [Books are expensive in NZ.] I have a Kindle which is registered in the UK and tend to buy books for 99p to £4. It also saves on storage space. – Kea

21) Regularly checking tyre pressures in your cars as believe me having the correct tyre pressure improves your mileage considerably. I was surprised how my mileage improved. – Dave in NZ

22) School fairs are good places to buy second hand books, toys, clothes, plants etc. – girlwithanewf

Do you have other great ways to cut the cost of living in New Zealand? Please share them below.

8 thoughts on “22 Ways to Slash Your Cost of Living in New Zealand”

  1. So many great ideas here.
    Entertainment/ leisure…
    Lilliput libraries (free help yourself/ swap library boxes are plentiful around our way (Dunedin area) and library membership is usually free.
    Check out town events on Fb or website. These are ideal for local content. If you are looking for items, Google (your town) then “stuff for free”. Very often there are items which just need a simple fix or someone to pick it up and take it away- so if you have a means of doing this, you are good to go.
    Lots of walks around- again let your council info help you.
    coffee groups and interest groups often meet- and if you don’t see something you are interested in- start one! Your local community hub or library may have a meeting room- or you could simply meet at a local cafe.
    Volunteering is huge in NZ! (animal care) SPCA, cat refuge, or simply asking to take your neighbour’s dog for a walk makes you party central. Plants and gardening, community gardens, planting native plants, clearing and maintaining tracks and waterways are all a great way to meet new people, as is joining a choir or theatre group. Rest home visiting, foodbank support, sports and craft or cooking groups are a great opportunity to get to know people too.
    Dunedin is a Polytech and university town and students need someone to practice their new found skills; think hair cuts, massages, dental work etc. You will probably need to pay something, but much less than you would normally.
    Barter/ swap- gardening for haircuts, cooking for language lessons? Computer skills for music lessons?
    Above all, enjoy life! Spend time, not money!

  2. Hi l Great website!
    A UK boy (45)!
    I live in Ireland now after meeting my lovely Irish wife while travelling OZ/NZ
    When backpacked in New Zealand a few years ago.
    I thought the information boards in the YHA hostels was awesome for really really cheap cars people were trying to off-load quickly before they flew back home. Also South Island (Queenstown /Etc) residents buy cars online at Auckland Car Auctions and advertise on the info’ boards to drive them down! Free transport!
    6 -8 days usually. I met people on the way hitchhiking so much fun and adventure!
    Keep up the great work in a Fabulous country xx

  3. Re The article on driving Campervans back for the rental company. I think the person has to pay for coming back over the strait from south to north island and they have to book the ferry. This needs to be verified.

  4. As another suggestion – the SaveMart stores in New Zealand are excellent. They sell “recycled” clothing and a few other things (bags, some shoes, etc). The quality of the clothes is usually excellent, you just have to look out for the odd stain/hole, generally these are clothes that have barely been worn. And it’s at a *fraction* of the price of new clothes.

    Also can pick up international clothes – better quality than New Zealand store clothing (or so I’ve heard), many immigrants coming across with their big wardrobes 🙂

  5. I agree with the above, being a frequent visitor to NZ from Australia. We have also found that there are community markets on every weekend somewhere, usually quite close by. They are great places to get bargains in recycled clothing, books & small housewares. They are also great for Upcycled clothing & furniture. Fresh vegetables & often venison, seafood, pork & small goods are generally reasonable, often a lot cheaper than it stores, certainly fresher.
    We also have found many ‘honesty box’ road side stores for surplus fresh food, honey & preserves.

  6. Thank you, thank you! We are an active, fairly comfortable retired couple looking to escape the insanity of U.S.A. living. We’ve visited a few S. American places and beautiful Belize, but haven’t yet found a “fit.” We’re anxious to make that flight from the U.S. to NZ (yikes, what a flight) to check out the country. From what I’ve been reading, it will probably go to the top of the list of possible new homes. I appreciate this page and all the forums. BTW – very interested in “rebuilding” lovely Christchurch and also interested in the comments about Hawkes Bay. Cheers!

  7. I just want to say, “I LOVE AND APPRECIATE” your website. I just happened to stumble on it by “binging” it. My move is planned for February 2014 so your information has been very valuable in considering weekly cost, etc. Thanks again. Keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *