At Skyscanner New Zealand, we’ve researched the cheapest destinations you can get to from New Zealand. For your ease we’ve broken down the average expenses for return flights from Auckland, a night in a 3-star hotel, a bottle of beer, a meal out for two (a three-course meal and a budget option), and the cost of a typical local activity.
So if you’re still wondering where to go this year, or just want to know where the cheapest holiday destinations are in 2018, then look no further:
1. Rarotonga, Cook Islands
With Oceania on our doorstep, there are plenty of paradisaical options for New Zealanders to choose from. Before you go booking those flights to Fiji, we recommend that you look at the Cook Islands first. This country has 15 islands you can explore, and all of them are stunning; the most popular are Rarotonga and Aitutaki, both of which feature turquoise lagoons, colourful reefs, and those picture-perfect white-sand beaches.
On Rarotonga visit Muri Beach and Titikaveka Beach, stroll around the capital Avarua, and make time for the island’s Te Vara Nui Village tour to learn about the indigenous culture. On Aitutaki, hike Mount Maungapu, spend time in Arutanga, and go snorkelling in the water surrounding the island.
As for a budget holiday, you can get around the whole island via bus, there are plenty of budget hotels and backpacker hostels, and a whole host of food trucks and street stalls for delicious eats in the main towns (particularly Rarotonga). As an added bonus, you’ll find that the Cook Islands are in free association with New Zealand, so no need to worry about sorting a visa or paying visa fees (yay!).
Flights: From $410
Accommodation: From $35
Price of beer: $2-4
Average cost of dinner for two: $30; $10
Cost of activities: $49 (for Village Tour)
2. Xi An, China
Travelling to China is a great way to make a holiday budget stretch, and with so many cities to see in this country it’s hard to know where to start first. Xi’an in central China is a great way to kick off a tour of China, but it works on its own as a singular destination. Once known as the start of the legendary Silk Road, you will find the historical and cultural attractions here duly impressive, and none more so than the awe-inspiring Terracotta Soldiers.
Make time during your stay to walk (or tandem-bike!) along the city walls, and see the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. And then throw yourself into a world of delicious (and cheap) local cuisine.
Flights: From $590
Accommodation: From $28
Price of beer: $0.65
Average cost of dinner for two: $17.25; $5.38
Cost of activities: $26-$32 (adult entry to see Terracotta Soldiers)
3. Palawan, Philippines
The charms of Southeast Asia are well known to any antipodean worth their salt, but just northeast of the mainland backpackers trail are the islands of the Philippines. Flying to Manila is cheap given the distance, and then short internal flights can get you to the gorgeous reaches of Palawan.
Go on a tour of the Underground River, scuba dive in El Nido, swim in the pools of Estrella Falls, or go or Honda Bay Island hopping. The beaches here speak for themselves, as does the spectacular dive and snorkelling sites you can find here. But what is perhaps less known is the incredible hospitality of the Filipino people, their rich culture, and their incredible cuisine.
Flights: From $595
Accommodation: From $23
Price of beer: $1.30
Average cost of dinner for two: $22; $8
Cost of activities: $42 (day tour of the Honda Bay Islands)
4. Bali, Indonesia
There’s a reason Bali is consistently recommended to travellers worldwide, and that’s because it has everything. Beautiful beaches, volcanic peaks, and great surf spots combined with a vaunted dining scene and an excellent nightlife, make this island attractive to almost every kind of traveller. You’ll find that Bali really is what you make of it; there are plenty of places to splurge but you can eat, drink, and sight-see quite easily on a shoestring budget.
Visit the atmospheric Tanah Lot water temple, Ubud’s UNESCO-listed rice terraces and the Pura Ulun Danu Batur Temple to get your historical fix, and then tour the monkey forest for an afternoon of pure fun.
Flights: From $610
Accommodation: From $28
Price of beer: $3.11
Average cost of dinner for two: $29.03; $5.5
Cost of activities: $50 (per adult for a temple or nature day trip)
5. Phuket, Thailand
Gorgeous, and easy-going Thailand is a no brainer when it comes to choosing a cheap holiday destination from NZ, but where to go in Thailand? That’s the real question. Whether you’re strapping on a backpack for a budget tour, or want a reasonably priced family holiday, Phuket is the perfect solution. You’ll find a trip here is not only easy on your bank balance thanks to the cheap accommodation and inexpensive dining options, but there’s plenty to do: Phuket Town offers colonial architecture, museums, and Thai fusion cuisine; Patong offers lively nightlife; Kata and Kata Noi beaches offer sun, sea, and sand; and the Hat Nai Yang National Park offers an escape into nature.
Also, as an added bonus, intrepid travellers can book boat trips out to the remarkable Phi Phi Islands, known for their azure waters, white sands, and starring role in the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach.
Flights: From $616
Accommodation: From $29
Price of beer: $2.65
Average cost of dinner for two: $27.49; $4.72
Cost of activities: $120 (for a all day boat trip to the Phi Phi Islands)
6. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Fancy a big city break? Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect panacea. This energetic city has all the hallmarks of a truly great destination: culture, history, great architecture, and of course, amazing food. Make time for the Jade Emperor Pagoda, Lam Son Square, the Reunification Palace, and the Cu Chi tunnels, before throwing yourself into the hustle and bustle of the market places and shopping centres of this city.
District 1 is big for the backpacker scene, but you can find cheap hotels everywhere in this city. Budget travellers will also be blown away by the dining options here, especially given the fact that Vietnam is considered one of the best street food destinations in the world.
Flights: From $618
Accommodation: From $42
Price of beer: $1.12
Average cost of dinner for two: $22.47; $5.06
Cost of activities: $4.50 (admission into the Cu Chi Tunnels)
7. Penang, Malaysia
Malaysia is full of fantastic destinations, from its glorious beach strewn islands, its wild jungles, and its contemporary cities you can’t really go wrong booking a flight to Malaysia. Penang caught our attention for this list because here you can experience all three. Set your sights first on George Town, a mash up of British, Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, which all play out in the city’s architecture, art scene, and (most importantly) its mouth-watering cuisine.
Since Penang is an island, you will find it fringed on all sides by idyllic beaches, such as the happening Batu Ferrenghi, or the secluded Teluk Bahang. You can pack a bag and hike in Penang National Park, and end the day on Monkey Beach, which is true to its name thanks to the cheeky macaques that live here.
Flights: From $620
Accommodation: From $7
Price of beer: $4.49
Average cost of dinner for two: $22.47; $8.84
Cost of activities: $23 (adult entry to Entopia tropical sanctuary)
8. Delhi, India
Delhi, the famed capital of India, may be a cheap destination but it’s rich on everything else. The city itself is a feast for the senses, especially in Chandni Chowk, the old town, where food stalls back onto hundreds of shops of every kind. There are attractions like the Red Fort, Humuyun’s Tomb, and the Qutb Minar all within the city limits, but Delhi is also within close reach of Agra and the Taj Mahal, and can be done in a day if you’re really keen.
Added to all this, you’ll discover that dining, transport and accommodation are very cheap. Allowing you to go for the full backpacker experience, or to upgrade a little to the kind of mid-range hotels you might not have been able to afford back home.
Flights: From $800
Accommodation: From $30
Price of beer: $2.60
Average cost of dinner for two: $22; $7
Cost of activities: $10 (entry to Taj Mahal/Red Fort)
9. Prague, Czechia
Europe is renowned for being expensive, but Prague in Czechia is the exception to the rule. This remarkable city in central Europe offers you just as much romance, culture, and history as a city like Paris without the Parisian prices. Amble over the Charles Bridge to Prague Castle, the Old Town Square, and St. Vitus Cathedral to get a sense of the city’s weighty past. Then get to grips with its New Town district and try the famous Czech beers in the local pubs, or grab lunch in one of the many coffee shops that are known for their great budget eats.
Flights: From $1287
Accommodation: From $43
Price of beer: $2.31
Average cost of dinner for two: $42.59; $17.18
Cost of activities: $23 (full admission entry to Prague Castle)
10. La Paz, Bolivia
South America combines adventure and budget travelling really nicely, thanks to its ancient history, spectacular landscapes, buzzing cities, reasonable prices. Flying into La Paz will mean flying into highest capital city in the world, but it’s so much more than a been-there-done-that destination. Admire the colonial architecture and the city’s Cathedral in Plaza Murillo, see the stunning Gold Museum, and shop in the Witches Market and go to the UNESCO-listed Tiwanaku – the ancient Incan archeological site. La Paz also makes a great base for kicking off a tour of the nation’s most famous natural attractions too, like Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s salt flats, and Lake Titicaca.
Flights: From $1440
Accommodation: From $35
Price of beer: $4
Average cost of dinner for two: $42; $11
Cost of activities: $4 (entry to National Museum) and $200 (for a trip to the salt flats)