Cost of Living

Cost of living in New Zealand

In general, you should budget NZ $350-$400 per week for living expenses; that is a total of NZ $14,000 – NZ $16,000 from mid-February to mid-November. If you decide to stay during the summer holidays, you will need to budget accordingly.

Books and stationery costs will vary depending on your courses, ranging from NZ $500 – NZ $1,000 in the first year, and may increase in subsequent years for some courses.

Students from tropical countries may require an additional sum of NZ $600 – NZ $800 for warm clothing during their first year of study.

The items below shows average New Zealand (July 2019) costs for a few common items:

Common Prices

Movie ticket

Cup of coffee (flat white)

91 octane petrol (per litre)
NZ$2.00 – $2.40

Milk (2 litres)
NZ$3.50 - $4.50

Pair of jeans
Big MacNZ$6.00

Washing machine

New Zealand Money

New Zealand’s unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$). All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand, with Visa and MasterCard accepted most widely, followed by American Express and Diners Club.

Due to the discontinuation of 1c, 2c and 5c pieces, purchases made in New Zealand are subject to “rounding” of amounts either up or down. The Reserve Bank believes most retailers are adopting the Swedish Rounding System. Under this system prices, ending in 1 to 4 cents will be rounded down and prices ending in 6 to 9 cents will be rounded up.

For example, a purchase of $15.14 would be rounded down to $15.10, and a purchase of $15.16 would be rounded up to $15.20.

It is at the retailer’s discretion how they handle prices ending in 5 cents.

New Zealand Currency and Exchange Rate:


Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2.
Notes have valuesof $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

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Buying a Car

Many students choose to purchase a car

It is important that you check vehicles carefully before purchase or you can end up with a big bill for repairs. All vehicles must have current registration and Warrant of Fitness to be driven on the road.


Buying furniture for your flat

It is common to buy second-hand (used) furniture and equipment for setting up your flat as it is more economical.

For information on where to buy a) new or b) used furniture and equipment see below.

Used Furniture (Second Hand)

Second hand shops: look out for second hand shops run by charities like the Red Cross or The Salvation Army – they specialise in low-priced pre-loved furniture as well as clothes.

Noticeboards: keep an eye on your university/school noticeboards – other students usually try to sell their bigger items before they head back home.

Garage sales: people often sell unwanted belongings by holding a garage sale. Sometimes you can pick up a real bargain. Garage sales are usually held on a weekend and are advertised in the local paper. Alternatively, people create hand written signs pointing to the address and put them on main roads, so look out. Be early to bag the best bargains.
Trade Me: this is a popular website where people can sell anything – old furniture, tickets to concerts, even pets. The whole transaction is done online and you can pick up the goods or have them delivered. You can ask questions of the seller online but it is always buyer beware. Sellers are rated and monitored by Trade Me to block anyone with a bad history.

Buying New Products

Some cheaper places to buy new goods:

The Warehouse.