New Zealand on a Budget: Seven of the Best Things to Do for Under $50

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New Zealand has never been a cheap place to travel and, as the Covid-induced cost of living crisis continues, even a short domestic break may seem like a crazy idea.

We live in a small, country-sized natural playground with our mountains, beaches, waterways and vast expanses of wilderness, but sometimes you want to treat yourself or the whānau to something a little special.

With that in mind, we’ve selected five of the best cheap attractions you can find on these beautiful islands. None will cost you more than $50 per person, and you’ll get change for a $20 bill for a few.

Dive into a secret hot spring

They might look a little basic, but when you’re relaxing in a pool of warm, mineral-rich water amidst 364 hectares of native bush, who cares? Especially when you’re only paying $14 for the experience.

READ MORE:
* An adult-only getaway hidden in a valley of caves and the other secrets of Waitomo
* Healing hot pools and where to find them
* What to do on a long weekend in and around Christchurch

A bath at Mōrere Hot Springs will cost you just $14.

Brook Sabin / Stuff

A bath at Mōrere Hot Springs will cost you just $14.

About an hour from Gisborne and two hours from Napier, Mōrere Hot Springs lacks the facilities like Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa and Hanmer Springs, but might be even more appealing to those looking for a quieter experience.

A rare example of natural saltwater hot springs, the pools of Mōrere are filled with seawater that emerges from a fractured fault and have long been revered for their healing properties. A 10-minute bush walk leads to Nīkau Pools, the site’s star attraction, and private pools are also available.

While you can pay over $100 for a private spa experience elsewhere, here you’ll only hand over $14. Although this place is so off the beaten path, you could afford one of the main pools.

Burger Afloat is a quintessential destination restaurant.

BROOK SABIN / Stuff

Burger Afloat is a quintessential destination restaurant.

Eat at an award-winning floating burger bar

Dancing on the blue-green Clutha River, Burger Afloat is New Zealand’s only true burger restaurant.

Halfway along the Dunstan Lake Trail, which winds its way through the golden cliffs of Cromwell’s Gorge between Cromwell and Clyde, it takes hours to get there on foot or by bike. But once you’ve taken a bite out of his signature $20 creation – a large wild venison patty sandwiched between two brioche buns with barbecue-smoked bacon, pinot noir-marinated onions, apricot relish and Swiss cheese – you will have no doubt that it was worth it. sweaty armpits and sore thighs. You shouldn’t miss it either if you have special dietary requirements – vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.

Other dishes to enjoy while savoring the iconic views of Central Otago include a fat bacon butt with green tomato chutney and mayo, and a Belgian-style waffle with chocolate, berries or maple syrup and whipped cream.

You'll get more chocolate than probably advised in a day when visiting the Wellington Chocolate Factory.

Provided

You’ll get more chocolate than probably advised in a day when visiting the Wellington Chocolate Factory.

Do like Charlie at the chocolate factory

Generous free samples are a major draw on the $30 tours of the art of chocolate making at the Wellington Chocolate Factory.

During a 2020 visit to the Certified Organic Artisan Chocolate Factory, Stuff senior travel journalist Siobhan Downes was treated to super thick hot chocolate, cocoa nibs, a dollop of coffee-enriched milk chocolate and chocolate chip cookies before we even got to the main tasting session. And there she was encouraged to help herself to as many good brown sugary things as she could swallow.

You’ll learn about the life cycle of chocolate, from the cocoa plantations of Peru, the Dominican Republic, and the Cook Islands to the colorful bars that line the confectionery shelves of your local chocolate supplier. And play Willy Wonka by submitting some of your own flavor ideas.

Seeing the geothermal area lit up at night is an otherworldly experience.

Brook Sabin / Stuff

Seeing the geothermal area lit up at night is an otherworldly experience.

Walk to the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere

Walk through a magically lit geothermal wonderland to see a geyser that never fails to put on a good show.

The Geyser by Night tour at Rotorua’s iconic attraction, Te Puia, begins with a karakia to bless the evening and ends at the largest geyser south of the equator.

Along the way, you’ll hear about the site’s more than 200,000 years of history, explore steaming geothermal fields, and taste steamed pudding straight out of a hot pool.

Adults pay $50 for the ride and children $25. Family passes are available for $119.

Swap the skis for sleds and you can have fun in the snow at an affordable price.

Provided / Stuff

Swap the skis for sleds and you can have fun in the snow at an affordable price.

Play in the snow at Mount Ruapehu

You don’t have to shell out expensive lift passes to enjoy some snow weather at Mt Ruapehu.

You can get a one-hour sledding pass in Whakapapa’s Happy Valley and Turoa’s Yeti Sliding Area for $29 per adult and $15 per child, including sled rental.

If that breaks the bank, head to nearby Mead’s Wall, a short walk from the bottom of the Rangatira chairlift and a popular spot for sledding and snowman building when it was blessed by the gods of the snow.

Haast's Eagle by Chinese artist Dal East.

Pamela Wade / Stuff

Haast’s Eagle by Chinese artist Dal East.

Take a self-guided street art tour of Dunedin

There’s a lot more to Dunedin’s street art scene than Ed Sheeran’s infamous mural.

Grab a free map from the visitor center in the octagon and follow it down indescribable side streets to find over 30 murals by artists from as far away as Belgium, Argentina, Italy, Poland and South Africa, as well as New Zealand.

The Haast eagle by Chinese artist Dal East and a lovely depiction of a young love by Polish Natalia Rak are among the highlights.

While there, you take a tour of the revamped Heritage District, and the Otago Museum, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and Chinese Garden are just steps away.

Stewart Island kiwifruit are commonly found on the island of Ulva.

Provided

Stewart Island kiwifruit are commonly found on the island of Ulva.

Take the ferry to an island teeming with wildlife

Twenty bucks isn’t bad for a trip abroad, and you’ll truly feel like you’ve landed somewhere exotic on the 267-hectare wildlife haunt that is the island of Ulva. .

Located in Paterson Inlet on Stewart Island, about a five-minute boat ride from Golden Bay, Ulva Island is one of the best places to spot a kiwi in the wild. The Stewart Island Brown Kiwi is often outside during the day, so your chances are pretty good. And if you’re unlucky, resident fur seals, sea lions, and native birds such as kaka, weka, saddles, and kakariki won’t disappoint.

A round-trip ferry crossing costs $20 per adult and $10 per child.

What are your favorite cheap attractions in New Zealand? Let us know in the comments.

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