Kids are often itching to get out and about in the school holidays, and sometimes they have a list of places they want to go before the school term even ends.  These sorts of places can produce some great memories, and add a lot of photos to the family album… they can also be a drain on your wallet! But, there are some ways of saving money on family holidays.

By thinking ahead and making the most of the opportunities available, you don’t have to break the bank to have some amazing family experiences (and keep the kids fed while out and about) in the school holidays. There are increasingly affordable school holiday options available to the savvy parent. Here are some great ideas for saving more on holidays for families!

Saving Money on Family Holidays

Travel and getting out of home overnight

Dust off the tent and camp stretchers, and find a campsite – don’t feel you need to drive for days and fill the petrol tank several times to get somewhere suitable.   We are so lucky in New Zealand to have amazing camping spots literally everywhere.  There are very cheap DOC campsites (these are sometimes a bit primitive but can be a great bonding experience!) through to five-star holiday parks

You have to be a bit brave in some parts of New Zealand to tent year-round, but up north there is never really a bad time to go camping.

If there are family members dying for a visit from your whanau, you could try your luck with grabaseat – Air New Zealand’s super cheap daily deals site.   If you’ve got Fly Buys or Air New Zealand Airpoints, think about cashing them in – even if you only get one fare free, it can make a big difference to your holiday budget.

For cheap package deals, check out holiday packages on sale sites.

If there is a little more bulk in the holiday budget, one of the best value holiday packages for families is a cruise.  You can get very cheap per-night rates and sometimes smaller children can cruise for as low as $99 a trip (even for cruises scheduled in school holidays).  With all meals included, children’s holiday programmes on board and a huge variety of activities to please everyone – this is a unique and amazing experience for all ages.

Discounts and days together

Getting out and about in the school holidays has become a cheaper endeavour with the onslaught of daily deal websites that list great deals at (often remarkably) reduced prices.

The sites sell tickets and coupons online, and the deals change frequently.  You purchase on the day of advertising, but the coupon may be valid for a time period in the future (check the time period falls within the school holidays if you are planning an outing).  You generally send the voucher to a phone app, or print it, and produce it at the venue for entry. You can get vouchers for a whole range of fun activities and they can save you a lot of money.


Everyone with kids knows that the food bill increases in the school holidays!  There are a few hints to get through those weeks without going to the supermarket every other day.

Can you make extra in the weeks leading up to the holidays, and freeze some?  Even freezing enough for an individual meal means you can direct hungry teenagers to a single serving when they complain of hunger pangs.

Buy some bulk cheap meat or beans and make them into ready-to-go slow cooker meals such as those found here.  Then you can pop on the slow cooker and it can be ready to go once you get home from a day out – this is the best way to avoid tempting and costly takeaways.  Even in summer this works – just add a quick salad and some bread.

If things are looking hectic, you could always try online grocery shopping– sometimes there are even specials that make online grocery shopping delivery free or cheaper items when shopping is done online. You can read more about buying your groceries online in How we used online tools to save $57,653.

We also have some great ideas for cheap food on the go and quick easy meal ideas that are very economical.

School holidays can be a tricky time for families but with a bit of advance planning, you can make you money go further so that you can keep all of the family happy.

For more great money saving travel tips see 10 cleaver little travel hacks to save you time and money. And for more great travel ideas, check out the Travel section.

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Sally is the Community Manager here at Kiwi Families. She fills her time with her handsome, busy boys and her handsome, busy husband; trying out new recipes and researching and writing about family life in Aotearoa.

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