Cost of Living in New Zealand

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Grocery Shopping

Can you feed a family for under $300 a week? You can. But it will mean a lot of work on your part.

According to the latest annual survey (March 2008) by the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago, a family of four can live on a basic but nutritional diet (including non-food groceries) for around $220 a week. A couple can get by on $120. Both of these are in Auckland - if you live elsewhere, where choices of large supermarkets are fewer and farther between, you should allow a few more dollars for top ups at the more costly local dairy or Four Square.

"Basic" means you will be making everything from scratch - no ready-made pasta sauces, frozen or chilled ready meals or bought cakes and biscuits. That's not for you? Then the Otago study suggests your weekly supermarket shop could range from $300 to $370 for a family of four or $168 to $212 for a couple. the NZ equivalent of 'Which?' carries out regular supermarket price surveys that show some supermarkets can charge up to $20 more for a basic basket of goods costing around $130 at Pak'n Save (Pak n Save has typically been the winner in most of their supermarket price surveys).

Top money saving tips

Buy fresh produce only when it's in season and check out the prices at the local greengrocers and farmers markets.

Try a dummy grocery shop online with Countdown to compare a range of like for like, or similar products to what you would buy in an average week or month. Countdown is not necessarily the cheapest supermarket, but will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Loose bulk dry goods, washing powder, flours, spices etc. can be sourced from places like Bin Inn, which is often cheaper than buying packaged products.

It always pays to check prices and get to know the prices of the things you buy in order to spot the real bargains.

It is also beneficial to take a calculator shopping to check which product is the cheapest on a unit weight basis. Unusually, the biggest pack is not aways the cheapest and quite often two small items are cheaper than the larger packs.

Always check the best before or sell-by-dates; these are often very close to expiry (without being marked down) and don't be at all surprised to find things in supermarket fridges that have already passed their sell-by-date.


Next to food shopping, the largest bill through your mail box will be for power. Mainly we're talking electricity, as very few places have reticulated (piped) gas, although many do rely on LPG bottled gas (45kg) for heating water and cooking.

You can check out providers and price plans for electricity and gas at Powerswitch, it pays to keep an eye on this and review from time to time, to check whether you are getting the best rates possible.

Telephone and Internet

The options will of course vary according to speed and data requirements; the biggest and by no means the best, providers are:

Spark (previously known as Telecom) offers various data plans for mobile telephones and internet, as well as landlines. Currently (March 2018) you can expect to pay between $84.99 per month for a 60G limited broadband and landline package and $149.99 for super fast unlimited broadband, depending on location.

Orcon has a reasonable reputation and a range of plans. Broadband prices range from $84.99 per month for VDSL to $109.95 per month for 'Ultrafast' fibre . (Mar 18)







Canstar Blue provides consumer satisfaction comparisons for NZ broadband providers: 2Degrees, Flip, Orcon, Slingshot, Spark, Trustpower and Vodafone, based on network performance, customer service, value for money and overall satisfaction Canstar

Sky TV

Currently the most basic Sky 'Starter' package on offer is $24.91 - this is a new and very much pared down basic package offering primarily MTV, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network above what is freely available on regular TV Freeview.

Choice of additional subscriptions per month include:

$25.00 Sky Entertainment - 18 extra channels including BBC UK TV, Living and National Geographic

$20.93 Sky Movies

$29.90 Sky Sport

$15.00 MySky or

$20.00 MySky+

$ 9.99 High Definition

$ 8.81 Rugby Channel