Backpacking in New Zealand: Hiking, Glaciers, and National Parks

New Zealand is a place of mountains, pristine lakes, glaciers and the most friendly people offering explorers an exceptional and remarkable travel insight and backpacking in New Zealand is a favourite thing to do in the country. 

Set yourself up for probably the most dazzling landscape on the planet. We are talking epic mountain sights, National Parks, gigantic glaciers, beautiful cascades, hot springs…The list goes on! 
New Zealand, the adventure capital of the world offers the internationally acclaimed bungy jumping, jet boat rides, gondola rides, sky-diving, rafting and lots more! 

Furthermore, if that is STILL insufficient for you, what about visiting the popular Lord of the Rings film areas and Hobbit towns?! Not a fan? Alright, the interesting Māori culture, top-notch climbing courses and ski slopes certainly wrap everything up! Peruse on for the ultimate guide for backpacking in New Zealand.


1. Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park

Each national park in New Zealand is worthy of visiting. The purpose behind picking Tongariro over all others is that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site loaded with intriguing treks, snow-capped mountains and the extraordinary volcanic peaks and ski slopes you've ever come across. The active volcanos Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe are situated in the centre of the park. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best hikes in the world. 

2. Milford Sound

Milford Sound
MIlford Sound

Portrayed by Rudyard Kipling as the "eighth wonder of the world", Milford Sound was cut by ice sheets during the ice ages. Stunning in any climate, the fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark yet attractive waters, skyscraping mountain tops and cascades course downwards from as high as 1000 meters. At the point when it rains in Milford Sound, and it frequently does, those cascades increase with great impact. Boating – during the day or overnight – are a superb method to encounter the Sound. Adventure junkies may likewise prefer to take off ocean kayaking, jumping or flightseeing. To get familiar with the neighbourhood marine life, visit the submerged observatory at Harrison Cove and wonder about the dark coral, 11-legged starfish and sensitive anemones. 

COST: Guided tour- NZD 144, Cruise- NZD 65

3. Hobbiton


Visit the original movie set used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit and experience the real Middle-earth. Spread over 1250 acres, this picturesque spot provides a magnificent view of the Kaimai Ranges. You can explore the lush meadows of the Shire with a guided tour of Hobbiton.

COST: Age 9-16: NZD 44, Above 18 years: NZD 89 - NZD 199.

4. Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Spending time in a dark cave, that too with worms sounds scary, but on the contrary, this experience is extraordinary. One of New Zealand's best natural attractions, you enjoy a rather pleasantly surprising sight of glowworms(Arachnocampa Luminosa) which are unique to the land of the Kiwis. These are tiny worms living on the rocks which start to gleam around evening time, emanating a delicate greenish-blue light that gives the dim cavern a delightful makeover. Waitomo is the best place to witness it but Lake McLaren near Tauranga and Kawiti Caves in Waitomo are more budget-friendly options.

COST: NZD 55(Adult), NZD 25(Child).

5. Hot Water Beach

Despite the fact that New Zealand isn't celebrated for its beaches, this one is worth visiting. One of the most popular attractions, it brings in approximately 700000 visitors annually. Reaching an hour before the low tide will let you make most of your self-dug hole in the sand along with a delightful ocean view. The hot water oozes from the geothermal springs under the sand. Relax and enjoy the natural jacuzzi bath and soak yourselves in it! 


Where to Stay While Backpacking in New Zealand

Hostels, DOC campsites, freedom camping, and Airbnb are all good budget-friendly options for accommodation. 

Hostel Rooms: The rent ranges from NZD 20 - NZD 50 per night for the rooms with basic facilities. Try to book the Youth Hostel Association(YHA) hostel rooms as they are quite reasonable and provide good facilities like internet, laundry, barbeque, although these do not include breakfast. Hostels are a great place to meet like-minded people and making new friends.

Campsites: Campgrounds are easily available at reasonable costs along with necessary facilities, sometimes more than necessary too. You get a chance to live amidst the magical nature and scenery of New Zealand. Besides, you save a lot on your accommodation expenses!

Airbnb: is easily available with both single and shared accommodation facilities. Rent ranges around NZD 25 - NZD 70 per night.


Food While Backpacking in New Zealand

Cost of food is rather high in New Zealand although expenses on food vary depending on where and what you eat. Dining out costs an average of NZD 20 per person. Fast food and street food restaurants are cheaper than casual dining restaurants. 

Listed below are the typical food prices :

Breakfast with coffee: NZD 13

Lunch: NZD 20

Dinner: NZD 20 - NZD 40

McDonald's(large meal): NZD 8 - NZD 15

Street food(Chinese/Korean/Japanese Sushi): NZD 10 - NZD 15

Average Total Cost per day: NZD 43 - NZD 60

How to Get Around While Backpacking in New Zealand?

Getting around in New Zealand is not very difficult as public and other transport facilities are easily available at reasonable rates.

You can rent a car and self-drive, join guided tour groups, use hop-on-hop-off buses or take a campervan to explore the beauty of the country.


Car Rentals: NZD 17

Taxis: NZD 25

Tour Groups: NZD 100

Hop-on-hop-off buses: NZD 85 - NZD 135

Intercity: NZD 90

How to Save Money While Backpacking in New Zealand

  • COOK YOUR FOOD: Eating outside is expensive in New Zealand while cooking yourself is more economical. You can buy groceries from cheap supermarkets like Countdown and Pakn'Save and cook yourself a delicious meal. 

  • WWOOFING: WWOOFing is a great way to arrange your accommodation and food. In exchange for working, you get free food and accommodation. It is quite popular with travellers since it lets you remain in a spot for cheaper and longer. 

  • WORK FOR ACCOMMODATION: Many people in New Zealand are open to offering a bed in exchange for cleaning, housekeeping, etc. 

  • AVAIL DISCOUNTS: Keep an eye on discounts while visiting a place or in newsletters and loyalty cards. Often there are special discounts for backpackers so make sure you do not let them go.

  • PLAN YOUR ACTIVITIES: There are tons of activities you can do in New Zealand ranging from nature walks to adventure sports. If you do not plan and decide what you really want to do, your money will slip away from your bank account in seconds. 

  • ENJOY NATURE: All good things are wild and free! Nature is the best thing in New Zealand hands down. You can go hiking, trekking and walking and enjoy nature and the different landscapes in New Zealand ranging from volcanoes, forests and beaches.

    All things said, even if you have to extend your budget a bit, do not hesitate as New Zealand is one of a kind you'll visit in a lifetime.


Things To Keep In Mind

  •  There is a charge for withdrawal of money from your account in New Zealand (suitable for long term backpackers).
  • Check if your insurance policies cover for all the activities that you wish to participate in.
  • Some of the public holidays are - New year(1st and 2nd), Waitangi Day(6th February), Good Friday(19th April), Easter Monday(22nd April), ANZAC Day(25th April), Queen's Birthday (3rd June), Labour Day(28th October), Christmas, Boxing Day(26th December).
  • Note that the time in New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.
  • Some of the famous food in New Zealand is Hangi, Hokey Pokey ice cream, Seafood, Chocolate, Pavlova, L&P, Meat Pies and Manuka Honey. 
Backpacking in New Zealand

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