New Zealand has a wide range of places to stay, from free camping areas right up to luxury hotels, and the cost of your trip will vary greatly depending on how many comforts you desire.
For everything except campsites, you’d be wise to book ahead in January and February, when local and foreign tourists descend on New Zealand. The Christmas and Easter holidays are also busy times but during the rest of the year it shouldn’t be a problem to just roll up and see what’s available. Space for a tent is generally easily found, even in high season.
Camping is by far the cheapest option. Sometimes you can stay for free at government or municipally run campsites and even at the fanciest places you’re unlikely to pay more than NZ$20 a person.
Beds in backpacker dorms or hostels are the next most economical option, running around NZ$15-25 a night. You’ll find this kind of accommodation in the cities and at a surprising number of rural locations. Anyone from a farmer to a pub owner might have a few beds for rent.
For a private room, homestays and farmstays are among the cheapest option when there’s no hostel nearby. They’re often signed by the roadside. You’ll usually stay in the same home as the owners, join them for breakfast and on a farm you might even get to see how you do at milking the cows. Expect to pay from NZ$80 upwards, including breakfast, and have cash on hand to settle the bill.
Bed and Breakfast accommodation starts at a similar price (the cheapest spots often call themselves ‘guesthouses’) and can easily rise to NZ$150-200 at the fancier end of the scale. The more you pay, the more likely you are to be staying in a heritage home with a mouth-watering breakfast banquet laid out on the table the next morning.
Motel rooms are another option in a similar price bracket. For about NZ$100 you’ll get a room with a comfortable bed, cable TV, a bathroom and usually facilities for making tea and cooking.