{going solo in NZ} my itinerary & budget for solo exploring 6 cities in 30 days: Auck, Wellie, Picton, Kaikoura, Chch & Queenstown

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going solo in NZ: Itinerary | Auckland | Wellington | Picton & Kaikoura | Christchurch | Queenstown | quirks & perks of solo travelling |

2022’s been a year of firsts – I resigned from my first job and went on my very first solo trip, spending 30 days slowly exploring New Zealand (albeit in winter). You may ask, why NZ of all places?

I’ve always held a fascination for New Zealand, a country known for its rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains, that I’d only ever watched in movies growing up (especially the Narnia & LOTR movies) but never had the chance to visit.

I’d been waiting for their borders to open for well over a year, and once they made the announcement in mid-2022, I booked my plane tickets and began planning for this trip. I chose to go during winter, a welcome respite from Singapore’s eternal sweltering summer. After all, there’s no place better than the land of sheep, hobbits and boundless natural beauty to clear my head and rejuvenate.

If you’re a fellow solo female traveller, and want to experience the joys of solo travelling in a safe yet vast & beautiful country, NZ is a pretty good place to start. Read on to find out how I planned my itinerary and spent 5 weeks exploring the most stunning country I’ve ever visited!

This is first and foremost a trip diary, with many seemingly insignificant details to help jog my memory many years down the road (but I reckon I’d have had even bigger adventures by then).

Pre-trip planning + Discounted Booking via Klook

I used Klook to book our activities and logistics for this trip, since Klook offers great prices and significant discounts compared to other sites. For ease of planning & comparing prices, I’ve linked all my Klook bookings below:

Remember to use my referral link to sign up for a Klook account for $5 off your first purchase!

Overall cost of this trip + how I stuck to my $50/day budget

All in, my trip (40 days in both NZ and Sydney) cost under $10k! Here’s an approximate cost breakdown for my trip; all prices are in SGD, which is stronger than the NZD (saving me a fair bit of money):

  • Transport
    • Singapore ✈️Auckland: $2500 (SIA Premium Economy; Economy was ~$1.9k)
    • Auckland ✈️ Wellington: $125 (AirNZ, inclusive of checked baggage)
    • Wellington ⛴️ Picton: $65 (Interislander Ferry)
    • Picton 🚌 Kaikoura: $41 (Intercity bus)
    • Kaikoura 🚗 Christchurch: gas money for my friend
    • Christchurch ✈️ Queenstown: $137 (AirNZ, inclusive of checked baggage)
    • Queenstown ✈️ Sydney: $280 (stopped over for a family vacation)
    • Sydney ✈️ Singapore: $740

I bought my plane tickets when prices were still fairly high (due to high demand) and had many one-way flights (more expensive than return tickets), so the prices were a wee bit steep.

  • Accommodations
    • $3110 for 30 nights in Airbnbs/aparthotels/motels, ~$105-110/night (cost would have been almost halved if I hadn’t been a solo traveller)
  • Insurance: $230 (1 insurance plan for NZ+Aus)
  • NZeTA + International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL): $39
  • Pre-booked activities: $520 (including the Klook bookings above, a llama trek & ski lessons+equipment rental)

After seeing the eye-watering costs of the accommodations, plane tickets & pre-booked activities – not to mention my limited suitcase space – I planned to stick to an average budget of ~SGD$50/day, inclusive of food/drinks/shopping/entertainment.

Surprisingly, I managed to stick to this low budget, with the bulk of my daily expenses going towards eating lunch out daily for $15-20/meal & groceries (to make my own breakfast & dinner), with wiggle room for occasional shopping (but nothing too expensive).

I used Spendee, a free phone app that I’ve been religiously using ever since I started drawing a salary, that allows me to log every purchase and keep a tight watch over my spending. It was especially handy during this trip, since it autosaves the currency & exchange rate you’re spending in and converts the numbers to your home currency. (no this isn’t an ad, I just love the app)

Auckland Itinerary (13-19 Jul)
Day 1 (Wed)SG✈️AKL
🏨 Check in @ The Quadrant Hotel & Suites
🌅 Exploring University of Auckland & Emily Place
🍽️ Xi’An Food Bar (Chinese)
Day 2 (Thu)🥾⛰️ Morning hike up Auckland Domain
🌿 Domain Wintergardens
🏛️ Auckland War Memorial Museum
🏛️ Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
👾 Odyssey Sensory Maze
🌭 Mighty Hotdog (Korean)
🍽️ Canto Canto @ Westfield Newmarket (Chinese)
Day 3 (Fri)🥾⛰️ Mt Eden hike
📚🍰☕ Chapter Book & Tea Shop + exploring Mount Eden Road
🥾⛰️ One Tree Hill hike
🍽️ Udon Works @ Dominion Road (Japanese)
🎤 Karaoke Coin Singing Booth @ CBD
Day 4 (Sat)🐟 SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
🍽️ The Seafood Collective (Western)
🍨 Kapiti Ice Cream
🏖️ Mission Bay Beach
🛍️ Auckland CBD
🍽️ Xi’An Food Bar (Chinese)
Day 5 (Sun)🛍️ Central Flea Market, every 2nd Sunday of the month
🛍️ Junk & Disorderly antique store
🍽️ Spicy House @ Dominion Road (Chinese)
🛍️ Auckland CBD
🌄⛰️ Maungauika/North Head Reserve
🍽️ The White Lady (American)
Day 6 (Mon)🥾 Exploring the CBD harbour – Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, Silo Park
🍽️ Daruma Ramen (Japanese)
⛴️ Exploring Devonport – Auckland suburb, 12 min ferry from CBD
🍽️ The Don (Japanese)
Day 7 (Tue)AKL✈️WLG
Wellington Itinerary (19-28 Jul)
Day 1 (Tue)AKL✈️WLG
🏨 Check in @ 101 The Terrace (Airbnb)
Day 2 (Wed)🏛️ Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
🍽️ Mama Brown (American)
Day 3 (Thu)🛍️ Thrift shopping @ Cuba Street
🍽️ Satay Palace (Malaysian)
🏛️ NZ Parliament tour
Day 4 (Fri)🧝🏻‍♂️ WETA Workshop Tour (2-way transport included)
🍽️ Hey Ramen (Japanese)
🛍️ Willis Street
Day 5 (Sat)🚋 Wellington Cable Car
🌳 Wellington Botanic Gardens
🏛️💫🔭 Space Place at Carter Observatory
🍽️ Fisherman’s Plate Seafood (Vietnamese)
Day 6 (Sun)🍫 Wellington Chocolate Factory
🛍️ Cuba Street
Day 7 (Mon)🌳 Wellington Zoo
Day 8 (Tue)🏛️ The New Zealand Portrait Gallery
🏛️ Wellington Museum
🛍️ Courtenay Place, Cuba Street
🍽️ Satay Palace (Malaysian)
⛰️ Mt Victoria
🍵 Evil Twins Coffee
🍽️ SatayMe (Vietnamese)
Day 9 (Wed)🪦 Bolton Street Cemetery
🏛️ City Gallery Wellington
🍰 Sixes And Sevens
Day 10 (Thu)⛴️ Interislander Ferry from Wellington (North Island) to Picton (South Island)
Picton/Kaikoura Itinerary (28 Jul-1 Aug)
Day 1 (Thu)⛴️ Interislander Ferry from Wellington
🍽️ Toasties (American)
🛍️ High Street
🍽️ Shai Shai’s Takeaways (Seafood)
Day 2 (Fri)🍽️ Picton Pizza And Kebabs (Western)
🚌 Intercity bus to Kaikoura
🍽️ Cods & Crayfish (Seafood)
Day 3 (Sat)🏖️ Kaikoura Beach
🦙 Half-day Guided Llama Trek
🍽️ Country Fried Chicken (Western)
Day 4 (Sun)🏛️ Kaikoura Museum
🍽️ Chiwis Cafe (Western)
🛍️ West End Street
🍽️ Cods & Crayfish (Seafood)
🍰 Kaikoura Bakery
Day 5 (Mon)🍽️ Coopers Catch (Seafood)
🪨🦭 Ohau Point Lookout
🍨 The DAIRY – Kaikoura
🚗 2.5h roadtrip to Christchurch
Christchurch Itinerary (1-6 Aug)
Day 1 (Mon)🚗 Arrived from Kaikoura
🏨 Check in @ 282 Madras Street (Airbnb)
🍽️ Ramen Ria (Japanese/Fusion)
Day 2 (Tue)🌳 Christchurch Botanic Gardens
🍽️ Zen Sushi & Dumplings (Japanese)
🏛️ Canterbury Museum
🍫 The Fudge Cottage
🏛️ Christchurch Art Gallery
🛍️ Thrift shopping @ Lincoln Road
🍽️ AFG Afghan Restaurant (Middle-Eastern)
Day 3 (Wed)🛍️ Thrift shopping @ Sydenham, Colombo Street
🍰 Grizzly Baked Goods
🍽️ Saigon Centre (Vietnamese)
🛍️ Window-shopping in the city centre
Day 4 (Thu)🏛️ Centre of Contemporary Art
🏛️ Exploring The Arts Centre: Rutherford’s Den, Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, The Central Art Gallery
🍽️ Little Fish Co @ Riverside Market (Seafood)
Day 5 (Fri)🌳 Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
🍽️ Happy Kitchen (Hong Kong)
Day 6 (Sat)CHC✈️ZQN
Queenstown Itinerary (6-11 Aug)
Day 1 (Sat)CHC✈️ZQN
🏨 Check in @ Amity Queenstown Serviced Apartments
🍽️ Ferg Burger (American)
🍪 Cookie Time
Day 2 (Sun)🍽️ Fergbaker (American)
🚢 TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour
🍽️ Tham Nak Thai (Thai)
🔭🌃 (cancelled) Skyline Gondola + Stargazing
Day 3 (Mon)🏛️ Lakes District Museum & Gallery
🥾 Exploring Arrowtown + gold panning by the river
🍽️ Arrow Thai Food @ Arrowtown
🍨 Patagonia Chocolates – Ice Creamery & Chocolaterie
🍽️ Devil Burger (American)
Day 4 (Tue)⛷️ Skiing on Coronet Peak + first-timer lesson
🍽️ Bombay Palace (Indian)
Day 5 (Wed)🌳 Kiwi Park Queenstown
🍽️ Tanoshi @ Cow Lane (Japanese)
🧊 Minus 5° ICE BAR
Day 6 (Thu)🛍️ Remarkables Park Town Centre
🍽️ Saigon Kingdom (Vietnamese)
All the other posts in this series

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