New Zealand is a world filled with adventure. Nevertheless, you have to do all the necessary research and planning to ensure that you fulfill all your needs for the vacation of a lifetime.
Besides, unless you’ve been there before, the research process may be long and tedious. That’s why we’re here to help you learn all the fantastic tricks and tips that will enable you to have the time of your life in the land of the long cloud.
1. Be on the lookout for Bargains
When shopping in New Zealand ALWAYS look for specials. Loyalty cards and subscriptions have the potential to save you loads of cash with discounts on groceries and even fuel. With only 3 major supermarket chains it pays to have loyalty cards for each of them, they are free and give you loads of rewards and savings with an average of 6 cents off at the petrol pump or general grocery savings.
Savings don’t stop at the supermarket though, deal websites like BookMe, Grabone, and Groupon all offer a variety of splurge items at great deals so keep a look on those sites.
2. Make A Budget and Stick to It
A budget is the focal point of any backpacking trip. Having one ensures that you take care of priorities and get an idea of when your cash is starting to run out. You can track your daily expenditure and make adjustments when you’re going to do additional activities.
3. Buy or Rent a Vehicle
If you are staying for longer than 3 months, it might pay to buy a vehicle or campervan. Here at Travel Cars NZ Ltd., we have a variety of backpacker cars, campervans, and self-contained vehicles for sale at the best prices around. And to top it off we offer fair buy-back agreements that will give you peace of mind and freedom for the duration of your stay.
For buying you can check our homepage where you can find vehicles for sale all around New Zealand: Cars & Campervans for Sale in New Zealand
→ If you are looking to buy or rent a car or campervan in the Auckland area you can contact us directly via Whatsapp at +64 22 177 40 90 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Find Work
Contrary to popular belief, backpacking can become an expensive affair. But, to make some extra money and help your budget stretch a little longer, you can try seasonal jobs. During the summer months, you will find plenty of customer care, bartender, and fruit-picking jobs. It is an excellent way of earning your way through the land of the Kiwis, but you also get to meet new people and learn more about their culture.
→ If you are coming to New Zealand with a WHV Visa we created a post about the most popular WHV jobs in New Zealand, you can check it out here: 10 Most Popular Working Holiday Jobs in New Zealand
5. Don’t Follow the Wind
It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of New Zealand once you land in Auckland. Don’t get stuck in a hotel or hire a car there as it may be a bit more expensive than in other areas. Instead, start your backpacking adventure in the South then work your way up to Auckland when you are near the end of your trip.
6. Be Social
Traveling alone is an exhilarating experience and one that will help you forge your own independence and confidence that will equip you for the rest of your life, but it can get lonely so make some friends along the way. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a stranger or hang out in backpacker lodges to meet a few people on the same journey as you.
Kiwis are a friendly bunch so you will have no shortage of friends in NZ and with it being such a melting pot of culture you will be surprised at how many different nationals you will have around you from the moment you arrive.
On Travel Cars NZ we have a Backpacker Network we created on Facebook, plenty of groups only made for backpackers coming to NZ with thousands of members and over 200 new members joining every day. Check it out here: 8 Most Join Groups in New Zealand
7. Ideal Accommodation
There are plenty of options for people who aren’t sold on the idea of living in their campervans for months. If you’re interested in backpacker lodges or hotels, there are plenty of those in New Zealand. One of the most famous living arrangements for backpackers in New Zealand is baches: low-maintenance holiday homes that are perfect for holidays and long weekends.
8. Be Always Safe
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if Kiwi land is one of the safest places in the world, you have to be aware of the potential dangers of backpacking. Get to know about the safety measures you should put in place like not hitchhiking by yourself. Always tell a trusted person about your plans and when you will be back home after an adventure-filled day.
If you meet anyone you met on Tinder, make sure that you’re meeting in a public place to ensure you’re safe at all times.
9. Layer Up
The weather in New Zealand isn’t something you trust, and it’s possible to experience all four seasons within the same 24-hour period. Be smart and always pack extra layers of clothing.
Make sure to carry your windproof clothing with you if you’re going on a hike. Some thermal clothing will keep away the cold too. Even if you’re going to be outdoors for just a few hours, a hoody is an essential piece of clothing that you don’t want to leave behind.
10. You have to Hike
Why would you ever go to New Zealand on a backpacker trip and not hike? Any backpacker should be happy to visit Middle-earth and experience the different landscapes that it has to offer.
No matter where you are in New Zealand, there’s bound to be a hiking opportunity that shows up. Make sure that you get yourself a good pair of hiking shoes because you don’t want knock-offs to embarrass you in the middle of a hike.
11. Make Sure you Book Directly
As you go along your adventure, you must have opportunities to save as much cash as possible. Don’t get an agent to make any booking for you. Instead, you want to make sure that you book all your hostels, activities, and transport directly with the provider. It will be cheaper for you if you book directly with the company, and if you do get any discounts online, most companies will be happy to match your price.
12. Prepare Yourself for Less Connectivity
If you’re used to fast internet speeds and WiFi hotspots everywhere you go, you should be prepared to experience a big difference in New Zealand. The internet speeds aren’t fast, but it’s an aspect you will be happy to experience. There are so many other exciting things to do in New Zealand that don’t require you to be hunched over a computer browsing the net. If anything, you should be prepared to spend a lot more time without your phone as you immerse yourself in different activities and meet new people.
13. EFTPOS Cards Go a Long Way
EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale)cards are debit cards that will let you pay for small purchases. It is an excellent option for carrying large amounts of cash with you if you’re going to stay in New Zealand for a long time.
All you have to do is create a bank account and get the card to avoid changing exchange rates.
14. Get a Transferwise Card
We know we’ve covered a debit card that you need in New Zealand, but there’s no harm in getting one more specially designated to travelers. This card is one of the best credit cards you can use to avoid hidden charges during an exchange. You can use it many times while you travel and it holds more than 50 currencies.
Register through the following link and get your first transfer for free: Register – Transferwise
Bonus: Once registered the App gives you the option of inviting your friends and making money while you travel.
15. Backpack Alone
Even if you have a partner that you can’t abandon, you’re probably going to experience much more if you’re a lone backpacker in New Zealand. Think about the freedom that comes with not worrying whether someone else is as entertained as you are.
You can take care of your expenses and go wherever you want without the burden of consulting a partner. Furthermore, traveling alone will give you a confidence boost that not many other activities can. What’s more, you will push yourself into socializing more and meet new people.
16. Get An NZ Drivers License or Access Card
If you drink alcohol, there are three types of photographic ID that you should have in New Zealand. You either need your passport, an NZ driver’s license, or a photo ID card.
Your international driver’s license or an original driver’s license from home will not work because New Zealand has a rule that requires places selling alcohol to check IDs. It’s risky carrying your passport everywhere you go. It’s better to get yourself one of the three cards we’ve mentioned depending on the time you’re going to spend in NZ.
17. Keep Your Mind Open
Whether you’re visiting New Zealand for some fun adventure or work, you must keep an open mind. Don’t cage yourself up. Instead, you want to learn how to say ‘yes’; to experience new things or visit new places. If you’re going to find work, you should be open to what’s on offer; otherwise, you may miss out on great networking opportunities. Find the most random jobs and do them to the best of your ability.
18. Eat Cheap but Eat Well
It’s hard to stay healthy if you’re enjoying different adventures every day. Once you change your lifestyle, it gets hard to keep on track and especially if you’re on a tight budget. There is a way to ensure you eat healthy instead of chowing down on noodles every night.
There are great places where you can find healthy fruit and vegetables. You can learn how to make simple but wholesome meals at your hostel or join everyone else during potluck dinners.
19. Be Random
Talk to anyone you know that’s been to New Zealand, and you’re bound to hear about Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland. However, there are plenty more places to fill your adventure. Some of the best experiences you will ever have in your life will include places you discover by accident. The last heard of places offer fantastic opportunities, but only if you open yourself to experience what they have to offer.
20. Take Advantage of Free Activities
You’re likely going to spend a good chunk of your money on activities you’ve researched and budgeted. However, there are a lot of free activities that you can take advantage of in New Zealand.
Go on hikes, relax in a natural hot pool, and visit rock formations, events, galleries, or even waterfalls. Honestly, you don’t necessarily require significant amounts of cash to have the best backpacking experience of your life.
21. Don’t Forget to Be a Tourist
Even if you’re keen on backpacking, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take part in any tourist activities. Most activities or events that are popular in New Zealand are popular because people find joy in doing them. Take a cruise to Milford Sound, and don’t just stay at the shore like a hipster.
22. Be Smart About Your Travels
As you plan to backpack around New Zealand, you’re probably buried in thoughts about covering the whole country in a month. We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but that will probably not happen. NZ might seem like a small country, but even if you’re visiting for a year, you won’t manage to soak in all the places you travel to entirely.
The best way to ensure you take advantage of your time in New Zealand is to choose a few places to visit and then plan around your time, giving each location sufficient time to sightsee. There’s no point in only covering ground if you’re not carrying the experiences with you.
23. Select a Network Provider
When in New Zealand, you’re likely not going to use the same phone network provider that you did while back at home. You must choose carefully when selecting a provider for your phone network. There are only four providers of phone networks in New Zealand, so you shouldn’t have a hard time when choosing a sim card. Regardless, choose one that will offer you a prepay option with a flexible plan for your texts, data, and minutes.
24. Be a Smart Shopper
When it comes to shopping in New Zealand, things will be different from those in your home country. Learn about the tax levied on goods and services and your rights as a consumer in New Zealand.
25. You Have to Move On
You’ve already made plans to backpack through a country you’ve never been to before. Even if you have, you are looking for new experiences. It’s easy to forget about all your goals once you find happiness in one location.
After all, you’ve made new friends, worked several jobs, and experienced a new culture. No matter what you have going on, you should move on and continue your journey of discovery. What’s more, think about starting anew every single time you visit a new place. There’s so much more to discover.
26. Take the Backpacker Bus
Not everyone is comfortable driving on the left side of the road. Especially if rules in your country dictate that you stay on the right. If you’ve no plans to rent or buy a car or a campervan, your next best bet on affordable travel is the hop-on/off the bus.
All you have to do is create an itinerary and pick the bus that runs through it to visit the places that you want to see. There’s usually a guide on board who can help you out with your accommodation needs. This kind of bus tour is a great way to visit places in New Zealand that are lesser known.
27. You Have to Bungy Jump
Well, that’s if you’re an adrenaline junkie. Even if you’re not, you have to open yourself to experiences that’ll remind you to live. Besides, nothing feels better than conquering nightmares, and you get to do it in New Zealand.
Bungy jumping is a rush, and it’s also one of the most terrifying things that you’ll ever get to do. However, the thrill of the ride will make you realize that you can conquer everything you put into your mind.
28. It’s Ok To Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb
Whatever you do while out backpacking in New Zealand, don’t try to blend in too much. There’s no use in doing it. Enjoy your time as a backpacker. If you try to fit in, you’ll waste precious time that you should spend seeing landscapes and enjoying experiences. Relax and spend as much time as you can visiting the places you want to and doing things that you love to do.
29. WWOOFING For the Win
You have to try WWOOFING- (Willing Workers On ORGANIC Farms) if you’re going to stay in New Zealand for more than three months. It’s a unique system where you get to work on organic farms for free accommodation or food. It will help you save money as you interact with Kiwis and get a feel of life in New Zealand.
Check the website of WWOOFING for more info on this unique accommodation system.
30. Visit and Walk on a Glacier
If there’s only one memory you can’t afford to miss making in New Zealand, it’s walking on a glacier. Many wonders make NZ the beauty that it is, and walking on a glacier is the closest to heaven on earth you’re going to get to feel like an angel. Any backpacker in NZ should look forward to walking on a glacier and experiencing the world at a different height.
If you can’t afford to buy a campervan or rent a car, there’s plenty more to get around. Hitchhiking is one of the ways you can get around the country while saving loads of cash you were going to spend on transport. You should take special care though, don’t hitchhike by yourself or at night. Put your safety first.
32. Try Mountain Biking
After Rugby, mountain biking is probably one of the sports loved by Kiwis. Rent or buy a bike at the many shops you’ll discover in town and find your way to Rotorua, the mountain bikers’ paradise in NZ. You’re going to enjoy burning off the calories you’ve gained backpacking through NZ.
33. Sample the Culture in Wellington
All work and no play will make your backpacking experience boring, and even if you’re fond of mountain climbing or hiking, you will need a more upbeat experience. Wellington has some fantastic nightlife clubs and restaurants that you can sample.
34. Prepare Before You Go
Not many people talk about this tip, probably because it concerns bathroom manners while out in the boondocks. As a point of civility to everyone on a backpacking adventure like you, remember to buy and always carry your poop trowel. If you’re out on a hike, this little tool will help you do your business comfortably.
All you have to do is walk a little way off the trail, dig a little six-inch hole, and then cover it up. Even when you’re out having some fun, nature will call, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t answer.
35. Know Your Travel Dates
If you prefer particular weather, you must align your travel dates to the seasons. For instance, the summer months are between December and February, while winter is June-August.
36. Shop for the Best Back Pack Beforehand
Unless you’re a veteran backpacker, this is the first thing you should consider. When packing, only carry essentials and pack light. Your backpack should be lightweight yet allow you to carry stuff without hurting your back. Remember, when you’re running for the bus, you don’t want to struggle with heavy luggage.
37. Try Couchsurfing
Many people have backpacked through New Zealand while CouchSurfing, so you won’t be the first. It’s a great way of saving a few dollars while learning about the culture of Kiwis.
You can find the App ready to download at the following link, it’s FREE: Couchsurfing App Store
38. Camp out
Camping out is an excellent way for backpackers to enjoy the outdoors on warm NZ nights. Many parks offer camping activities with cooking and bathroom amenities.
If you can take not have a shower for a few days, try camping out in the wild.
39. Learn to Cook
Let’s face it; there’s not an abundance of restaurants dotting hiking trails. Learn to cook simple, nutritious meals that’ll give you the energy you need to go out hiking.
Take advantage of the supermarkets and stock up on groceries that can turn into easy, simple meals.
40. Air BNB
As you get to the end of the trip, you want to re-acclimatize with normalcy as you still enjoy the last hours of your journey. You can get an Air BnB for your trip’s final leg and enjoy some luxury as it comes to an end.
See, backpacking in New Zealand doesn’t have to be a quagmire, even for a novice. With these 40 tips, you can be sure that you have everything you will need to make it out alive. Backpacking in the nation should be a walk in the park.
Do you have any extra tips that you would like to share?
Please leave a comment below! We would love to read your thoughts.
Thank you and safe travels!
Great tips, cant wait to visit New Zealand.
Thank you Abby
Nice tips, I hope to visit NZ in 2021 if the pandemic is over.
Thank you Charles
Love the guide, so much to learn and explore, will keep an eye also at your car listings, thanks.
Hi Ada, if you have any questions about a vehicle best contact us via email email@example.com
How much money people need to backpack New Zealand? Let’s say for a period of 3 months?
Hi Stuart, backpackers use to spend an average of 100$NZD per day while traveling. If you have your own campervan where you can live and travel the costs could be lower. However, depends on your needs and what places you want to visit, same as the activies you want to do.
Hallo Travel Cars, I’m wondering if is it worth going to New Zealand for 2 weeks? What are your recommendations? Thanks in advance.
Hi Demian, there are many different places you can visit in 2 weeks.
I leave you here a link with an article we made sometime ago about different trips in the North Island https://travelcarsnz.com/blog/trips-north-island-new-zealand/
Bookme probably is the website which will save you more money, there’s a big difference between their prices and buying directly from companies
I did couchsurfing in different countries, looks like in New Zealand is also a popular way to travel.
Hi Francis, yes it is.
Hi Travel Cars, I’m trying to join some of your FB groups but still my request shows as pending. Thanks
Hi James, member requests could take up to 72h to be approved. Thanks for your patience