Cost of Living

The approximate cost of a basic weekly shopping trip for a household of a man, woman and two teenagers will total an average of $251 per week, an annual food costs survey has found. The Estimated Family Food Costs Survey has been prepared every year since 1972 by student dietitians at Otago University.
Surveys were carried out at four supermarkets each in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The cost of food for a man was on average about $55 per week, while women ate an average of $53 worth. Adolescent boys were the most expensive to feed, costing $69 per week, while girls cost $58.
A 10-year-old child ate $48 worth of food per week, a five-year-old cost $29 to feed and children aged between one and four cost between $29 and $32 each week for food. However, non-food items could expect to add about $21 each week on a basic budget, $35 per week on a moderate budget, and $53 on a high-end budget, for a family of four.

The average cost of a basic weekly shopping expedition could therefore be expected to set a family, of a man and woman with a girl and a boy aged in their teens, back $251. The food costs were based on a basic shopping list that assumed food would be eaten at home using few pre-prepared items, and certain items would be chosen only when in season.

Households that upgraded their shopping list to include more expensive cuts of meat and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables could expect to pay a further $20 per person -- raising the average cost of food to the family with two teenagers, to $295 per week, and $296 if basic non-food items are included.
A further $15 per person per week could be added if a greater range of pre-prepared items were included in the food shopping -- costing the family with teenagers $320 each week in food, or $351 with basic non-food items.

Those shopping on a generous budget could pay up to $363 per week for a family with teenagers. The survey found the price did not vary significantly between regions, as supermarket chains kept prices similar in each centre. "Consumers can shop more economically at supermarkets, but the extra costs - ranging from $1 to $6 per person, depending on region, of shopping at local specialty shops may be worthwhile if the cost of travel to a supermarket is weighed against walking to a smaller local outlet," the surveyers said.

The surveyers also noted that many families and individuals spent less weekly than the estimated costs in the survey, but that not including some of the basic items could restrict a balanced diet.
"The risk of consuming a diet which does not meet New Zealand recommendations for good health, increases as expenditure falls below this."

What is the price of Petrol/Gasoline?

Most cars in New Zealand run on standard unleaded petrol. This has been priced at about $2.20 per litre during the last year. Premium unleaded fuel, for high-performance cars, costs about 8c per litre more than standard. 

Shopping list example as at July 2013

Arnotts Chocolate Biscuits - Caramel Crowns (200g)


Arnotts Crackers Cheds Box (250g)


Crackers Water (125g)


Oat Bran (500g)


Strawberry Jam (680g)


Sanitarium Marmite Yeast Spread jar (250g)


Sanitarium Skippy Cornflakes bag (300g)


Sanitarium Weetbix Wheat Biscuits Regular (750g)


Continental Cup A Soup Instant Soup Hearty Beef (55g per serve)


Pears Halves in Syrup (415g)


Pineapple Slices Natural Juice can (825g)


Tomatoes Whole Peeled Italian Roma (400g)


John West Salmon Pink Smokes (210g)


Oak Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (420g)


Oak Beetroot Sliced can (450g)


Watties Fruit Salad Tropical in Fruit Juice (425g)


Sunlight Dishwash Liquid Lemon (500ml)


Surf Front Loader Laundry Powder Tropical box


San Remo Pasta Penne #18 packet (500g)


Aim Toothpast Freshmint Tube (90g)


Lux Soap White Supreme Cream (93g) bars 6pk


Lynx Male Bodyspray 'Africa' (30g)


Macleans Flex Direct Toothbrush Adult Medium 1pk


Milk (2 ltr)


Brussell Sprouts (1kg)


Brocolli (per head)


Cereal Bars (240g)




Peas (1kg)


Sandwich Ham (200g)


Blueberry Muffins (6 pack)


Apples (1kg)


Bananas (1kg)


Toilet Rolls (12 pack)


Orange Juice (1 ltr)


Frozen Chips (1kg)


Cheese (1kg)


Butter (550g)


Sausages (6 pack)


Premimum Mince (1kg)


Rump Steak (1kg)


Fish and Chips (2 fish and chips)


KFC Burger


McDonalds Big Mac


Subway Sandwich


Drinks - Hot and Cold

Nescafe Instant Coffee Classic Refill



$3.50 - $4.00

Fruit and Vegetables

Countdown Potatoes White Washed bag (4kg)


Fresh Produce Onions Brown loose (1kg)


Fresh Product Parsnip NZ loose (1kg)


Liquor - Beer and Cider

Stella Artois Lager 330ml Bottles 12pk



Warrant of Fitness (WOF) for your vehicle: Six monthly - average


Vehicle registration

$200.00 pa

Bus Fare - Metro Christchurch return



$8.00 - $22.00

DVD/Video Hire

$6.00 - $9.00


Check out the following links also.

New arrivals who haven’t done their homework have sometimes expressed surprise at the prices they’ve seen in New Zealand’s stores and supermarkets. In saying that, keep in mind that some chains compete heavily on prices, which may differ wildly from the more expensive stores. On a positive note you may find some items are actually cheaper here. Please do your due diligence on all incurred costs in New Zealand before you arrive. 

People who have lived here longer look at the prices they see quoted online – and smile knowingly, because they’ve become street-smart and have found many ways to slash their expenses. 

Here’s a handy list of money-saving ideas to help speed you on your way: 
Wait for the sales, don’t make major purchases unless they’re on sale ie. buy goods from major stores such as Briscoes, The Warehouse etc. Anything you want to buy there will most definitely go on sale in the imminent future, often on long weekends and holidays. If items here seem expensive to you, just remember that it’s likely they will be discounted by at least 50% off in the near future. This includes everything from linen and toys, to furniture and coffee machines. 

It’s OK to haggle on bigger ticket items (say, $100 or more), you don’t always need to pay full sticker price for things like furniture, appliances, etc. Even mortgage and term deposit rates can be negotiable. 

Buy all produce from a specialised fruit and veg shop, they are usually much cheaper than supermarkets. Stock up when things are reduced in the supermarket, you can often save quite a lot. Start a veggie patch, the climate is on your side. Also frequent the myriad of Farmer’s markets every weekend in Christchurch for great deals on fresh food.
Check to see you are getting the best deal on power. 

Search sites such as before buying any electronics items for the best deals. Buying goods online can save you thousands each year.
Seek out the community newsletters in your suburbs because they will list all the various activities in the area which include family events like fun fairs, kids theme events etc. They are free, great fun and can include story-telling sessions, performances, kids costume activities, face painting and more.


The average cost of renting as at July 2013 is as follows:

Two bedroom flat: $325-$345 per week 
Three bedroom house: $388-$485 per week 
Four bedroom house: $483-$577 per week 
Five+ bedroom house: $595-$740 per week 
(Information sourced from the Department of Building and Housing website.)

The majority of landlords of properties expect tenants to sign a 12-month fixed-term tenancy agreement. If you sign into this type of lease, it means you are liable for rental payments for the entire 12 months, whether you are living in the property or not.

Set-up costs
Expect expenses up front when you first move into your property, including:

Furniture: Many flats are unfurnished so be prepared to buy items such as a bed, desk, couch, whiteware, cutlery and appliances.

Bond: Up to a maximum of four weeks' rent can be payable immediately. Your landlord is legally required to lodge your bond with the Department of Building and Housing. When you leave your flat, provided that you have not caused any damage, your bond will be refunded to you. If there is damage to the property the landlord can request that some or all of the bond is used to cover the repairs.

Rent in advance: Up to a maximum of two weeks' rent, payable immediately.

Connection fees: You may need to pay a bond and/or a connection fee to connect your power, phone and internet.