Transport Minister Phil Twyford has been living up to his portfolio name, racking up the biggest bill for the use of Crown limos of any minister bar Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The expenses for MPs and Ministers from 1 January to 31 March show Phil Twyford racked up $15,640 on domestic surface travel, which is predominantly the Crown limo service.

That was well above the average spending of $9650 by Labour ministers on ground travel. Only Ardern's costs on the limos were higher at $23,330.

It was a period in which Twyford outlined plans for light rail around Auckland and boosts for public transport.


Twyford said he was a busy minister in a new Government: "Delivering a $28 billion transport plan for Auckland and building 100,000 affordable homes for Kiwi families to sort out nine years of drift and neglect involves a lot of travel."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Housing Minister Phil Twyford announce the Government's intention to invest $100m into tackling homelessness in this month's Budget.

The next highest user of the Crown BMWs was Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis, who spent $15,358.

Davis also also most expensive minister overall. His domestic travel and accommodation costs combined came to $38,860, while Twyford was just behind on $36,950.

Davis said he was conscious of his travel costs and tried to use low-cost options. He pointed to the travel in his tourism and corrections portfolios and the cost to get to his Northland home.

"I appreciate this is taxpayers' money, and will continue to look at ways I can reduce my costs."

A portion of his limo costs relate to his stints as acting PM, when he has no option but to use the Crown limos in Northland when normally he would drive himself.

National Party leader Simon Bridges spent more than any other MP or minister on domestic flights. Overall he spent $32,300 in his first quarter as leader - $19,000 of which was on domestic flights and $3800 on surface travel. The next highest spenders on domestic flights were Labour Minister Willie Jackson and Shane Jones who spent about $11,000 each.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's domestic costs came to $27,726, of which $23,300 was for Crown limos.


She also had $82,000 on the Parliamentary Service side of her ledger, which pays for costs relating to her role as MP rather than Prime Minister.

That includes some leftover costs from the election campaign when she was Leader of the Opposition.

Ardern also spent $64,500 on international travel.

Ardern does not get the Wellington accommodation allowance of about $10,000 because she lives in Premier House.

The average total expenses for Labour ministers was $26,000 per minister, which is roughly in line with the average spending for National's ministers in the first quarter of 2016, of $23,400 a head.

The third highest spender was NZ First's Regional Development Minister Shanes Jones, who spent $35,366.

At the other end of the scale Education Minister Chris Hipkins was the least expensive minister, notching up just $8219 in travel and accommodation costs.

Education Ministers usually travel around schools and other educational institutions a lot, but Hipkins spent just $1700 on domestic flights, indicating he was largely staying around Wellington, possibly because of his role as Leader of the House.

The second lowest was NZ First leader Winston Peters, who cost just $10,108 domestically although as foreign minister he also had $26,000 in international travel.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson was also frugal, spending $13,900.

The lowest spender on the VIP cars was Police Minister Stuart Nash, who notched up just $4969. The reason included his practice of going on roadies in rental cars with Police Commissioner Mike Bush when he visited police stations in the regions, using a rental car rather than a Crown limo.

Meanwhile, for Shane Jones it was clearly a matter of once bitten, twice shy when it came to the office credit card. Jones was famously stung for the use of the credit card in the previous Labour government for items such as porn in a hotel room.

He does not have his own ministerial credit card this time round and the office card shows even the staff are apparently determined to make amends – a staff member caught the bus from the airport in Auckland to meet Jones for meetings in town – a return trip that cost $34 and saved the taxpayer about $100.

In another oddity, Damien O'Connor's office card included a $10 charge for toothpaste at the Tuscany Gardens Motor Lodge in Nelson.


(Domestic costs only from January 1 to March 31)


Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis: $38,860


Transport Minister Phil Twyford: $36,960


Regional Development Minister Shane Jones: $35,366


National Party leader Simon Bridges: $32,314


Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri: $31,657

*Non-Wellington based ministers' expenses include an accommodation allowance of about $10,000.