Mountains pulled from the sea, reflecting pools, land of the hobbit.
Though crazy expensive, New Zealand is also highly beautiful offering nature, plenty of exercise and great food, and the people are super nice, too!
How to Navigate the Page
Scroll down, or click any row to jump down to a specific section.
- Find yourself rating
- Female solo traveler rating
- Touristy or authentic rating
- Getting around / Transportation
- How to save money
- Negotiating tips
- WiFi access
- Insects, rodents and reptiles
- Passport and visa
- Health, water, etc.
- What to pack
- How to make friends
- What to do and see
- Where to stay
Where I’ve Been
Currency = New Zealand Dollar.
The wonderful scenes of New Zealand…
Find Yourself Rating
Medium. Depending on the time of year, you’re likely to find a LOT of tourists. With so many people going the same places as you, it may be hard to find a haven to escape to. That said, the scenery is beautiful. If you can tune people out, then you can just immerse in nature.
Touristy vs Authentic
A bit of both. The landscape is made by the forces that be, there’s no faking it! The problem is, what there is to see, everyone else wants to see, too. So it’s not that things are made for tourists, but I did have a sense that tourism is such a big industry that everything revolves around it. So, I didn’t get a true sense of where locals hang out or eat, apart from local parks where all the tourists are, too.
Getting Around / Transportation
Anything goes. If you’re traveling with someone, you may want to rent a car as your cheapest option to get around. Bear in mind that some roads can be windy and steep. My hostel in Dunedin had a driveway so steep you needed a literal running start to get up it! The local bus system is pretty good. Intercity serves most of the country, apart from a few areas where private companies, like Atomic Shuttle, service the area. Finally, Air New Zealand can fly you around the country if you’re pressed for time.
How to Save Money
Extremely difficult. Working your way round the country may be an option, such as in hostels, or Workaway. Otherwise, hostels may be your best bet, if you book early and split a room. It’s even hard to save money in supermarkets! Some places have food trucks that offer less expensive food. Otherwise, you may be stuck eating appetizers for meals and risk being a bit hungry as portion sizes can be small. If you stay in a hostel, ask about discounts on activities. For example, in Lake Tekapo I stayed at a YHA Hostel, and, rather than pay lots of money for a stargazing trip, a local guide came to our hostel and, for a few bucks, gave us a great experience with the night sky. Try the Flexipass with Intercity if you’re using the bus system a lot.
Great. Clean, flush well and have toilet paper! In fact, you will see signs everywhere telling you NOT to squat on the seat or throw your toilet paper in the bin. This is for Chinese tourists!
Insects, Rodents and Reptiles
Minimum. The only animals I saw were the ones I wanted – cows, sheep, horses and birds.
Passport, Visa and Entry/Exit Rules
A bit confusing. It’s always a good idea to check the US government website (or your country’s local government if not the US) for in-depth information as well as the embassy website of each country. You most likely do not need a visa, but you may need a tourist authorization, called an NZeTA. If you do, make sure to use the official website or you’ll pay a hefty commission fee.
Health, Water, etc.
Excellent. You can drink the tap water safely, food is safe, and you don’t need any major vaccinations.
Four Seasons. New Zealand is a bit like any island – weather varies immensly throughout the day. Best thing to do is have sunblock, an umbrella and a jacket on hand to be prepared!
Essentials to Pack
Hiking shoes, sunblock, sunglasses, gloves, scarf and a hat, at a minimum. A flashlight is a great idea, too, because some towns are a bit more remote and darker.
How to Make Friends
Put your phone down and make conversation with anyone next to you!
What to Do and See
The southern island has some absolutely stunning scenery. From Te Anau you can see Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. The drive from there to Queenstown is gorgeous and it’s worth staying in a few days because there’s so much to see and do. Lake Tekapo is lovely for the thermal bath and night sky viewing.
Where to Stay
Here are a few of the places I liked:
All in all, YHA Hostels around the country were a safe bet – clean, well maintained and friendly staff.