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New Zealand Travel Tips & Questions

What supermarkets are there?

As restaurant prices in New Zealand tend to make a sizeable hole in the travel funds using the kitchen facilities in hostels is always going to be the cheapest way to go.

So, if you are going to be cooking your own meals it is helpful to know what your food shopping options are. The main five are -

  • Countdown – a subsidiary of Woolworths – offers a loyalty card scheme..

  • Four Square – tend to be smaller convenience-type stores (see below re 'dairies') but found in both big cities and smaller towns.

  • Fresh Choice – slightly more limited locations than the other options.

  • New World – offers a money-saving tourist card scheme.

  • PAK'nSAVE – this warehouse-like nothing-fancy chain has some truly cheap bargains on an ongoing basis and sells all kinds of things beside food. You can also apply for a loyalty card to have access to members-only discounts.

Besides the main and most often found supermarkets you will also come across ethnic choices such as Asian in the major cities. Also in the mix are what Kiwis call 'dairies' but you might know as a convenience store. One of the chain varieties of these is called Night n' Day although the majority are locally-owned private concerns.

It is worth noting that food prices in general are not one of the most backpacker-friendly elements of this wonderful country. Although New Zealand grows or farms many products – dairy, fruit and vegetables, wine, lamb etc – a huge chunk of this is destined for the overseas markets. This fact keeps the domestic prices higher than you might imagine. Also, for any goods that are imported you can expect to pay through the nose because New Zealand is, geographically-speaking, two isolated islands and the cost of getting things here is high.

Keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand's budget brands; they are often the most no-frills, simply packaged options and can be supermarket-specific such as 'Homebrand' in Countdown or New World's 'Budget' range or generally available private brands such as 'Pam's'. However, all of the supermarkets almost always have some great promotions going on for higher quality branded products too so don't assume you have to go budget every time.