Cheap Things to Do in New Zealand for Under NZ$20
Looking for ultra-cheap weekend ideas or travelling the whole of New Zealand on barely a budget? Get your eyes on this list of 20 activities in New Zealand for under $20! We’ve been sure to include something for all ages and interests between wine tastings, wildlife encounters and playing golf. Combine these with the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand and you’re sure to have plenty of dough to spare for the other 101 Things to Do in New Zealand.
Oh, and before you get started with this list of the cheap things to do in New Zealand, bookmark The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget to help plan the rest of your trip.
1. Meet a Kiwi Bird
There’s no excuse not to see New Zealand’s adorable icon when prices for kiwi houses are that cheap! For instance, Kiwi North and the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre in Whangarei are North Island options under NZ$20. You’ll have to fork out a little more to see kiwi birds on the South Island, or just get lucky walking the trails on Stewart Island.
Location: Whangarei, North Island or Stewart Island, South Island. Check out all of the locations in Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand.
2. Go Winery-Hopping in Marlborough
Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine region, famous for its sauvignon blanc. To keep the wine tasting experience under NZ$20, simply appoint a designated driver and enjoy tastings at the wineries for free or very cheap.
Location: Blenheim, South Island. Check out more wine regions in the 9 Best Winery Tours in New Zealand.
3. Check Out Bubbling Mud and Hot Springs at a Geothermal Park
New Zealand is literally a hotbed of activity, especially in the North Island with several geothermal parks – some for under NZ$20! Visit Craters of the Moon in Taupo for a small fee or walk around a free geothermal park, like Kuirau Park in Rotorua the Tokaanu Thermal Walk in Turangi.
Location: Taupo, Rotorua or Turangi, North Island. See more geothermal hotspots in the 8 Best Geothermal Parks in New Zealand.
4. Take the Ferry to the Ulva Island
Like stepping back in time, Ulva Island is a bird sanctuary with parrots in the trees and kiwis on the ground. Take the NZ$20-return ferry from Golden Bay on Stewart Island to the island sanctuary. It’s certainly one of the most humbling yet cheap things to do in New Zealand.
Location: Stewart Island. See more Stewart Island experiences for cheap in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Stewart Island.
5. Relax in Some Hot Pools
Thanks to New Zealand’s many natural mineral hot springs, it’s not too difficult to find an affordable hot pools complex. Hot pools for under NZ$20 include Waikite Valley Thermal Pools in Rotorua, Mount Hot Pools in Tauranga and Tokaanu Thermal Pools in Turangi.
Location: Rotorua, Tauranga and Turangi, North Island. See the locations of hot pools in the 10 Best Hot Pools in New Zealand.
6. Visit the Bird Sanctuary in the City, Zealandia
More affordable wildlife encounters await, even in the heart of Wellington at Zealandia. Visit this eco-sanctuary for under NZ$20 to see native parrots, tui, robins and the colourful flightless takahe.
Location: Wellington, North Island. Plan more of your trip to the capital using the 21 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.
7. Try a Classic Kiwi Pie
A staple of every gas station and bakery in New Zealand, a savoury pie is a must-try. What’s more, you can buy several for NZ$20, certainly making pie-eating one of the worthy cheap things to do in New Zealand. Our favourite pie shops include Fairlie Bakery and Patrick’s Pies in Rotorua.
Location: Fairlie, South Island or Rotorua, North Island. See where to try more traditional New Zealand food here.
8. Check Out Steampunk HQ
Steampunk is a sci-fi genre with Victorian influences, such as steam-powered technology. With that, Oamaru’s Victorian buildings are the ideal venue for Steampunk HQ filled with all sorts of creative inventions. Check it out for under NZ$20!
Location: Oamaru, South Island. Check out more attractions on the cheap in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Oamaru.
9. See a Waterfall, Archeological Sites, Volcanic Formations and More at Washpen Falls
That’s right, hidden at the edge of the Canterbury Plains is the cheap and cheerful outdoor attraction of Washpen Falls. Pick up a point-of-interest guide and follow the walkway to volcanic remnants, Maori archaeological sites, viewpoints, a lagoon with a rowing boat and, of course, a waterfall.
Location: Methven, South Island. Plan more items for the itinerary in the 10 Best Things to Do in Methven.
10. Try Manuka Honey, L&P, Whittaker’s and More
Head to one of the honey centres like Arataki Honey Visitor Centre in Havelock North and the Huka Honey Hive in Taupo for free tastings of New Zealand’s famous superfood, manuka honey. Additionally, try some of the local snacks like the local soft drink, L&P, or the local chocolate bar, Whittaker’s, from any supermarket.
Location: Havelock North or Taupo, North Island. See more food to try in the 25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand.
11. Experience a New Zealand Farm Park
Farming is ingrained in the Kiwi culture, so why not visit a farm park for a cheap thing to do. While many farm parks around the country cost no more than NZ$20, the one we recommend is Bullswool Farm Park (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Paeroa, North Island. See more cheap experiences nearby in the 5 Best Things to Do in Paeroa.
12. Ride the Wellington Cable Car
Travel in style on Wellington’s historic cable car! From the capital’s streets to the top of the beautiful Wellington Botanic Garden, the ride is short but scenic nonetheless. Rides are under NZ$10 and also take you to a free museum. Learn more about the Cable Car Museum in the 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington.
Location: Wellington, North Island. For more activities in the area, see the 21 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.
13. Eat Some Fresh Fish & Chips
It certainly doesn’t cost you more than NZ$20 to sample some of New Zealand’s fresh fish and chips. Head to any coastal town and you’re likely to eat fish caught fresh that day! It’s one of the yummier cheap things to do in New Zealand.
Location: Check out the best places to try fish and chips in Where to Try Traditional New Zealand Food?
14. Meet the Bearded Miners of Reefton
For a gold coin donation, meet the Bearded Miners of Reefton who will show you gold panning, take you on a tour of their shack, or share stories over a cup of tea… It’s not really a well-organised thing, so just show up and see what happens!
Location: Reefton, South Island. Learn more about the experience in the 15 Best Things to Do in Reefton.
15. Cruise Lake Rotorua in a Paddleboat
Not only does Lakeland Queen offer a one-hour sightseeing cruise of Lake Rotorua, but the experience includes a buffet lunch or breakfast for under NZ$20! The replica of a Mississippi River paddleboat takes you to see Sulfur Bay, Kawaha Point and Mokoia Island. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Rotorua, North Island. Add more to the itinerary using the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.
16. Tour a Distillery in Golden Bay
Forget winery and brewery tours; distillery tours are much better value-for-money. Well, at least the Dancing Sands Distillery is in Takaka (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). They offer a tour to learn about the distilling process, as well as tastings.
Location: Takaka, South Island. Plan more activities with the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Takaka.
17. Enjoy the View from the Chairlift of Christchurch Adventure Park
Ride the longest chairlift in New Zealand to soak in the vistas of the Lyttelton Harbour, Christchurch city, the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps. Christchurch Adventure Park offers a number of short walks to make the most of your time there. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Christchurch, South Island. See more experiences like this in the 17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Christchurch.
18. Catch a Comedy Gig
Evening entertainment in New Zealand isn’t too expensive, especially at Auckland comedy gigs like Snort LIVE at the Basement Theatre or Scared Scriptless at The Court Theatre in Christchurch. We also like Raw Meat comedy nights at The Fringe Bar in Wellington.
19. Experience a New Zealand Farmers’ Market
Weekend mornings are best spent browsing the stalls and listening to live entertainment at a New Zealand farmers’ market. While it’s free to go to a farmers’ market, you might be tempted to buy some of the local street food or something, so at least take NZ$20. Popular markets to go to include the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market in Hastings and the Lyttelton Farmers’ Market in Christchurch.
Location: Hastings, North Island or Christchurch, South Island.
20. Try to Pott a Hole-in-One on Lake Taupo
Finally, turn your NZ$20 into $10,000 by potting a hole-in-one at the driving range on Lake Taupo. It’s around NZ$1 per ball or 15 balls for NZ$15 so give it a go with Lake Taupo Hole in 1!
Location: Taupo, North Island. See more things to do before you win $10,000 with the 12 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Taupo.
More Activities Under $20 in New Zealand
That’s it for our cheap things to do in New Zealand for under $20! Need more cheap stuff? Why not check out some cheaper or even free things to do in the following guides?