One thing I’ve noticed with New Zealand is that it can be quite difficult finding cheap short-term rental accommodation (as it can also be in Australia).

By “short-term rental” I’m referring to stays of say, one or two weeks, to possibly several months (but less than the usual 6 to 12 months that most landlords require).

This is in contrast to countries like Thailand, where many (if not most) accommodation providers offer rates for daily, weekly, and monthly stays.

In New Zealand, your short-term rental options usually consist of the following:

  • Pay the nightly rate multiplied by the number of nights
  • Try to negotiate a lower rate with the accommodation provider
  • Go through a real estate agent and sign up for a 6 month (or 12 month!) lease

Pay the nightly rate multiplied by the number of nights

While this option can work well for shorter stays, it can become very expensive if you plan to stay more than a few weeks at the same location. Hotels/motels rarely charge less than $120 per night (more like $140 per night and higher) so multiplying that by say, 21 days, will cost you more than $2,500.

Of course, you can always save money by staying in a camping ground. A small cabin at a camping ground could be as low as $50 or $60 per night. And if you bring your own caravan, campervan, or even tent, your accommodation bills can be reduced quite considerably.

Try to to negotiate a lower rate with the accommodation provider

This is something you should probably always try to do when staying longer than a few nights at the same location. I always ask the accommodation provider if they offer discounts for longer stays. They usually ask “how long” and I reply with something like “maybe weeks, maybe months… depends on the discount”!

Some providers advertise lower rates for longer term stays but most don’t. If you plan on staying several months, ask if they offer a monthly rate.

The season can make a big difference on the price you pay and whether you can secure a large discount on your accommodation.

For example, I’m currently paying $350 per week for a fully furnished holiday cottage in Nelson, which usually goes for $240 per night. Mind you, I had to sign a 9-month lease, but the lease allows me to cancel at any time by giving 3 weeks notice. I found this place online before I arrived in New Zealand and emailed the owner asking if they offer discounts for longer term stays of several months or more. I was surprised when he provided me with a link to the TradeMe website advertising it for $350 per week (utilities extra).

In case you don’t know, the TradeMe website is one of New Zealand’s most popular websites. It’s a buy/sell website and also includes real estate rentals.

Go through a real estate agent and sign up for a 6 month (or 12 month!) lease

If you’re comfortable with this option, you could pay as little as a few hundred dollars per week for a two or three bedroom house in a good location. Perhaps less for an apartment.

However, there are several problems with going the real estate agent route.

First of all, you need to be able to commit to staying for the full 6 months (or 12) that you sign on the lease. If you’re only staying a few months, you’d best not go down this route – unless you can find a landlord who’s willing to allow you to sign a shorter lease (probably won’t be easy).

Also, most properties offered through real estate agents are non-furnished. This means you’ll need to buy a bed, fridge, lounge suite, kitchen table, washing machine, etc etc. This is just not feasible if you’re only here on holiday. OK, some rental properties are offered fully furnished, but then you’ll run into the next issue.

You’ll need to complete an application form (once you’ve inspected the place).  This application is then presented to the landlord (along with any other applications) and the landlord will choose whichever he/she thinks is the best fit. If you’re only in NZ on holiday, this could cause some problems. If you have no rental track record in NZ this could cause problems.

One way around this issue could be to offer to pre-pay the full 6 months in advance. But then that’s a risk you’d need to be willing to take…

Conclusion

While finding short-term rental accommodation in New Zealand can be quite difficult, a little bit of effort can achieve positive results. Just be prepared to spend some time researching the market before you arrive at your destination. And don’t be afraid to fire off those emails asking for discounts!