New Zealand is a country known for its stunning, beautiful scenery, and with it come various activities bound to keep you outside doing extraordinary things. Backpacking is a popular way to get around New Zealand on a budget and meet the locals while interacting with their culture and sampling some local food.
Whether you’re taking a gap year from school or finding a way to reconnect with nature, you’re going to love backpacking. However, there’s the risk of spending much more than your budget if you’re backpacking through New Zealand.
Therefore, it’s vital to know some tricks and tips that will enable you to travel on a budget. Here’s a list of free activities you can do while backpacking in NZ.
1. Watch the Ocean’s Rango at Cape Reinga
Not many travel destinations will allow you to witness the battle of two oceans. At 165 meters above sea level, a beautiful lookout point at Cape Reinga offers you a heavenly view of the northern area of New Zealand. What’s more, you’re bound to enjoy seeing the dolphins swimming playfully.
🚙 Cape Reinga is 5 hours and 40 minutes from Auckland Central and 2 hours 45 minutes from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
2. Dive With the Fish at Goat Island
The waters surrounding Goat Island are full of breathtaking marine life. Okakari Point Marine Reserve in Auckland is situated on a beautiful coastline that’s chock-full of sea life. Remember to carry your snorkel and mask for the dive.
🚙 The drive from Auckland Central to Goat Island awill take you 1 hour and 10 minutes.
3. Bathe All Year Round at Kerosene Creek
You will find Kerosene Creek 35 km south of Rotorua. Bathe, relax, and enjoy the freshwater stream whenever you want. You can also visit Te Wairoa and explore the Buried Village or hike along the Whakarewarewa Forest Trails.
🚙 The journey is 5 hours and 45 minutes from Wellington Central, 4 hours and 30 minutes from Auckland Central.
4. Take a Ride on the Rere Rock Slide
The Rere Rock Slide is the first rock slide in New Zealand. You will find it right outside Gisborne, an iconic surf town. It is a stunning water park carved over thousands of years where you and your friends can break from backpacking and have some fun.
After the ride, catch the wine trail or sample the rich Maori culture and heritage. Rere Rockslide is only an hour and a half from Rotorua.
5. Challenge Yourself on a One-Day Hike to an Active Volcano
If you’d like to discover what you’re made of, gather some friends and hike together through Tongariro National Park via the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The Tongariro National Park is a World Heritage site, so don’t forget your camera to capture memories of the beautiful scenery.
There’s an active crater to feast your eyes on, steam vents, and lava flows. Enjoy the breathtaking views of colored lakes that will make your hike enjoyable.
👉 If you like hiking, you can also check an article we created recently — Best Walks & Hiking Tracks in New Zealand
6. Enjoy the West Coast of Auckland
Explore the West Coast of Auckland and enjoy the incredible black-sand beaches and picturesque waterfalls. Take a walk to Piha Beach and climb up Lion Rock. Or, you could head to Muriwai and visit the massive gannet colony.
🚙 Auckland’s West Coast is only 50 minutes from the city, but you will enjoy the welcome change of scenery among the caves, streams, and cliffs.
7. Speak to the Stars in Canterbury
You will enjoy experiences that sleeping under the stars on a warm, starry night can’t beat. Here, you will discover wondrous night skies that are both clear yet dark. After stargazing, hang around for a while and enjoy invigorating mountain walks.
🚙 Canterbury is 3 hours away from Queenstown and 4 hours from Christchurch.
8. Mediate at the Blue Pools of Wanaka
The Blue Pools of Wanaka are, without a doubt, one of the bluest in the world. There’s a lot to see in the region, including rainbow and brown trout migrating in the clear pools.
If you have the gear for it, you can kayak, ski, or snowboard at the numerous designated spots.
🚙 The Blue Pools are 50 minutes from Wanaka Township and 2 hours from Queenstown.
9. Chase the Waterfalls at Fiordland
The name Fiordland comes from various waterfalls, dropping numerous meters into the massive fiords. You can enjoy the famous mesmerizing scenery and take a walk through the Milford and Doubtful Sounds.
There are many sights to enjoy that will leave you utterly mesmerized and pleasantly surprised.
If you’re backpacking through New Zealand on a budget, you can take numerous affordable accommodations after enjoying the free activities.
All you need to do is keep your mind open to suggestions from the locals and advice from fellow backpackers. Who knows, you may meet a future travel buddy for your next trip.
👉 Before you go, we created a huge guide made only for backpackers in case you want to check it out — 40 Tips for Backpacking New Zealand