Backpacking New Zealand | The Ultimate 2022 Guide (UPDATED)

New Zealand Guide

Backpacking in New Zealand is to venture into a tiny country full of incredible landscapes. And crystal blue lakes, small towns, and epic mountains.

I had high hopes before traveling to New Zealand for the first time. The country not only meets my expectations but beat them. Since then I have returned to New Zealand many times and each time I am more blown away by what the country offers.

New Zealand is a country made for travelers and backpackers. Let’s discover some of the best New Zealand travel tips and guides to help you plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Reasons to Visit New Zealand

There are many reasons people might choose to backpack in New Zealand. Some may look for an outdoor adventure. While others may simply want to experience the stunning natural scenery and diverse culture that the country offers. Whatever the reason, New Zealand is a great destination for backpackers. Some of the top reasons to visit New Zealand include:

  • The amazing scenery, which includes rugged mountains, pristine forests, and stunning coastline
  • The great outdoor adventures available, such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking
  • The friendly locals and diverse culture
  • The affordable prices

Backpacking in New Zealand is a great way to experience all that the country offers. From the stunning natural scenery to the great outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone in New Zealand. 

Things to Know Before Go Backpacking in New Zealand

There are a few things you will need to consider when planning your backpacking trip in New Zealand. First, you will need to decide where you want to go and what you want to see. There is a lot of ground to cover in New Zealand, so make sure you have a good idea of what you want to do.

Another important thing to consider is your budget. Backpacking can be affordable, but it will depend on the type of accommodation and activities you choose. We can find some of the best backpacker hostels in New Zealand in larger cities, such as Auckland and Wellington.

Finally, don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure! New Zealand is the perfect place for outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and biking. There are also plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities on offer. Such as whitewater rafting and skydiving. So get ready to explore this amazing country! 

Getting to New Zealand

There are many ways to get to New Zealand, depending on your starting point. The most popular routes are from the United States, Europe, and Australia. And Air New Zealand services them all. 

You can use Kayak Explore to find decent flights. 

Backpacking New Zealand Route

The route for backpacking in New Zealand is pretty simple. You can start in Auckland in the north and make your way down to the very bottom of the island in Invercargill. You can either go clockwise or counterclockwise around the island, but the most popular route seems to go clockwise. Most travelers start on the North Island. Then make their way down to New Zealand’s South Island. 

  • Auckland- Has great Architecture
  • Taupo
  • Napier
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch – A great city for a weekend getaway.
  • Queenstown
  • Te Anau
  • Invercargill 

Backpacking New Zealand Costs

Backpacking in New Zealand can be done on a budget. Or a more luxurious route, depending on your travel style and preferences. Overall, New Zealand is a relatively expensive country to backpack in, with costs averaging around $50-$60 per day. This includes your main expenses. Such as accommodation, food, and transportation. But does not include extras such as entrance fees, activities, and souvenirs.

If you’re looking to save money, there are a few ways to do so. Try camping or Couchsurfing instead of staying in hostels. And other basic things, like cooking your food instead of eating out. Also, take public transportation instead of renting a car. By doing a bit of research and planning, it’s possible to backpack in New Zealand on a budget. 

Here are some sample costs for a 10-day trip to New Zealand:

• Transport: $100

• Accommodation: $300

• Food: $100

• Activities: $100

Total: $400 

How to Travel to New Zealand on a Budget

New Zealand Hikes

There are a few ways to travel to New Zealand on a budget. The most important way is to be flexible with your dates and itinerary. There are also a few ways to save money on transportation, food, and accommodation.

Flexible Dates and Itinerary

The most important way to save money while traveling in New Zealand is to be flexible with your dates and itinerary. New Zealand is a popular destination, and flights, buses, and hostels can be expensive during the summer months. Consider traveling during the off-season (March-May or September-November) to save money. Be flexible with your itinerary and consider choosing cheaper activities. Such as hiking and camping, instead of expensive activities like bungee jumping and skydiving.

Transportation

There are a few ways to save money on transportation in New Zealand. The most affordable way to travel around the country is by bus. Kiwi Experience and InterCity are two of the most popular bus companies in New Zealand. Both companies offer passes that allow you to travel around the country for a set price. If you are traveling on a budget, it is also possible to hitchhike. Although it can be risky, hitch 

New Zealand is an expensive country to travel in, but it is possible to do it on a budget. Here are a few tips:

Camp -Camping is a great way to save money while traveling in New Zealand. There are many campsites throughout the country, and many of them are affordable.

Cook your food – Eating out in New Zealand can be expensive, so cook your food. There are many supermarkets and grocery stores in the country, so you will find everything you need.

Use public transportation – New Zealand has a good public transportation system, and using it is a great way to save money.

Visit free attractions -There are many free attractions in New Zealand, so be sure to take advantage of them. Some of the most popular ones are the beaches and the national parks. 

BEST Tour COMPANIES IN NEW ZEALAND

Haka Tours – Haka Tours is the number 1 tour company in New Zealand. And great from small tours. 

I’ve tried many tour companies in New Zealand. Haka tours are handed down the best! Let me tell you why in my Haka Tour Review

Intrepid Travel – One of the top tour companies out there. Just check out our Intrepid Travel Review. 

Kiwi Experience – Similar to Haka Tours (I prefer Haka Tours). But Kiwi also offers day trips. 

G Adventures – Another one of the top tour companies in New Zealand. Nah, the world. You can check out why in our G Adventures Review. 

Best Time to Travel to New Zealand

New Zealand is a year-round destination, with summer (December-February) being the most popular time to visit. Their Summer Months are opposite the Northern Hemisphere. Spring (September-November) and autumn (March-May) are also great times to travel when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. And (June-August) can be cold but offer discounted rates on accommodations and activities. 

What to Pack for New Zealand

When packing for a trip to New Zealand, it is important to consider the climate and the type of activities that you will participate in. New Zealand is a country with diverse climates, so pack accordingly. The North Island is warm and tropical, while the South Island is cooler and more temperate. Be sure to pack clothes and gear for both warm and cool weather.

In addition, New Zealand is a country with lots of outdoor activities, so be sure to pack accordingly. You will need to pack clothes and gear for hiking, camping, climbing, and other outdoor activities.

Here is a basic packing list for a trip to New Zealand:

  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Sweatshirt
  • Jacket
  • Hiking boots
  • Camping gear
  • Hiking gear
  • Clothing for cold weather
  • Clothing for warm weather
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Multi-tool
  • Camera 

Best Backpacking Trips In New Zealand

Backpacking in New Zealand is a popular choice for young people and adventure seekers. And for good reason – the country is home to some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the world. With towering mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, and miles of pristine coastline, New Zealand is a nature lover’s paradise. Add to that a well-developed infrastructure. And a wealth of activities and attractions, and it’s easy to see why backpacking in New Zealand is so popular.

If you’re looking for the best backpacking trips in New Zealand, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five of our favorite routes for backpacking in New Zealand:

Freedom Camping or Otherwise – Camping In New Zealand 

Camping in New Zealand is a popular way to see the country. There are many places to camp and the freedom to camp pretty much anywhere makes it a popular option. It is important to be aware of the rules and regulations around camping in New Zealand. As well as the etiquette so that you can enjoy your camping trip with no issues.

Camping Regulations in New Zealand

There are a few regulations around camping in New Zealand that you need to be aware of. First, it is illegal to camp in a national park without a permit. This includes camping in the backcountry, as well as camping in a designated campsite. It is also illegal to camp within 200 meters of a road, or within 100 meters of a stream or river.

Camping Etiquette in New Zealand

When camping in New Zealand, it is important to follow the country’s camping etiquette. This includes leaving the campsite in the same condition as you found it, keeping noise levels down, and not disturbing wildlife. It is also important to take your rubbish with you when you leave, as there are no facilities to dispose of rubbish at most campsites. 

Is it safe to Travel to New Zealand?

Yes, it is safe to travel to New Zealand. However, as with any destination, there are some things to keep in mind. New Zealand is a safe place to travel, but there are some things you should know before you go. Petty crime occurs, so be sure to keep your belongings safe. There are also some areas of the country that are more remote and may be less safe, so be sure to research your destination before you go. 

Campervan Hire In New Zealand

There are so many amazing things to see and do when backpacking in New Zealand and the best way to see as much as possible is by renting a campervan! Wicked Campers offer affordable and fun campervan rentals in New Zealand with a variety of different van styles to choose from. With a Wicked Campervan, you can explore New Zealand’s stunning landscape on your schedule and make memories that will last a lifetime! 

THINGS TO DO IN NEW ZEALAND

Backpacking New Zealand

Tongariro Crossing – Hiking Through Mordor

The Tongariro Crossing is a hike on the North Island of New Zealand that is known for its stunning volcanic landscape. It takes six hours to complete the hike, which is 12 miles long. The hike begins at the Mangatepopo trailhead and ends at the Ketetahi trailhead. Hikers can see the three craters of the volcano on the hike across the active volcano. The hike is considered moderate in difficulty. But it is important to be aware of the potential dangers, including ash explosions and landslides. 

The Tongariro northern circuit takes around 8 hours to hike. Plus, time to stop and take in all that beauty.

What is it like to trek the Tongariro Crossing (aka Mordor)? Easily one the of best day hikes in New Zealand.

Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound

Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage Site in southwest New Zealand. And is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. We know the park for its dramatic scenery, including its many fiords (inland waterways that glaciers have carved). The most famous of these is Milford Sound, which is often called the “8th Wonder of the World”.

The best way to explore Fiordland National Park is by hiking the many trails that crisscross the park. There are trails for all levels of hikers, from easy strolls to strenuous hikes. One of the most popular trails is the Milford Track, which leads from the town of Te Anau to Milford Sound. The track is 53 km (33 miles) long and takes four days to hike.

If you’re not interested in hiking, you can also explore the park by boat. Many of the fiords can be explored on scenic cruises, which offer magnificent views of the park’s dramatic landscape. 

Swimming with Dolphins in Kaikoura

Swimming with dolphins is one of the best travel experiences of my life. Even if a baby great white crashed the party. (Read Swimming with Dolphins in Kaikoura)

Tour Hobbiton

If you’re looking for amazing and unique backpacking in New Zealand experience. Then consider touring Hobbiton while in New Zealand. Hobbiton is the set of the famous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies and is now open to the public as a tourist attraction. It’s a beautiful and serene location and is definitely worth the visit if you’re a fan of movies or fantasy. 

Take a journey to Middle Earth, have a pint at the Green Dragon, and discover if visiting the shire is worth the price of admission. This is what it is like to visit Hobbiton (Read more on Visiting the Shire)

Visit the Best Places Where The Hobbit Was Filmed

Some of the most popular backpacker destinations in New Zealand. Include the North Island’s Tongariro National Park, and the South Island’s Milford Sound. And the country’s capital city of Wellington.

They shot the Hobbit films in various locations around New Zealand. Including the forests of Matamata and the rolling hills of Waikato. Fans can visit where Hobbit was filmed, and these filming locations showcase some of the most iconic natural sites in New Zealand. Many tour companies offer Hobbit-themed itineraries. 

The Hauntingly Beautiful Glow Worms Caves of Waitomo

Darkness surrounded us. Then, as our eyes slowly adjusted, dim blue lights popped up everywhere one after another. I gazed, stunned by the simple beauty, watching the glowing worms outline every bump and crevice in the walls. (Read about Visiting the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand)

Stewart Island

Stewart Island is a great place to visit if you want to get away from the crowds. It’s a remote island in the south of New Zealand, and it’s a great place for hiking and bird-watching. 

Skydiving in New Zealand

Skydiving in New Zealand is something that should be at the top of every adventurer’s bucket list.

All my determination went into not shouting, “Hey Beardman, STOP scooting us to the edge of the door!”. Looking down, I zeroed in on my legs dangling 15,000 feet above the world. (Read about Skydiving in New Zealand)

Abel Tasman National Park

New Zealand is an amazing country to backpack, and the Abel Tasman National Park is one of its most beautiful areas. We know the park for its stunning coastal scenery, its lush vegetation, and its many hiking trails. One of the best ways to experience the park is to hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a popular multi-day trail that winds its way along the coast. Other great hikes in the park include the Mt. Richmond Forest Park Track and the Waterfront Track. 

Hiking Franz Josef Glacier

If you’re looking for an amazing hiking and backpacking destination, look no further than New Zealand. With its dramatic landscapes and pristine trails, New Zealand is a hikers’ paradise. Some of the best hikes in the country include the Milford Track, the Routeburn Track, and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, check out the Franz Josef Glacier. This challenging hike will take you up to the glacier itself, giving you stunning views of this natural wonder. 

lake Wanaka

There are many great places to backpack in New Zealand, but one of the most popular spots is the area around Lake Wanaka. The scenery is stunning, with rugged mountains and pristine lakes, and there are plenty of trails to choose from. There are also plenty of small towns and villages in the area, so you can easily find a place to stay or get a meal. 

lake Tekapo

Start your adventure in the stunning town of Tekapo, in the heart of the Southern Alps. From here, you can explore the surrounding mountains and lakes. Or venture further afield into the pristine wilderness of the Fiordland National Park. No matter what you choose to do, you’re guaranteed to see some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.

lake Marian

One of the best places to start is in the Otago region in the country’s south. Here, you’ll find the incredible Lake Marian, a picturesque alpine lake that’s perfect for a day hike or overnight backpacking trip. The trails around the lake are well-marked and relatively easy, making it a great option for beginner hikers.

mount aspiring national park

Looking for a breathtaking backpacking destination? look no further than Mount Aspiring National Park in New Zealand. With its soaring peaks and pristine alpine valleys, the park is a hikers’ paradise. Be sure to plan your trip during the warmer months, as they covered the park in snow for much of the year. 

hooker valley

The Hooker Valley Track is a popular backcountry route in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, on the South Island of New Zealand. The track follows the Hooker River from the Hermitage Hotel to the Hooker Glacier.

The hike is a moderate to difficult 8-mile (13-km) walk that takes 3-4 hours to complete. Hooker Valley route is well-marked and relatively easy to follow. But requires some basic mountaineering skills, such as using an ice axe and crampons. The hike offers stunning views of the Hooker Valley and the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and rivers. 

Heaphy track

The Heaphy Track is a 78-kilometer-long tramping track on New Zealand’s South Island. It is the only track in New Zealand that traverses two National Park, Kahurangi, and Nelson Lakes.

The track begins at Golden Bay and finishes at Lewis Pass, on the main trunk road between Christchurch and Nelson. It takes four to five days to walk the entire track, or three days if you are fit and have a good tramping experience.

The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and is well serviced with huts and campsites. It is a popular track, so it is best to book huts and campsites in advance. 

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is a national park in the Tasman Region of New Zealand. The New Zealand Department of Conservation administers the park.

The park is in the northern part of the South Island, stretching from the northwest to the southeast. The park contains two large lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa. And is bounded by the Lewis Pass National Highway on the northwest, the Heaphy Track on the northeast, and the Arthur River on the southeast.

They established the park in 1950 and cover an area of 1,073 square kilometers.

The park is popular for backpacking and tramping. With several walking tracks leading into the park from the highway and the surrounding area. The most popular track is the Robert Ridge Track, which leads from the highway to the summit of Mount Robert. 

Fox Glacier New Zealand

Fox Glacier, in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island, is a popular destination for backpacking. The glacier is 13 kilometers long. And the surrounding area is full of hiking trails, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. Backpackers can find campsites and hostels near the glacier. And several tour companies offer guided trips on the glacier. 

lake te Anau

If you are looking for a breathtaking and serene backpacking location, look no further than New Zealand’s Lake Te Anau. This glistening lake is in the Fiordland National Park and is surrounded by soaring mountains and pristine forests. Hiking and camping are the perfect way to enjoy the natural beauty of this area, and there are plenty of trails to choose from. You may also want to spend some time exploring the lake itself, which is a magnificent spot for swimming, kayaking, and fishing. 

Mt Cook

One of the most popular hiking trails in New Zealand is the climb to the summit of Mount Cook. At 3,724 meters (12,218 feet), this is the highest mountain in New Zealand and offers some of the most stunning views in the country. The trail to the summit is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long and takes most hikers between six and eight hours to complete.

Or, if you are interested in camping, the Kepler Track is a 60-kilometer (37.3 miles) hike. It takes four to five days to complete and offers some of the best camping spots in New Zealand. You also have the famed Mueller Hut.

No matter what type of hike you are interested in, New Zealand is the perfect place 

For more on the best things to do in New Zealand, check out our post. And get the most out of your trip with your New Zealand Itinerary.

Some Unique Experiences In New Zealand

Backpacking in New Zealand

There are plenty of unique experiences to be had while backpacking in New Zealand. From hiking through some of the most epic landscapes in the world to enjoying a pint of local beer in a small town pub. There is something for everyone in this amazing country. Here are just a few of the unique experiences that you can enjoy while backpacking in New Zealand:

Hiking the Milford Track

This 53-kilometer hike through Fiordland National Park is often called the “finest walk in the world”. The track winds its way through the rainforest, and past thundering waterfalls. And along the edges of rugged mountains, culminating in a hike through the entrance to Milford Sound. This is an experience you will never forget.

Taking a cruise of Milford Sound

If you don’t have time for the full Milford Track hike, you can still enjoy the beauty of Milford Sound with a cruise. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most stunning places in the world, and a cruise is a perfect way to experience its majesty.

Experiencing Maori culture

One of the unique aspects of New Zealand culture is the prevalence of the Maori culture and language. There are many opportunities to experience traditional Maori culture. Including Maori villages, performances, and cultural experiences.

Hiking the Milford Track

This 53.5 km hike is one of the most popular in New Zealand and takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the country.

Kayaking the Abel Tasman Coast

This is a beautiful kayaking route that takes you past golden sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush green forests.

Climbing Mount Cook

At 3,724 meters, Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand and offers some challenging climbing routes.

Stargazing in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

This reserve is the largest dark sky reserve in the world and is perfect for star-gazing enthusiasts.

White Water Rafting on the Kawarau River

This is one of the most popular white water rafting routes in the country and offers some exciting rapids. 

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a popular tourist destination on the North Island of New Zealand. We know the caves for their population of glowworms, Arachnocampa Luminosa, which emit a bright blue light.

The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and were first discovered by Māori tribes who used them for religious ceremonies.

The first recorded European exploration of the caves was in 1887 by English surveyor Fred Mace.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are open to the public via tours are available which include a boat ride through the caves. 

Festivals In New Zealand

There are many festivals celebrated in New Zealand. Some of the most popular festivals include:

Auckland Arts Festival

This festival is held annually in Auckland and showcases a variety of performing arts, including theatre, music, and dance.

Wellington Jazz Festival

This jazz festival, held each year in Wellington and features performances by some of the world’s top jazz musicians.

Dunedin Fringe Festival

This arts festival, held each year in Dunedin and features a variety of performances, including theatre, dance, and music.

Christchurch Arts Festival

 This arts festival, held annually in Christchurch. And features a variety of performances, including theatre, dance, and music.

New Zealand International Film Festival

This film festival is held annually in Auckland, Wellington. And Christchurch features a selection of the best new international films. 

Backpacking around New Zealand is an amazing experience. It is a country I fell in love with so much that I moved there for a year. 

This guide will get you started, but there are other resources like the Backpacking New Zealand Reddit. 

I help that helps you plan your trip backpacking in New Zealand. 

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