Backpacking New Zealand

Tips and Advice

Backpacking New Zealand is a challenge and an adventure.

Backpacking is one of the best ways to really get in touch with the culture and meet interesting people - both locals and other travellers.

Backpackers on Hot Water Beach, Coromandel, New Zealand
Backpackers Enjoying Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula


The vehicle of choice for most backpackers is the campervan, but a car and a tent work equally as well.

Between two or three people, campervans can work out to be quite affordable.

Backpacker tent and campervan camping West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
Bakcpacking Camping in a Tent at Pancake Rocks Campsite, Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast Campsite, South Island

If you're lucky, you may even be able to score yourself a free ride - often the rental companies need a van taken from one city to another, and will happily let you drive it free of charge if your paths happen to cross.

Also visit my other travel transport related sections listed for the different types of transport available to backpackers, such as bus and train.

Backpacker Hostels

When it comes to backpacker accommodation, you can't really beat a hostel. Most hostels in New Zealand offer group rooms of 6 or 8 beds (which may be mixed or single-gender) as well as smaller more private rooms. Staying in hostels is absolutely the best way to meet other people to travel and party with.

Working Visas for New Zealand

If you're Australian, you don't have to worry about a visa - you're legally allowed to work in NZ by default.

New Zealand offers a Working Holidays Scheme for backpackers between the ages of 18 and 30. Check the New Zealand Immigration website to see if your home country is on the list.

If you can secure a job offer before you travel to embark on backpacking in New Zealand, it makes getting a visa much easier - but it's certainly not necessary to do so.

Finding Work While Backpacking New Zealand

There are always jobs up for grabs for backpackers if you know where to look. Restaurants and bars are amongst the top choices, since you don't need much experience to land a job and these kinds of businesses tend to have a high staff turnover rate.

One thing you'll notice as you travel around the country is that many backpacker hostels are staffed largely by travellers, so if you're on the hunt for work, always enquire at wherever you're staying. Queenstown in particular is a good place to find a job - you'll notice many of the bars, restaurants and accommodation spots employ at least a few foreign workers.

Fruit Picking

There are also plenty of seasonal jobs to support backpacking New Zealand such a fruit picking. Picking fruit can actually be quite a lucrative job for a traveller, if you're a fast worker.

Grape Picking

Vineyard of Grapes, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand
Vineyard of Grapes, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand

There are many vineyards around the country which hire large numbers of travellers to harvest grapes.

Farm Work

Farms also often take on casual, seasonal and short-term workers.

Ski Season

The skiing season and/or the height of summer are when the Queenstown region is a good place to look for work.

Seasonal Work

Many backpackers secure a working visa by getting a job offer lined up with an approved seasonal employer before travelling to New Zealand.

Wwoof New Zealand

Wwoof New Zealand (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) is another great way to meet local people and support ecotravel.

Basically, volunteers get some real experience of ecological and sustainable lifestyles and practices by living with an host family on an organic property. It is a way of travel that gives you the opportunity to really meet local people, it is educational, and a safe way to get this kind of travels experience.

The best way to find out more about Wwoofing and the types of activities you are likely to participate in is by visiting WWOOF New Zealand.

Tramping and Hiking

Backpacking New Zealand is all about seeing the country up close and personal, rather than through the window of a tour bus. For many backpackers, that means getting to know the countryside on tramps like the Abel Tasman Coastal Track in the Tasman Region. This track is over 50 kilometres long and takes about four days if you move at a steady pace.

The following sections of this site provide lists of tramping, walking, hiking, tracks in New Zealand for you to choose from. There are nine most popular but there are also loads of other short walks that take anything from an hour upwards to ones where you spend days really soaking up the atmosphere of the landscape as part of your tour backpacking New Zealand . The North and South Islands both have a range of scenery and tramping options so you can't fail to find something to suit your itinerary or fitness levels.

Adventure Travel

If you decide not to go down the backpacking way of travel, why not try an adventure tour? New Zealand adventure travel is available in groups tailored for adventure seekers.

These types of tours can include a variety of activities right across either islands, or just on one island. If you don't want to join a group you can easily just travel from one adventure to the other on your own or if you have enough of a budget you can enlist the services of a private guide.

Adventure and Outdoor Safety

Do take the time to read the Outdoor Safety Code, for extremely useful tips and advice on staying safe in the outdoors.