New Zealand has 15 official cities in order of population: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Nelson, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Whangarei, Invercargill, Wanganui and Gisborne.
The rest of the dots on your map are towns, townships, settlements, villages… whatever you want to call them. Because many backpackers in New Zealand decide to settle in a city during their gap year we thought it would be a good idea to class the 10 biggest cities of New Zealand by cost of living so you know what you are in for when budgeting for that awesome road trip. We have added Queenstown as it is on every itinerary.
The rankings below were made using data from government agencies as well as a price-watch organisation to bring you a fair “cost of living” ranking.
With cheap rent, entertainment and food, Rotorua easily tops this list. Roto-Vegas, as it is known by locals, provides endless opportunities for adrenaline junkies and nature-lovers alike without the price tags of the big cities. There are also heaps of job opportunities in the greater Rotorua area making it the top choice for a lengthier stop for savvy backpackers.
New Zealand’s high-end wine country is surprisingly cheap to live in. All cost of life indicators are pointing down, making Napier/Hastings a serious contender for a cheap lifestyle. Hawke’s Bay is already a backpacker magnet around the end of summer where picking jobs are plentiful. The cheap cost of life is just a bonus.