Nearly every town in New Zealand has an information center called the i-Site. Stop by to pick up brochures, maps, or get advice from staff. Plus, booking tours through the i-Site will get you discounts.
Tourism New Zealand uses an environmental labelling badge called Qualmark to help you identify sustainable businesses. Keep your eye out for the green “Enviro Award” fern when booking accommodation and tours.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) manages over 200 campsites. Book your sites in advance if you’re traveling during peak season (October–April).
You can save up to 50% on fees if you buy a weekly campervan pass. Some remote sites operate on a trust-system collection box, but don’t skip out on the fees – your money keeps DOC funded!
For a complete list of options, download the CamperMate app. It shows you all the camping sites in a selected map area, organized by Free, Low-Cost, or Paid campgrounds.
DOC maintains a network of over 950 backcountry huts throughout New Zealand’s 13 National Parks, and all eight of the Great Walks. The huts vary in amenities, but most have a big bunk bed and a wood-burning stove. DOC huts are perfect for getting off the beaten path.
Don’t skip the park visitor center. You need to book your nights in advance between October–April. Plus, DOC officials are there to help you prep for your adventure.
Weather forecasts, trail conditions, and other information could be critical to your safety. If you’re taking more difficult, remote routes, consider renting a safety beacon before leaving.
If you’re interested in finding a conveniently located hotel instead of a remote hut, booking.com is popular in New Zealand. For a tighter budget, check hostelworld.com. If you’re looking for a deal, consider buying a backpacker’s network membership:
AirBnB also offers options for authentic Kiwi living. Stay on an estate in the wine vineyards of Marlborough, or in a glass-walled home in the suburbs of Queenstown. Look for the ones with outdoor hot tubs – New Zealand is great for stargazing!
If you’re short on time, catching a flight from Auckland to Christchurch is the best way for you to see both islands. However, it’s not cheap and you’ll miss the landscapes. If that’s a deal breaker for you, opting for a hire car or traveling by coach might be better.
New Zealand is easily explored with a rental car. Many points of interest are difficult to get to without your own vehicle.
JUCY is New Zealand’s iconic rental company. Their purple and green rentals can be picked up and dropped off at any airport in New Zealand. They offer a diverse fleet of vehicles, notably the backpacker’s basic “el cheapo” option. You can also get deals from partner tour companies in New Zealand just by flashing your JUCY keychain! There are other rental options too, so shop around online!
Maui and Britz are the most popular options for larger sized campers. Take care when navigating New Zealand’s narrow roads in these big buddies. They’re more expensive than smaller options, but opting for a self-contained vehicle may end up saving you money on accommodation.
Getting around New Zealand on a bus is a safe and enjoyable way to take in the dramatic landscapes without the responsibilities of self-driving. It’s cheap, which means it’s also a great way to meet other backpackers!
The Kiwi Experience and Stray coaches are popular buses to travel with. Their smaller buses allow them to take the smaller, scenic routes. There are many options, so shop around for a company that suits your itinerary and budget.
New Zealand has three options for rail travel, the effortless way to enjoy New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery:
The Interislander Ferry offers five daily departure times to get between Wellington on the North Island, and Picton on the South. Bundle up and spend a few minutes on the top deck while cruising through the Picton’s Marlborough Sounds – there’s a good chance you’ll see some wildlife!
New Zealand’s prized Fiordland National Park holds even more opportunities to marvel at native wildlife. You can choose from Milford, Doubtful, or Dusky Sound. Depending on what type of adventure you’re after, booking a full-day or overnight cruise is the best way to fully experience the magic of the fiords.
If you're planning to work overseas in New Zealand, first you need to know about the IRD and New Zealand's tax system.
Interested in a working holiday in New Zealand? Find out about the working holiday visa scheme and how to get a visa before you go.