Solo Travel in New Zealand
New Zealand is a perfect solo travel destination and is great for the first-timer. It is smaller than Australia, cheaper and really safe to travel around (plus you won’t encounter those strange souls in the outback). If you love the outdoors and adventure sports then this country is for you.
The country is popular for those on a working visa and as part of a round the world ticket combining Asia or the Americas on the way. People are down to earth and it’s so easy to travel as a solo; you can even hitchhike if you got stuck (use your own discretion).
There’s a choice of lodges, hotels, hostels or campsites and adventure tours to hop on hop off, or it’s just as safe to rent a car or a motorhome and just drive around the two islands. Travelling solo in New Zealand is so easy!
About New Zealand
New Zealand is the perfect place for those who love the outdoors and is a model for eco tourism. With a North and South island to explore, this country has amazing landscapes, volcanic craters, hot springs, Scottish towns and wilderness islands, and plenty for adrenalin junkies.
Auckland otherwise known as the ‘City of the Sails’ is surrounded by volcanic craters and has a magnificent harbour where you can watch the world sail by. Grab a bite to eat at Auckland’s fish market in Jellicoe Avenue, a street with its own rain gardens. If you travel within New Zealand’s summertime, Auckland’s waterfront comes alive with live music and outdoor movies.
Visit the country’s first Marine Reserve at Goat Island for underwater life or climb Mount Eden for panoramic views of the city. Another place to see the city from above is the giant Sky Tower, the focal point of the city but if you prefer a view without the window, take the sky walk around the edge or even bungee down it.
Just north of the city is the Bay of Islands, a group of islands with turquoise coves and a tropical feel. This place is a little tropical paradise from the rest of the country and if you’ve got the stamina, climb the top of Waewaetorea Island for the 360 degree view. Make sure you visit Kerikeri – a subtropical paradise that you won’t want to leave. You can also take dolphin cruises through the natural arc of the ‘Hole in the Rock.’
New Zealanders seem more refined than their neighbour and enjoy urban living, arts and culinary tastes. They also know their wine and Waiheke Island or ‘wine island’ (known for its countless vineyards) produces some great flavours and is less than a two hour ferry ride away from the city.
South of Auckland are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves where you can try abseiling or black water rafting through the caves. Rotorua is a natural phenomenon but be prepared for the sulphur smell which is difficult to bear after a few hours. See spraying geysers and bubbling waters or just treat yourself to a mud-bath in the spa.
If you want to experience the hot waters for yourself, Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsular is the place to dig your own spa pool and enjoy the laid back pace that the Coromandel brings.
New Zealand is geared up for the adventure solo traveller and although the South Island is the place for adrenalin junkies, the North island also has its activities: skydive over Lake Taupo, mountain bike around Hastings or take a leisurely kayak ride along the peninsulas.
Wellington is the country’s capital and lies at the foot of the North Island. Here you will find Cuba Street, the coolest street in New Zealand with a chic bohemian feel and the finest bars around. The Te Papa Museum will teach you all need to know about Maori culture and New Zealand’s rich and fascinating history.
Wellington is the gateway to the South island which can be reached by a ferry across the Cook Strait but if you suffer from sea sickness beware as the last part of the journey can get rough.
The scenery in the South island will blow you away. It’s a contrast of fjords, glaciers and waterfalls and is ideal for trekking. Choose from Abel Tasman where the sea meets the countryside or Milford Sound, a magical area of looming cliffs and waterfalls where you can cruise through the Fjordland.
If you prefer to travel on land the Tranz Alpine rail journey runs from Greymouth to Christchurch, a quaint English-style city with green rolling hills and botanical gardens where you can punt along the river or sample fudge at the Fudge Cottage – you’ll feel just at home!
From one English style town to a Scottish one; Dunedin on the East coast is rich in Scottish heritage and has the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street). This historic university town is the perfect destination to see penguins and albatross on a wildlife eco tour.
If you prefer the larger mammals, the seaside settlement of Kaikoura is the place to see giant sperm whales and swim with seals, (if you haven’t got good sea legs, spot them by helicopter instead).
Why not combine a helicopter ride with a climb on one of the South Island’s famous glaciers in a heli-hike? Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are amongst the best places to visit in New Zealand especially for ice climbing adventures. If you’re not a fan of the cold, try a half-day walk for a taster of the blue ice caves and breathtaking views.
If you prefer something to get your heart racing, head to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Every adventure sport you could possibly think of is here from high-speed jet boating to skiing and the original bungee but you don’t have to be an adrenalin junkie to spend time here. You can just sit back and take in the magnificent views of the Remarkables mountain range on a relaxing gondola ride.
For wine lovers, the South Island does not disappoint, there is a vineyards trail along the Farewell Spit and world class Sauvignon Blanc at Marlborough Sounds. Art lovers can lose themselves in craftsmen’s studios at Nelson, the artists hub of the country, where you can watch glassblowers creating beautiful, stylish pieces then take them home.
Invercargill is the southernmost point of the country and although there’s not really much here, you can visit Stewart Island for an ever slower pace of life amongst rainforest and sweeping sands.
New Zealand is practically made up of National Parks and everywhere you turn will offer something new. It’s no wonder that this country was chosen as the iconic setting for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. With a county as beautiful as this, it’s not called 100% pure for nothing.
Visit Kaikoura from October to August for the sperm whales December to March for Orca.
Be careful of farm animals on the road when driving at night.
How long do I need?
Three weeks is enough time to explore the whole country. The south island is the most scenic so spend one week exploring the north island then two weeks for the south.
Accommodation in New Zealand
The best way to see New Zealand is by renting a motorhome and driving around the country. Alongside its many campsites there is a variety of accommodation such as motor lodges and motels in Dunedin, or suites and apartments in Queenstown and Wellington. If you are backpacking around New Zealand there are plenty of hostels on both islands. But if you’re not on a budget, treat yourself to a 5 star hotel in Auckland.
Airbnb connects you to locals in New Zealand and isn’t just limited to staying in their spare room either. Get $20 off your first stay.
GatG Favourite – Sherwood, Queenstown
On a hillside overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the mountains, we love this eco-friendly property in Queenstown. Prices from £69 p/n. Find Out More
GatG Favourite – SkyCity Hotel, Auckland
Situated next to the huge Sky Tower, SkyCity Hotel is in the perfect place for exploring this amazing city, and is only 10 mins walk from the buses and trains. Prices from £90 p/n. Find Out More
GatG Favourite – Museum Art Hotel, Wellington
If you love art then you’ll love the Museum Art Hotel on Wellington’s waterfront with its collection of contemporary art from the country. Prices from £103 p/n. Find Out More
New Zealand Adventures & Tours
If you are looking for some company on all or part of your trip, both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel are responsible tour companies and have group tours in New Zealand from 4 days to 24 days with prices starting at £269. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Get active in the South Island on a 15 day adventure from £1899 or spend 4 days in the Bay of Islands from £269. Join others on an 11 day tour from £1830 exploring glaciers on the New Zealand South Island Explorer or take a 12 day Kiwi adventure with the New Zealand North Island Explorer from £1915. With two islands to choose from there are tours for any level of activity.
For local tours, these tour companies have been recommended by solo females:
- Adventure South – New Zealand cycling and walking specialists and perfect for the outdoors solo.rom 4 days to 27 days.
- Urban Adventures – Day tours with a local. Explore Auckland on an electric bike.
Travelling Around New Zealand
The ferry from Wellington takes three hours across the Cook Strait to Picton. Getting around on both islands is easy. The Northern Explorer train runs in the North Island and driving from Auckland to Wellington is only a seven hour drive.
Inter city coaches run throughout the country as well as local shuttles and bus services between the towns and there are several domestic airports if you’re short on time.
New Zealand is geared up for motorhome travel with a great road network, campgrounds and holiday parks and it’s great for that road trip experience.
To fly, both Air New Zealand and Jetstar have New Zealand domestic flights.
Uber – When getting around the cities you may feel more comfortable with Uber instead of taking a taxi. Uber is a driver app where each driver is vetted beforehand, and you can see the driver’s picture and registration number before they arrive. Save up to $20 off your first ride with Uber using promo code RIDINGUBER20.
Some rental companies won’t allow to take your car between islands so make sure you pre-book your vehicle to pick up on the other side.
From the Airport
Auckland – Airbus express departs the airport every 10/15 minutes until 7pm and take an hour into the city.
Wellington – The Airport Flyer Bus runs from the airport every 20 minutes and takes 15 minutes to the centre of Wellington.
Christchurch – Three bus routes connect the 7 mile route from the airport to the city centre and depart from the northern end of the International Arrivals Hall.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)
To Australia – fly from any of the domestic airports or take a cruise.
To Fiji – fly from Auckland.
To the Pacific Islands – fly from Auckland.
Where can I go from here?
Australia – 5.5 hours
Fiji – 3.5 hours
Tonga – 3.5 hours
- Can I drink the water? Yes.
- Is tipping expected? No, it’s optional.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed Price.
- Any ATM’s? Yes lots.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Left.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
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Capital – Wellington
Population – 4.3 million
Language spoken – English, Maori.
Did you know? Wellington has one of the world’s best quality of life.