So you want to go backpacking New Zealand, the land of Middle Earth, pardon, New Zealand, do you? Well, that’s perfect because this country is a backpacker heaven. So many backpackers come here on a regular basis, there have been a lot of adaptations made for their comfort. For instance, travelling by bus is comparatively cheap, hostels have wifi (mostly, you have to pay for it, though) and there are tons of activities on offer. Since you are a backpacker, I presume you want to get the most out of your experiences but not spent too much so as to save up for the next epic tour or activity. Here’s how to:
The main key word is always comparison. Go online to websites, such as booking.com, hostels.com or hostelworld.com. They can offer pretty good deals if you book in advance. For those who want to save a great deal and do not bother with luxury hostels, nakedsleep has insane offers and if you book with the nakedbus, it will often even drop you off right in front of the hostel ) – just make sure you actually book this option (otherwise you might land on the other side of town).
As mentioned earlier, public transport is pretty cheap. It might not be greatly developed since you will find it mostly in cities or as a connection between them. So don’t count on it to take you into nature – sadly, you still need a car or book a tour for this. But since you are a backpacker and probably staying at a youth hostel, you can simply have the reception make a shout out or ask fellow travellers the old fashioned way whether they would like to have a day tour with you.
Speaking of tours when backpacking New Zealand, if you rather not book every route with the Nakedbus or intercity but have a guide on tour that books everything for you and you just have to hop on and hop off (as well as pay for the bookings and activities since they are not included), then you can try out the famous Kiwi Adventures. One more thing, some cities have free city centre lines, for example Auckland (if you own an AT Hop Card) and Hamilton (that’s really for free).
Ok, so you want to be travel sassy and avoid using public transport but not bring your own car? For one, you could rent a car but the cheaper version would be car relocation. This means that you are not as flexible as you might otherwise be, but getting a car and only paying petrol just to drop it off in another city sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
I have been offered free lifts, but have not actually stuck out my thumb and tried it out myself. But from the experience of some of my fellow travellers it really sounds as if it was absolutely safe and easy to get around like this. One woman I met travelled all of the coastlines and main inner cities just hitchhiking for 4 months. She never encountered any problems and was always able to find a hostel on arrival.
The most popular option when backpacking New Zealand and needing some food is to cook yourself. This also means, you better bring your own set of plastic cutlery (maybe the one you get on your flight), sachets of salt and pepper and possibly a Tupperware box so you can take leftovers with you for lunch on the road. Hostels offer cooking facilities (even though some might not even have muesli bowls or even remotely clean pots) and farmers markets on weekends offer great prices on otherwise super expensive veggies and fruits. For supermarkets, make sure you get a tourist card for Woolworths from the tourist information to be able to claim special deals. If you want to eat out, register with or download the app from Groupon and get amazing deals. The cheapest menu deal without a voucher I found was offered by fast food franchises for $5 a burger, drink and fries.
It might be a no brainer, but I will still include it. Tap water in New Zealand is drinking water, so why waste your small change on buying big bottles for the day, which adds up to a sum for which you could have eaten out nicely? So bring your own bottle or buy one (yes, the one you may buy) and find a tap or one of the many drinking fountains everywhere in the country. They usually are found in libraries, train stations or near public toilets. Often, shopping and city centres also have them, so you do not have to go on a desperate hunt for water.
New Zealand promises a lot of wifi, there is one in the city centre of Hamilton, Auckland or Wellington, for instance. Often, hostels will list free wifi as a perk but then fail to live up to it. Buying wifi for $4 a day cuts down your budget fast and you might cut out on tasting meat pies. To avoid that, find out whether your local library or i-site offers free wifi or locate the nearest McDonalds or Burger King (Burger King has a way better wifi quality by the way). If you want to invest in a sim deal, opt for telecom as they offer 1GB and have a good coverage even though you can find free sim cards from 2degrees everywhere.
I hope these travel tips on backpacking New Zealand have been of help to you or will be in the future once you visit this amazing country. Let me know if you have any more or tried some out yourselves.
Are you headed for New Zealand soon? Where would you most like to visit if you could visit tomorrow for a backpacking New Zealand trip?
This article appeared also in the online magazine Kiss from the World.