Backpacking in New Zealand


New Zealand is a premier destination for a backpacking trip. With its diverse natural landscapes, it offers a range of opportunities for adventure and exploration. The country’s hiking trails are world-renowned, and the scenery along the way is nothing short of breathtaking. New Zealand is also home to a friendly and welcoming population, making it an ideal destination for backpackers. It’s a perfect opportunity for adventure seekers to explore and discover the beauty of New Zealand and create unforgettable memories.



Get your adrenaline pumping in Queenstown, the unofficial adventure capital of the world. The town is surrounded by picturesque mountains and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, providing a stunning backdrop for you to enjoy while you’re taking the plunge and bungee jumping! Of course, you don’t need to go that crazy. The gorgeous area also has several beautiful hiking trails for you to calmly enjoy.

Besides bungee jumping, you can also go paragliding in Queenstown! It truly is the adventure capital of the world.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are the best place to watch glowworms sparkle. A guided tour will take you by boat through the dark caves, which are only illuminated by the tiny creatures. Thousands upon thousands of glow worms nest here, with glowing silk threads hanging from the cave sides. The dazzling lights resemble a starry sky on a clear night – a truly enchanting spectacle to add to your bucket list!⁠

Glowworms illuminate the pitch-black caves.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula is a unique and extraordinary destination where you can unwind and relax in natural hot springs. The beach is located between two volcanic hot water vents, and the water can reach temperatures of up to 64 degrees Celsius. So dig your own hot tub on the beach and enjoy a soak in the warm water while taking in the beautiful coastal scenery! The beach offers the perfect combination of relaxation, adventure, and natural beauty; it’s an excellent spot for surfers and beachgoers. Its natural hot springs provide a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.


Whale-watching is one of the most spectacular wildlife experiences possible, and you will never forget the feeling of seeing these majestic giants up close. Kaikōura, on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is a world-renowned whale-watching destination. Various marine mammals, including several species of whales such as sperm, humpback, and southern right whales, inhabit the city’s unique coastal marine habitat. Moreover, you’ll be sure to spot some seals and dolphins!

The mountainous coastline is the perfect backdrop for whale-watching, surfing and more!


Rotorua’s many rivers and streams offer a variety of rafting opportunities for all levels of experience. From gentle, family-friendly floats to the more exciting and challenging rapids, it’s a great adventure activity for everyone. The Kaituna River is particularly famous for its spectacular 7m Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. When you’re done rafting, you can enjoy the natural hot springs, geysers, and geothermal activity.

The geothermal activity of Rotorua lets the landscape easily be mistaken for Yellowstone National Park on the other side of the world.

Good to Know:


As a backpacker, you’ll likely have social, time, and budget constraints that can be hard to plan with. Luckily, New Zealand is an extraordinarily backpacker-friendly nation! Choose from the numerous hostels (which Kiwis even call backpackers!) based on your constraints. Furthermore, you can stay at a Campground – but we cover this in-depth in our guide Camping in New Zealand – Everything You Need to Know, so go ahead and check that out!

Best Time of Year for a Backpacking Trip

Between November and March is the prime season for Backpacking through New Zealand. Lots of sunshine and high temperatures allow swimming in the ocean and lakes and experiencing the adrenaline rushes that the country’s rivers provide. This is also when most people choose to travel the nation, so the chance of meeting someone you’ll connect with is highest.

Suppose you prefer winter sports over river rafting and swimming. In that case, you should visit during the southern hemisphere’s winter months, ideally in July and August. In particular, you should head to Queenstown during this time for your skiing and snowboarding pleasures.

Ideal Duration of Your Backpacking Trip

This is up to you; others choose anything from a week to even six months or a full year! If you stick to one region, a week or two can be enough. But as New Zealand is so remote and such a long way from the homes of most travelers, longer stays are usually better.

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