25 Best Backpacker Hacks for New Zealand

Best backpacker hacks

✅ Last Update: Apr 22, 2024 @ 10:17 am

🎒 Introduction to The Best Backpacker Hacks

New Zealand is a backpacker’s paradise, offering breathtaking landscapes, adventure activities, and a vibrant culture.

As a budget traveler, you must maximize your experience and stretch your funds while exploring this stunning country.

This article presents the 25 best backpacker hacks for an unforgettable New Zealand adventure, making your trip unforgettable without breaking the bank.

1. Travel During The Shoulder Seasons

Consider traveling during the shoulder seasons, which are the periods just before or after the peak tourist season.

Prices for accommodation and activities tend to be lower, and you’ll have a better chance of securing deals or discounts.

Plus, you’ll enjoy smaller crowds and a more intimate experience with nature and attractions.

travel seasons

2. Utilize Freedom Camping

Take advantage of New Zealand’s freedom camping opportunities, where you can camp for free in designated areas. Be sure to follow the regulations and respect the environment by leaving no trace.

Look for information on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website and use camping apps to find suitable spots for overnight stays.

🏕 For more information about freedom camping, you can check out the following article: Best Places for Freedom Camping in New Zealand

freedom camping

3. Cook Your Own Meals

Eating out can quickly add up, so opt for self-catering whenever possible. Stock up on groceries at supermarkets or local markets and prepare meals in hostels or campervans. 

Not only will this save you money, but it also allows you to savor the local produce and flavors of New Zealand.

tip for cooking

4. Embrace Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is a popular and safe way to get around New Zealand. Use your judgment and take necessary precautions, such as hitchhiking in pairs, using common sense, and communicating your destination.

You’ll meet friendly locals, save money on transportation, and have unique stories to share.


5. Take Advantage of Discount Cards

Invest in discount cards, such as the BBH (Budget Backpacker Hostels) card or the YHA (Youth Hostels Association) card, which offer discounts on accommodation, transportation, and activities.

These cards can help you save significant money throughout your journey.

Accommodation discounts

6. Explore Free Activities

New Zealand is teeming with natural beauty and free activities. Hike through national parks, stroll along pristine beaches, visit free museums and galleries, and enjoy scenic walks.

Take advantage of the stunning landscapes without spending a dime.

free activities

7. Purchase a SIM Card

Buying a local SIM card will provide affordable data and calling options, enabling you to stay connected and navigate using GPS applications.

It also allows you to take advantage of local deals and discounts by receiving notifications and updates.

sim card

8. Travel With a Group

Group travel can help split accommodation costs, transportation, and groceries. 

Consider joining like-minded travelers to share expenses and create memorable experiences together.

Travel in group

9. Volunteer or Work in Exchange for Accommodation

Many hostels, farms, and organizations offer volunteer opportunities in exchange for free accommodation and sometimes meals.

Look for work exchange programs or volunteer positions that align with your interests and skills.

volunter accommodation

10. Rent Gear Instead of Buying

If you plan on engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, consider renting gear instead of purchasing it.

Rental shops are available in most towns and cities, allowing you to access the necessary equipment without the hefty price tag.

renting gear

11. Use Public Transportation

New Zealand has an extensive network of buses, trains, and ferries. Utilize public transportation for long-distance travel between cities and towns.

It’s often cheaper than renting a car or campervan and allows relaxing and enjoying the scenic routes.

For those seeking the best alternative in New Zealand to explore the islands via bus or curated experiences, we highly recommend Stray Travels. 

They stand out as the top choice for travelers looking to navigate and discover the region’s beauty seamlessly.

🚌 Check Out The Stray Travels Website

stray travels

12. Rent a Campervan

Consider renting a campervan or a self-contained vehicle. This provides both accommodation and transportation, allowing you to explore at your own pace while saving money on lodging costs.

🚐 You can also consider checking out the following post before renting a campervan: 17 Best Tips for Renting a Campervan in New Zealand

tips for renting

13. Stay in Hostels

Hostels are budget-friendly accommodations that offer shared dormitories or private rooms.

They are affordable and provide an opportunity to meet fellow travelers, exchange tips and stories, and make lifelong friendships.

For booking the cheapest deals, we can recommend HostelWorld. Their search engine has weekly special deals and highly competitive rates.

🏣 Find them on the following link: HostelWorld – Booking Deals


14. Visit Local Markets

Explore local markets for fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delicious street food at reasonable prices. 

Engaging with local vendors and artisans will give you a glimpse into New Zealand’s culture and culinary delights.

Local markets

15. Use Ride-Sharing Apps

Consider using ride-sharing apps like Uber or local alternatives to save money on transportation within cities.

Sharing a ride with others in the same direction can significantly reduce costs.

nz apps

16. Take Advantage of Happy Hours

Many bars and restaurants offer happy hour specials where you can enjoy discounted drinks and meals.

Research local establishments and use these promotions to save money while indulging in New Zealand’s food and drink scene.

happy hours

17.  Pack for Changing Weather

Pack adaptable clothing for New Zealand’s varied weather, including layers for temperature shifts. Prioritize sun protection with sunglasses and high SPF.

Choose comfortable footwear for urban and outdoor exploration. Include compact essentials like a daypack, umbrella, and swimwear.

Safeguard electronics with waterproof covers, and keep local currency handy.

packing list

18. Book Activities in Advance

Maximize your savings on activities throughout New Zealand by leveraging the BookMe platform. Enjoy discounts of up to 70% based on the advance booking of your desired activities.

Whether you’re an early bird or a spontaneous adventurer, BookMe offers substantial savings, ensuring you get the best value for your experiences.

🪂 Explore the exciting array of discounted activities and tours they have to offer by visiting BookMe.co.nz

bookme website

19. Take Advantage of Public Wi-Fi

Utilize free public Wi-Fi available in cafés, libraries, and visitor centers to stay connected without incurring data charges.

Plan your activities, check maps, and communicate with friends and family using these Wi-Fi hotspots.

free internet

20. Pack Light

Traveling light saves you money on baggage fees and provides flexibility and ease of movement. 

Pack only the essentials, and consider versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched.

Packing light

21. Research Free Camping Options

In addition to freedom camping, research free camping options in specific regions.

Some local communities or landowners allow travelers to camp for free or at a minimal cost on their property.

camping options

22. Take Advantage of Backpacker Discounts

Many businesses offer discounts specifically for backpackers. Look for signs or inquire at establishments to see if they offer any promotions or deals for budget travelers.

👉 Explore exclusive deals and content from a curated list of businesses with Kiwilanders. For more information, visit: Kiwilanders New Zealand


23. Use Travel Apps

Download travel apps that provide information on accommodation, transportation, activities, and discounts.

These apps can help you navigate the country, find the best deals, and discover hidden gems.

travel apps

24. Follow Local Etiquette

Respect local customs and traditions when interacting with New Zealanders. Politeness, courtesy, and observing cultural norms will go a long way in creating positive connections and experiences.


25. Embrace Outdoor Adventures

New Zealand’s natural wonders are a playground for outdoor activities. Embrace hiking, biking, swimming, and other adventures that don’t require significant expenditures.

Explore national parks, go on nature walks, and soak in the beauty of the landscapes.

outdoor adventures

💬 If you need more backpacking tips, we have created a different guide with more hack — you can find it here: 40 Tips for Backpacking New Zealand

Thank you, and may your travels be safe and enriching! ✈️🌄


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Travel Cars NZ is a platform where private sellers and car dealers can list their campervans, backpacker cars, vans, wagons and other types of cars for sale all around New Zealand. General and useful information about converted vans and small campervans for sale is available at the TCNZ blog.