The screws may be tightening on the diplomats' budget, but the ministers who go overseas most frequently aren't feeling the pinch, judging from the most recent credit card releases.
The latest release of ministerial credit card details - covering the first three months of this year - show taxpayers have paid to wash Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman's underwear in Brussels, for Foreign Minister Murray McCully's party at Trader Jacks in the Cook Islands, and for $300 cabin bags and $490 laundry bills for Trade Minister Tim Groser's staff.
Mr McCully, Mr Groser and Dr Coleman had the highest ministerial international travel bills for the first three months of the year.
Mr McCully spent a total of $110,637, Mr Groser $87,970 and Dr Coleman $42,012.
Prime Minister John Key's international travel over the same period cost $29,501.
The credit card statements revealed by the Department of Internal Affairs show Mr Groser ran up a $10,829 hotel bill for a week in Switzerland - about $1345 a night. His staff member's costs were more frugal at about $460 a night, totalling $4017. That included a $490 laundry bill; Mr Groser's laundry bill was $191.
Mr McCully's credit card for the first three months of the year shows he hosted a $630 dinner at the Hilton in Addis Ababa in January, and a $473 party at Trader Jacks in the Cook Islands in February, attended by Cook Island government ministers.
Hotel bills for him and a staff member included $3800 for two nights at the Hilton in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, for the African Union Summit.
He went to to Ethiopia as a side trip while visiting Qatar and Dubai - where one night at the Grand Hyatt cost $3935 for himself and a staff member.
The receipts also show Mr McCully took All Blacks jerseys as gifts for foreign dignitaries - several were bought at a discount rate of $190 each.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is being restructured in a bid to cut costs.
Some overseas posts are being closed, and diplomats are being laid off.
Mr McCully said he believed his costs were "appropriate in the circumstances". New Zealand was a small country that relied on trade with other countries.
"While we need to be economical in our approach in these times, we still need to be out there representing New Zealand's interests."
The dinner in Ethiopia was to help get support for New Zealand's bid for a seat on the Security Council and was attended by the Botswanan Foreign Minister, UN officials in Ethiopia and several African ambassadors.
Laundry costs also appeared frequently on Dr Coleman's receipts.
His hotel bills were more modest that Mr McCully's, but he made more use of laundry services.
He had a $56 laundry charge on the first day of his 10-day trip to Melbourne, Britain and Belgium, followed three days later by an $89 charge at a London hotel and a day after that a further $45 in Brussels, where the receipt listed two shirts, two pairs of socks and two pairs of underpants.
There was some frugality. In South Africa, Mr Groser's staffer stockpiled bottled water and bought two cheap bottles of wine - including a bottle of Fat Bastard chardonnay for $7 - from a supermarket in South Africa.
Dr Coleman ate in his room one evening in Brussels, ordering a hamburger and diet Coke.
Most ministers have now handed in their credit cards after several MPs from Labour and National were caught out misusing them and rules were tightened.
Several ministers still have office credit cards, but they are primarily used for international travel.
Ministerial Services is also policing spending more thoroughly - including contacting hotels or places overseas to try to obtain copies of lost receipts.
Despite warnings about the need to provide full receipts for all purchases, several ministerial offices were still forgetting.
Mr McCully's office was frequently chased up about lost receipts and Hekia Parata's office had also misplaced them.
Ministers' expenses, and the travel and accommodation expenses of all MPs, are made public every quarter.
Ministers' high life
Foreign Minister Murray McCully
* $3,797.27 for two rooms (one for staff) at the Addis Ababa Hilton Hotel in Ethiopia for two nights. Included about $6 for entertainment.
* $3,935 for two rooms at Grand Hyatt in Dubai for one night.
Trade Minister Tim Groser
* One week at Hotel Intercontinental in Geneva at $1,345 a night: $10,829
* plus staff member for one week in same hotel @$460 a night: $4,017.19, including laundry bill of $491.
* $31.56 at Checkers supermarket, South Africa for bottled water and one bottle of Fat Bastard Chardonnay ($7).
* $300 for cabin bag for staff member because "normal issued cabin bags
not fit for purpose for overseas travel.''
Jonathan Coleman: Trip to Australia, United Kingdom and Belgium 27
January to 6 February.
* Laundry charges at Sofitel Melbourne ($56) on 28 Jan, The Thistle in London
($89) on 31 Jan and $45 at Sofitel in Brussels to launder two shirts, two pairs of socks
and two pairs of underpants.
- $72.50 for 'planning meeting' for staff at Juniper Restaurant in Wellington.
- Pounamu from Iwi Art as leaving gift for staff member: $100
- gift from Kura Gallery as farewell gift for staff: $100
- Staff farewell dinner for 13 at Dragon Restaurant: $195