One of the hardest things for me to get used to when we moved to New Zealand was the money: saying ‘dollars’ instead of ‘pounds’; ‘cents’ instead of ‘pence’. I was ten. I kept mucking up my maths homework by automatically drawing pound signs where dollar signs were required. Not that it mattered – it was still decimal currency – it was just another reminder of how far away from home I was.
I missed ‘coppers’, the one and two pence pieces you get in Britain. (Yes, it’s the little things you miss.) The lowest coin in New Zealand was the five cent piece. Was. That got abolished a few years ago, which is a shame because it had a nice image of a tuatara on it. The lowest coin now is the ten cent piece. How long before that becomes worthless too?
When we moved here, in 2001, one pound was worth approximately three New Zealand dollars, which was fantastic when it came to us buying a house, or getting birthday cheques from relatives back home. Now it’s worth less than two. People often complain about how high the cost of living here has become, (and I’m among them,) but isn’t it the same everywhere?
Petrol in New Zealand is a little over two dollars a litre at the moment – that’s about one point seven-five US dollars; just over a pound. Petrol in America is less than one US dollar per litre, and petrol in Britain is more than one pound thirty per litre. So no surprises there: petrol in New Zealand is a lot more expensive than in the US, but slightly cheaper than in the UK.
Food… If I’m extremely careful, (and I have to be,) I can survive on thirty dollars a week if the right things are on special, but that gets very boring and I find myself wanting to visit my parents more often. In general, New Zealand is more expensive than the UK food-wise, but when it comes to dining out New Zealand has the UK beat.
My all-time favourite restaurant is the foodstore, in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin. I went there for my graduation dinner, my 21st birthday and my boyfriend’s and my one-year anniversary. It’s a posh place and the food is sublime, but you don’t pay through the nose. Mains cost between twenty-nine and forty-two dollars – yes, that’s as much as I spend on food in a week, but it’s not very expensive for what it is. Think what it would be in London!
The average wage here is twenty-seven dollars an hour. Wages in New Zealand are lower than Australia – which is why so many kiwis are ‘crossing the ditch’ – and they’re also lower than in Britain. However, the minimum wage in Britain is lower than New Zealand’s minimum wage of thirteen dollars fifty an hour.
Rent in Auckland is scarily expensive, but it’s not too bad elsewhere. My boyfriend and I want to escape the city centre as soon as we are no longer tied to it by the university. We want to take a holiday together, but money is a problem.
New Zealand used to be considered a cheap holiday destination, minus the cost of flights, of course, but the rise of the New Zealand dollar over the last few years has changed that somewhat. Campervan hire is still a great way to go, especially at this time of year, (winter, also known as the ‘low’ or ‘off’ season,) and my boyfriend and I are looking into it. Yes, campervanning may not be quite as fun in winter, but it doesn’t rain all the time and we can always snuggle for warmth!
In many ways, winter is the best time of year for bush walking, because you don’t get all tired and sweaty and headachy. At this time of year, you can hire a campervan for under thirty dollars a day – in the height of summer it can be well over a hundred dollars a day, and we’re looking at the cheapest ones. I wish my boyfriend hadn’t sold his car. I suppose we could always hire a car, but I’d rather get a campervan if we were going to do that and save on accommodation.
Anyway, my family have found that overall the cost of living in New Zealand is cheaper than in the UK, but even if it weren’t that wouldn’t matter: the quality of living in New Zealand is so much better.