Our neighbours across the ditch have plenty to offer Kiwi travellers. What they lack in decent ski slopes, they make up with stunning beaches, gorgeous coral reefs and friendly locals.
The proximity of Australia not only makes it super convenient for a quick break or a more extended escape, but the similarity of our currencies means it isn't too hard to wrap your head around the Aussie dollar. Despite both being antipodean currencies (isn't that a fun new word to throw into convo?), there are still a few strange quirks that may pop up when planning a budget for a trip to Australia, or using the AUD. Long story short, you can't just assume that an Aussie travel budget is the same as one for NZ.
Travel Money NZ has done the hard yards to make your Aussie travel budget planning easy with our travel budget calculator. It combines daily exchange rates with Numbeo data to give you an accurate idea of how much you'll be spending in the great land of Oz. Before we jump into the budget planner though, let's chat about what is included in an Australian travel budget.
What goes into a budget for Australia?
Thankfully trips across the Tasman are pretty cheap these days. Depending on seasonality and travel deals, you may be able to score a flight less than $300. Otherwise, trips will range between $300 and $1000 depending on where you travel. Australia is a big place, and if you plan on going to rural areas, or further over west to places like Perth, you can expect to pay a little more. Travelling outside of school holidays and significant events will decrease flight prices if you are on a budget.
Once you arrive in Australia, your cross country travel options will vary between the following:
- Flights: If you don't have much time, flights are your best bet for travelling between major cities. Why? Well, did we mention Australia is enormous? The drive from Brisbane to Sydney is just over 10 hours (without stopping). The flight, however, is less than 2 hours and will cost you far less in terms of car hire and fuel. Budget airlines have plenty of ongoing deals; however, they aren't always super reliable when it comes to leaving on time, so give yourself plenty of leeway.
- Trains: Several major cities can be accessed by train; however, the rail system is nowhere near as efficient as other countries like Japan. The Indian Pacific and The Ghan are popular cross-country train journeys, not only for the scenery but also the level of service. With tickets starting around $1500 for a one-way trip, they certainly aren't the budget option. However, if you are after a bit of luxury, consider these options as a means of transport.
- Buses: What is lacking in trains, Australia makes up for in bus networks being well serviced by Greyhound and similar bus companies. Bus routes service all major cities, and you should easily be able to find connections to less populated destinations. In terms of pricing, they are definitely on the affordable side, with a ticket from Brisbane to Sydney starting at $100. While you may be able to get a cheaper flight on a good deal, we can guarantee your luggage allowance will be smaller on the plane compared to the bus trip.
- Car hire: If you've got plenty of time and a few friends to share the driving with, car or camper hire is one of the most popular means of transport in Australia. The highways and roads are very well serviced, with plenty of rest stops and cute towns for you to stop in. There are car hire options for all budget types, so we recommend doing some research to find a vehicle suitable for your needs. A reminder though, if you plan on driving through the middle of Australia or any other particularly sparse landscapes, be sure to have the equipment and supplies to get you through.
After you have arrived at your destination, your transport options may vary. Bigger cities are all well serviced by public transport, whether it be buses, trains, trams or ferries. Most cities require some sort of reloadable card - in Sydney, it's the Oyster, in Brisbane, it's the Go Card. While you can still buy paper tickets, they are often far more expensive than the reloadable card prices. You'll be able to purchase the cards at ticketing offices in train and bus stations, or most news agencies.
Smaller towns will have some sort of bus service, but chances are you'll be able to get around by foot (especially in small beach towns). If you do need to catch a bus, check the timetable in advance as they will either run every 30 or 60mins.
Car hire is once again a great option if you are keen to explore the outskirts of the town, just keep in mind that inner-city parking prices can be pretty steep. Fuel prices are pretty similar to NZ; however, they do fluctuate frequently, and prices on the higher side can dig into your travel fund.
Australia has accommodation options for all travel styles and budgets. Pricing and standards are pretty similar to New Zealand, and reviews are a pretty good gauge of what to expect.
In major cities there is no shortage of hotels and Airbnb is becoming increasingly more popular. This is also the case for popular tourist spots like the Gold Coast. It is worth choosing accommodation with a kitchen, as eating out for every meal can add up very quickly. Australia also has plenty of supermarkets with world-class produce, so you will feel inspired to cook. Trust us; it's hard to beat sitting on your hotel room balcony overlooking the ocean while having some cheese and crackers. It's an Aussie tradition.
Smaller towns and regions will offer more bespoke accommodation, like cute cabins, beachside shacks and luxury villas. Caravan parks are also very popular, with options to camp or stay in cabins. Cabins are an affordable option if you don't have camping gear, though prices can inflate during school holiday periods.
Finally, Australia is no different to the rest of the world in that there are hostels wherever you go. Cheap bunks in rooms shared with travellers from around the world are always a good time. Just shake off the sand before you walk inside; no one wants sand in their sheets or on the couch.
As we mentioned above, Australian cuisine is world-class. Australia's size allows it to grow pretty much all of it’s fresh produce, reducing the need to import. Chefs and restaurants capitalise on this, serving tantalising dishes that will dance along your tastebuds and leave you wanting more. These dishes are, of course, always paired with a glass of local wine.
If you're after something slightly less fancy, there is no shortage of fish and chip shops or pubs dishing out hearty meals, otherwise known as a good 'pub feed' or 'pub grub'.
Australian's are very patriotic about their snacks and food, so be sure to try a meat pie with plenty of tomato sauce (between $2 and $10 depending on how fancy they are), a sausage in bread from Bunnings fondly known as the Bunnings snag ($2), and of course some Vegemite on toast. For the love of all that is good in the world, don't eat Vegemite off a spoon - that's disgusting. Melt some butter on toast and spread a reasonable layer of Vegemite on top like a respectable human. A jar of vegemite is about $6 and can be taken home as a delicious treat or a badge of honour.
Without the option of street food markets, eating out for every meal in Australia can prove quite costly. Save some coin by visiting Coles or Woolworths to stock up on snacks and make a few meals.
Expect to pay around the following when eating out in Australia:
Cappuccino or flat white - $3 to $6
Restaurant main meal - $30+
Steak main meal - $40+
Burger - $15 to $25
Pub meal - $20+ (look out for the specials)
Fish and chips for two - $25
A packet of Tim Tams - two for $5 on sale at Woolworths
Bottle of water - $3
Activity choices will vary based on where in Australia you visit. We've broken down a few major tourist attractions and their prices below:
Theme parks on the Gold Coast - Tickets start at $100 and go up from there. If you want to visit more than one, consider purchasing a ticket that covers a few parks.
Wine and brewery tours - Prices vary depending on the region but expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a full-day tour with plenty of samples.
Diving and snorkelling tours - Prices will once again vary, but a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef will set you back between $90 and $300 depending on trip inclusions.
Museums and galleries - Most are free, charging a small fee for special exhibitions
Going to the beach - Free, just swim between the flags (no one wants to be on Bondi Rescue).
A lot of Australia's beauty is found in nature, so dedicate some time to exploring the National Parks, beaches and natural wonders. Each city is also buzzing with its own unique energy, so hit the pavement and get amongst it.
Kiwi's don't need a visa to travel to Australia, and you should be alright when it comes to needing travel vaccinations. However, it is still worth chatting with your doctor if you have any concerns. Make sure you also account for travel insurance; a must, regardless of where you are travelling in the world.