Posted by: Vallere | April 22, 2011

Friday’s Flipside Five: Exchange Rates

Y’all…I’m sorry. I totally forgot about last Friday. I mean, I realize that all 5 of you are hanging on my every word, clicking refresh all day on Thursday (in the States anyway, since I’m living in Tomorrow Land), unable to stand the wait until my newest post pops up, and I totally let you down.

You should be impressed…I actually wrote all of that with a straight face!

Seriously, though, I did forget, and to make it up to you, I’m going to do a double today! We’re going to talk about the exchange rate, and specifically, comparisons on what things cost here verses in the States. So I’ll have 2 lists of 5 today – 5 things that are cheaper to buy in the States, and 5 things that are cheaper to buy in New Zealand.

So here we go!

Things you’re better off buying in the States

1) Toys

On the whole, toys (especially name brand toys) are way more expensive here, even taking into account the exchange rate. For instance, last year for Hanukkah, we got both of the boys Zhu Zhu pets. I got them at Dollar General and paid $5 each for them. I think that’s a bit cheaper than you can get them at Walmart – they are showing $10 as the price for them now.

But here in New Zealand, a Zhu Zhu pet will set you back $25.99, which, converted, is $20.80. That’s at The Warehouse, which is pretty much the NZ version of Wally World. Needless to say, any new Zhu Zhu pets the boys get this year will come to them via the suitcases of family.

2) Fast Food

I’ve mentioned this before, but here’s the breakdown. In the States, to feed our family, we’d generally get a 10pc McNugget and small fry for the boys to split, 2 McDoubles and a tea for me, and 2 McDoubles with a large diet Coke for PG. That would have looked something like this:

  • 10pc McNuggets – ~$3.60
  • fry – $1
  • 4x burgers – $4
  • tea – $1
  • large drink – ~$1.75

Total: $11.35

In New Zealand, that would look like this:

  • 10pc McNugget – ~$6
  • small fry – $2.25
  • 4x McDoubles – $10 (they are $2.50 each…and on the Value menu, which includes 6 whole items under $3!)
  • tea – There is no such thing as sweet tea in New Zealand…so make that
  • 2x large drinks – $7 (around $3.50 each – and a large here is more likr 20 oz, not 32)

Total: $25.25 –

Converted to USD, that’s $20.20

Going to McD’s is a special treat here in Kiwi Land!

3) Electronics

This doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, since NZ is so much closer to the Asian countries responsible for most electronics, but be-that-as-it-may, electronics here will set you back quite a bit.

For instance, at Best Buy, a brand spanking new TomTom XXL 550 will set you back $166.99. At Dick Smith (the NZ version of Best Buy), their sale price is $229 – and that’s with $100 off! Converted you’d pay US$183. Even once you add tax, you’d pay more in NZ. Assuming you missed the sale, prepare to shell out US$319 for it. *groan*

4) Housewares

Much like electronics, housewares typically cost more – especially if you are looking for something that most folks here don’t own…like a drip coffee pot. Yep, the staple of every home in America is a rarity here in New Zealand. Now, EVERYONE has an electric kettle – and let me tell ya, I don’t know how I lived this long without something that can boil a liter and a half of water in under 60 seconds. Forget tea, this thing has saved me hours in cooking time for making oatmeal in the mornings! But, back to the coffee maker!

Walmart has a Hamilton Beach 12 cup coffee maker for $14.96. It’s nothing flash (you see what I did there?), but it’ll get the job done.

In NZ, on The Warehouse site, when you search for “coffee” the ONLY things that come up are French Presses. Honestly. I couldn’t find one on the Farmer’s site either (Farmers is sorta like Sears, I guess). Ridiculous, donchathink? However, I have seen them for sale here, on a little back shelf of Farmers, and there were only about 2 choices. The least expensive one was somewhere in the range of $55. Converted, that’s US$44. Enjoy your cuppa! I’ll have tea, thanks.

5) Gas

Sure, I’ve said it before, but with the never-ending stream of Facebook posts about how folks are going broke buying gas in the States, I thought another reality check was in order. Gas here has gone from $1.99/L when we arrived to $2.20/L when I filled up yesterday. Considering that there are 3.8L per gallon, and taking into account that the NZ dollar is currently worth US$0.80, that means that while you guys are bemoaning $3.80 per gallon, I’m paying US$6.68 per gallon over here. And I hear that in Europe, it’s double even what NZ is paying.

It’s all about perspective, folks!

Now, to make up for missing last week, here is part 2 of this weeks FFF:

Things I’m stoked about buying in New Zealand

1) Lamb

The clichés are true…there ARE 400 sheep per person over here. We have a paddock of sheep just down the road from us, and we’re less than a kilometer from downtown. The upsides? The gentle bleating of lambs can be heard through your windows at dusk…and I had the most fabulous leg of lamb for Passover this year EVER!

According to Harris Teeter, leg of lamb goes for $8.99/lb. For Passover this year, we got a 3.5 kg leg of lamb for NZ$35. That’s $10/kg x .8 = US$8 / kg. There are 2.2lb per kg, so we paid US$3.63 per pound for lamb. It was worth every cent!

2) Honey

I can’t remember specifically, but I think I paid $6-$7 for a half pound of local honey back in NC.

This week I swung by Ilse’s farm to pick up milk and eggs and grabbed a jar of her honey since I was out. The jar holds 1.25kg of honey, so that’s 2.75lb. I paid $10…or US$8. You can’t beat that with a bat!

3) Produce

Overall, fruits and vegetables are cheaper here if you know where to look. I never buy any produce at grocery stores…the markets and local farmers sell them for heaps cheaper. For example, this past week, one of the local farms – Laugeson’s – was having a “pick your own tomatoes” event. It’s nearing the end of tomato season, and they were giving folks a couple of weeks to come out and glean the fields before they plow them under. You could pick your own tomatoes for $1/kg. That’s US$0.80 per 2.2 lbs… That’s $0.36 per pound! I have oodles of tomatoes frozen now, waiting to be turned into chili and stew this winter.

4) Organic stuff

In the States, I’m pretty sure organic stuff usually ran 50-100% more expensive than its counterparts. Here, though, while organics might be  a tad more expensive, it’s only nominally so. For the most part, organic items really don’t cost much more than non-organics. Baby teething crackers, for instance. A box of regular ones might run me $3…a box of organic ones might only be $3.50. With the exchange rate, that’s almost nothing.

5) Natural candies

I made this find and I’m so stoked about it! My boys can’t have things with artificial dyes, especially red, because they go nuts. I mean bouncing off the walls, could run a power station all by themselves, unbridled energy nuts. So candy is hard to find…and in the States, finding candy with no artificial dyes meant paying out the wazoo. But here, they have this wonderful company called The Natural Confectionary Co, and all of their lollies use natural colors and dyes …like beet juice. And the best part? A bag like this one cost me just NZ$2.45 at The Warehouse. That’s US$1.96!


Hope you enjoyed! And again, sorry about last week. 🙂



  1. Very interesting, Vallere. I enjoy your posts!

  2. So you are going to send us some lolies in our box right 🙂 LOL and you need to pull your list together so we can send you a box soon too!!!!! and I have a stack of pictures ect. to mail you guys soon too!!!! OK I love you and you really stink with all that cheep lamb but I guess you make up for it in gas! LUV YOU

  3. How interesting!

  4. Oh it is so fun to get the perspective of life in NZ through your blog! I always look forward to your posts. I can’t believe that McDs is so much and that coffee makers are not common. That’s really interesting!!!

    As far as the toys, do they have different brands there of things that run you cheaper, or is that the general pricing on them no matter the brand?

    • As far as brands, for the most part they are the same. All of the major brand stuff is here…Transformers, Zhu Zhu Pets, Wii, Fisher Price, Tyco, etc. They also have generic stuff, but we do in the States too, so who knows if those are the same (they are all made in China anyway, right?) and some generic toys are cheep for sure – the Warehouse has a $2 bin and a $5 bin of toys. But all of the brand name stuff is across the board more expensive. A low level Transformer that would have cost us maybe $8 in the States cost us $30 here.

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