HOWTO: Living in New Zealand (or Other Suitable Locale) for a Month!
August 27, 2013 2:27 AM   Subscribe

I've been traveling in South America and India for about five months now at a fairly frenetic pace, and am looking for a change. I've decided I want to settle down in one city from around September 15-October 15, and I'm thinking New Zealand is the place I want to do it (but I am open to other cities in other countries that meet my criteria, so feel free to throw them out!). I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts you have on the best city, the best way to find lodging, transport, etc. - details on what I'm looking for below!

I'm looking for a place that meets the following criteria:

(i) ready access to the outdoors. I love to hike, and I want to spend a good amount of time exercising, so I'd like to be in a place where I can hike on an almost daily basis, weather permitting, and have some variety in trails - though I'm happy to hike the same route repeatedly too. I am happy to rent a car, take cabs, public transit, etc. (subject to budget), to get to trails, though if everything is close enough that I could walk, that would be great too.

(ii) ready access to a decent supermarket. I'd like to cook for myself a decent amount of the time.

(iii) good internet access. I still do some work while travelling, and need a strong internet connection to connect to my work's network.

(iv) access to a gym. Exercise will be a major priority during this month, and I'd like access to a gym with weights. Nothing fancy needed.

(v) rent studio/small apt or hotel room for around $1000 USD for the month. My budget for the month is around $3000-$4000, so I could probably go over $1000 a bit, but would prefer to keep it to $1000 or less.

Everything else is less important to me - a fun bar/restaurant scene, possibility to meet people, etc., would be great too, but are not absolutely necessary.

I'd love any thoughts people have as to where in New Zealand I should set up, how to go about getting a short term rental from overseas, how to handle transportation (longterm car rental?), and so on. From talking to people I know, I feel like Queenstown and Wanaka could fit my needs, but my limited work trying to find apartments so far have not resulted in fantastic success. Thanks in advance!
posted by traveltheworld to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Costa Rica?
posted by empath at 4:19 AM on August 27, 2013 is a good place to find rentals and flatmates. You might find short term rentals geared towards international students.
You could also have a look at although they will be geared towards short term stays.
posted by poxandplague at 4:34 AM on August 27, 2013

Benchmarking for rental prices in New Zealand. $1NZ = $.78US.

A month is going to be tricky though in terms of arranging something set up with the utilities you need at the price you want for a place of your own. For example, when I wanted a three month short term rental a few years back in Oz the landlord wanted a hefty deposit and they considered three months very short. I also paid a short term rental premium - this was not a managed accommodation place either, which will be more expensive - bills came in our name.

I'd suggest looking into a long term rental at a cabin in a holiday park and negotiating on price as a long term rental. As an example, the one in Dunedin is NZ$60 a night for a seven night stay, so US$1,400 for the month. It won't be glamorous but may be adequate. The park (although perhaps not the cabin) has wifi and a pool but no gym. It has communal bathroom and kitchen facilities. It is on the bus network. There is a supermarket down the road. Dunedin is a university town with attractive scenery and coastline nearby. I've never been to this specific campground so it could be good or bad, but Top 10 is a decent organisation and if you go down that route you can look for other camp grounds with cabins that fit your needs and budget. I doubt in any of them the wifi will be that great though.

Another route is youth hostels, but you have to pick your spot. My general rule is that if they have a bar, avoid like the plague and you can guarantee that everyone will be using the wifi heavily at peak time. Even then, a single room comes out at NZ$60 a night somewhere like my Dunedin example.

Finally - I'd look at house sitting. It's more of a long shot, but given what you want - space to work, cheap, privacy, utilities set up, it might be a good option to try for before you have to pay.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:43 AM on August 27, 2013

You could also try AirBnB, but I've had a quick look there and I'm not finding many good options for that period. If you were open to sharing, then you'd probably find something in your price range. (Bear in mind, property prices in NZ are high, and with the low US dollar costs are going to seem higher than you're used to).

Queenstown and Wanaka, being major tourist areas, are also very expensive. Also, September isn't really the best time to visit NZ as it will still be reasonably cold. Maybe somewhere in the north of the country would be better, but I'm not sure where exactly to suggest. Maybe the Lake Taupo area? This place could be an option...
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:40 PM on August 27, 2013

I'm an American who recently lived in New Zealand for 4 years.

What kind of weather do you want to experience? There's a pretty wide variety across the country, and if you're looking for the best access to mountains and trails, keep in mind that your timeframe puts you in the trailing end of winter there. There are few places in the country that aren't a couple hours' drive from several hiking trails. But if you want ready access to the outdoors and varied hiking terrain as your top priority (so long as the other criteria are met), I'd recommend ordering your search this way.


Caveat: I know little about the country north of Auckland, save that there's lots of Maori (many of whom are poor). Someone else may be able to point you to an area up there worth investigating.


Queenstown, Wanaka, to a lesser extent Ohakune and Christchurch will all be wintery, as in snow and cold. You'll encounter wind and rain in Wellington, and some rain and snow (it's a toss-up) in Ohakune. Nelson will likely be sunny and less cold, and Taupo should be sunny and even warmer. Coromandel will be the warmest.


Queenstown, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch will all have lots of options in terms of supermarkets, gyms, and internet access. Wanaka and Taupo will have options as well, just not as many as the others. Ohakune is the most small-town on this list, but you wouldn't have to look too hard to fit these criteria there. It would be difficult to find a place in Coromandel that will satisfy your criteria, but it's worth a look, especially if you're wanting a warmer location. Surrounding areas in the mountains/hills, like Arrowtown (about 30 minutes outside of Queenstown) or Blenheim, will have plenty of terrain but you'll have very few options to meet these criteria.


You'll have to spend a fair amount of time searching for a place in Queenstown that will meet your price point and still have the other criteria in place. Same but to a lesser extent for Wanaka. Keep in mind that you're dealing with winter ski season in the mountains. Wellington and Christchurch will have a lot of options to look through.

It seems like you're looking for a place by yourself. You'll have much better luck sticking to your budget if you're open to having a room in a flat with other people - this is very common practice in NZ even for adult professionals. In addition, you won't need to get things like kitchenware that a potential flatmate(s) would already have. As far as how to search: my first option would be trademe, then gumtree, flatfinder and the like. If you're having trouble finding listings for a single or studio that would meet your criteria, then I'd reconsider the flatmate option. Fair warning, you might get a bit frustrated in your search online - NZ is a small country that's very community-driven, and a lot of this kind of thing is done word-of-mouth. Another option would be staying in a backpackers or hostels, though this will come with its own headaches like a bunch of loud/unruly 18-year olds partying on holiday, spotty internet access and the like. You might find something that meets your criteria on bookabach or other holiday rental listings, though these are generally pretty pricey.

I think you picked well - New Zealand is an amazing country, and the people are some of the most genuinely kind and hospitable folks I've ever encountered. Good luck!
posted by hootenatty at 4:10 PM on August 27, 2013

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