Backpacking NewZealand

When talking about New Zealand, many travel enthusiasts rave about the "most beautiful country in the world". The nature on the two main islands certainly does everything to confirm this statement. Volcanic landscapes, snow-capped peaks above deep fjords and windswept plateaus alternate with dense forests, long sandy beaches and gentle flowing streams and rivers. In New Zealand, you can still experience nature in its purest form, without any noticeable human interference and without having to share this experience with crowds.



Enjoy exploring our ideal backpacking route for New Zealand.


Important Basics

Official language

English, Te Reo Maori, New Zealand Sign Language

Basic Vocabulary (Te Reo Maori)
YesAe
NoKao
Thank youKia Ora
HelloKia Ora
GoodbyeKa kite ano
Capital City

Wellington

Form of government

Parliamentary democracy (under constitutional monarchy)

Telephone area code

+64

Currency

New Zealand Dollar

Climate

ø Maximum daytime temperature: 13 to 22 degrees

Ø Maximum night temperature: 5 to 13 degrees

Summer: December to March, Winter: June to August

Fun fact

According to the Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the second-safest country in the world.

Cities

Auckland

Your first stop is Auckland. After you land at Auckland Airport, pick up your campervan – your home on wheels for the next three weeks. Share in your adventure with a fellow backpacker or loved one and save a few bucks on your three-week long trip! Spend the day exploring Auckland’s city centre with sights like the Sky Tower or One Tree Hill.

Recover from your jet lag on one of the many beaches close to the city or drive to the Bay of Islands north of Auckland and enjoy beautiful, relaxing views.

Hobbiton

Next, head to Matamata, two hours from Auckland, and check out nearby Hobbiton.

Visiting this film set is an absolute must for The Lord of the Rings fans. The Shire was designed in great detail and with incredible effort. Take a guided tour through the hilly landscape and get an insight into how both the set and films were made.

Although Hobbiton is very touristy and certainly not cheap, it’s still worth exploring as a stopover.

Rotorua

Drive on to Rotorua, a city located on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Here, a sulphurous volcanic smell lies in the air, wafting out of the numerous hot springs, thermal baths, and warm waterfalls. Be sure to “take the waters” or relax in a natural mud bath.

Visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and its geothermal attractions, including bubbling mud pools, fuming fissures, colourful craters, and the Lady Knox Geyser. Tripadvisor even named this fascinating volcanic area one of the “20 Most Surreal Places in the World.”

Tongariro National Park

On the way from Rotorua to Tūrangi it is worth stopping at Lake Taupo, the largest lake in the country.

Tūrangi is your base for exploring the Tongariro National Park. The heart of this volcanic wonderland is known for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a (challenging) walk, which takes you from the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between the Ngauruhoe and Tongariro mountains, where you’ll pass massive craters, lava fields, emerald mountain lakes, and active volcanoes. This one-day trek is the most beautiful hike in New Zealand and one of the most spectacular hiking routes in the world.

Wellington

After a few days in the countryside, head for Wellington.

This capital city is considered New Zealand's cultural centre (in addition to Auckland) and offers numerous attractions like the Wellington Museum or City Gallery Wellington, the most popular art gallery in New Zealand.

Wellington’s Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which provides insights into traditional Māori culture, are also worth exploring.

Abel Tasman National Park

From Wellington, the journey continues to Picton on New Zealand's South Island.

The three-hour crossing through the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds is one of the highlights of any trip to New Zealand. Once in Picton, the journey continues to Nelson.

The coastal town is the starting point for excursions to Nelson Lakes National Park or Kahurangi National Park. A special highlight of the South Island is the Abel Tasman National Park with its small bays, golden sandy beaches and granite cliffs.

Hike along the picturesque coasts with golden beaches and small bays, discover numerous animal species such as pygmy penguins or seals on a kayak tour and let yourself be fascinated by geological formations such as Split Apple Rock.

Franz Joseph and the Fox Glaciers

Continue along the west coast but make a stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – the perfect place to stretch your legs. You can visit these curious limestone rocks, formed by the waves of the rough Tasman Sea, via a circular walking route offering several viewing platforms.

Head past the industrial town of Greymouth to the Franz Josef Glacier, amid the spectacular mountain landscape of the ice-capped Southern Alps. The lower end of the glacier is surrounded by lush rainforest, offering a breath-taking backdrop for guided ice walks, helicopter rides, and climbing tours. These activities may be a bit pricey, so save a few bucks by walking through the glacier valley yourself to visit the glacier terminus or “snout.”

Next, check out Fox Glacier, about 20 km further south, which you can also explore on guided tours, panoramic flights, or a hike to the snout.

Queenstown

Drive over the Haast Pass and enjoy spectacular scenery on your way to Queenstown.

There is nowhere else on earth where you can try out so many extreme sports as in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world. At the picturesque Lake Wakatipu, go stand up paddling, rafting, water skiing, and sailing or check out an extreme jetboat tour like Hydroattack's Shark Ride. If the water isn’t your thing, there are numerous spots for bungee jumping or you can take a ride on Nevis Swing, the world’s largest. In winter, go skiing in The Remarkables ski resort.

If you’re not a fan of extreme sports, don’t worry – Queenstown has plenty to keep you entertained, from boat trips on Lake Wakatipu and the (very accessible) Queenstown Hill Time Walk, to a Skyline Stargazing tour and gondola lifts with magnificent views. If you’d rather stay in the city, there are plenty of chic bars, hip clubs, and great restaurants to choose from, including the iconic Fergburger restaurant offering high-end, inventive burgers. Queenstown has something do to for everyone!

Milford Sound

If you’re coming from Queenstown, it’s a good idea to spend the night in the small town of Te Anau and drive through Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound the next day.

This is considered one of the most beautiful routes in the country, so give yourself enough time to stop at the numerous lookout points.

Milford Sound is the most famous fjord in Fiordland National Park and a highlight of any trip to New Zealand. Located in one of the rainiest regions on earth, it offers an impressive backdrop with thousands of waterfalls rushing down from steep cliffs into the sea.

The best way to explore the 15-km-long fjord is on a boat trip, which offers the best views of Mitre Peak and Lady Bowen Falls. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some seals amidst the rocky landscape.

Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki

Your journey continues, this time back to the interior of the country through the Southern Scenic Route, which takes you to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo.

These sparkling, turquoise glacier lakes are surrounded by snow-capped mountains – surreal scenery that looks as if it was taken out of a picture book. Although the water is quite cold all year round, take a quick dip after your long drive and watch the sunset from the shore.

Close by you’ll find Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Explore one of the many hiking routes, and trek through valleys, over suspension bridges, and onward to mountain lakes, like the beautiful Hooker Lake.

Christchurch

Your last stop is Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.

In Christchurch, check out attractions like the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, the International Antarctic Centre, and the Canterbury Museum.

Drop off your campervan at the airport and catch a flight back home via Auckland.


Auckland

Auckland

Your first stop is Auckland. After you land at Auckland Airport, pick up your campervan – your home on wheels for the next three weeks. Share in your adventure with a fellow backpacker or loved one and save a few bucks on your three-week long trip! Spend the day exploring Auckland’s city centre with sights like the Sky Tower or One Tree Hill.

Recover from your jet lag on one of the many beaches close to the city or drive to the Bay of Islands north of Auckland and enjoy beautiful, relaxing views.

Hobbiton

Hobbiton

Next, head to Matamata, two hours from Auckland, and check out nearby Hobbiton.

Visiting this film set is an absolute must for The Lord of the Rings fans. The Shire was designed in great detail and with incredible effort. Take a guided tour through the hilly landscape and get an insight into how both the set and films were made.

Although Hobbiton is very touristy and certainly not cheap, it’s still worth exploring as a stopover.

Rotorua

Rotorua

Drive on to Rotorua, a city located on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Here, a sulphurous volcanic smell lies in the air, wafting out of the numerous hot springs, thermal baths, and warm waterfalls. Be sure to “take the waters” or relax in a natural mud bath.

Visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and its geothermal attractions, including bubbling mud pools, fuming fissures, colourful craters, and the Lady Knox Geyser. Tripadvisor even named this fascinating volcanic area one of the “20 Most Surreal Places in the World.”

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park

On the way from Rotorua to Tūrangi it is worth stopping at Lake Taupo, the largest lake in the country.

Tūrangi is your base for exploring the Tongariro National Park. The heart of this volcanic wonderland is known for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a (challenging) walk, which takes you from the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between the Ngauruhoe and Tongariro mountains, where you’ll pass massive craters, lava fields, emerald mountain lakes, and active volcanoes. This one-day trek is the most beautiful hike in New Zealand and one of the most spectacular hiking routes in the world.

Wellington

Wellington

After a few days in the countryside, head for Wellington.

This capital city is considered New Zealand's cultural centre (in addition to Auckland) and offers numerous attractions like the Wellington Museum or City Gallery Wellington, the most popular art gallery in New Zealand.

Wellington’s Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which provides insights into traditional Māori culture, are also worth exploring.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

From Wellington, the journey continues to Picton on New Zealand's South Island.

The three-hour crossing through the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds is one of the highlights of any trip to New Zealand. Once in Picton, the journey continues to Nelson.

The coastal town is the starting point for excursions to Nelson Lakes National Park or Kahurangi National Park. A special highlight of the South Island is the Abel Tasman National Park with its small bays, golden sandy beaches and granite cliffs.

Hike along the picturesque coasts with golden beaches and small bays, discover numerous animal species such as pygmy penguins or seals on a kayak tour and let yourself be fascinated by geological formations such as Split Apple Rock.

Franz Joseph and the Fox Glaciers

Franz Joseph and the Fox Glaciers

Continue along the west coast but make a stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – the perfect place to stretch your legs. You can visit these curious limestone rocks, formed by the waves of the rough Tasman Sea, via a circular walking route offering several viewing platforms.

Head past the industrial town of Greymouth to the Franz Josef Glacier, amid the spectacular mountain landscape of the ice-capped Southern Alps. The lower end of the glacier is surrounded by lush rainforest, offering a breath-taking backdrop for guided ice walks, helicopter rides, and climbing tours. These activities may be a bit pricey, so save a few bucks by walking through the glacier valley yourself to visit the glacier terminus or “snout.”

Next, check out Fox Glacier, about 20 km further south, which you can also explore on guided tours, panoramic flights, or a hike to the snout.

Queenstown

Queenstown

Drive over the Haast Pass and enjoy spectacular scenery on your way to Queenstown.

There is nowhere else on earth where you can try out so many extreme sports as in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world. At the picturesque Lake Wakatipu, go stand up paddling, rafting, water skiing, and sailing or check out an extreme jetboat tour like Hydroattack's Shark Ride. If the water isn’t your thing, there are numerous spots for bungee jumping or you can take a ride on Nevis Swing, the world’s largest. In winter, go skiing in The Remarkables ski resort.

If you’re not a fan of extreme sports, don’t worry – Queenstown has plenty to keep you entertained, from boat trips on Lake Wakatipu and the (very accessible) Queenstown Hill Time Walk, to a Skyline Stargazing tour and gondola lifts with magnificent views. If you’d rather stay in the city, there are plenty of chic bars, hip clubs, and great restaurants to choose from, including the iconic Fergburger restaurant offering high-end, inventive burgers. Queenstown has something do to for everyone!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

If you’re coming from Queenstown, it’s a good idea to spend the night in the small town of Te Anau and drive through Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound the next day.

This is considered one of the most beautiful routes in the country, so give yourself enough time to stop at the numerous lookout points.

Milford Sound is the most famous fjord in Fiordland National Park and a highlight of any trip to New Zealand. Located in one of the rainiest regions on earth, it offers an impressive backdrop with thousands of waterfalls rushing down from steep cliffs into the sea.

The best way to explore the 15-km-long fjord is on a boat trip, which offers the best views of Mitre Peak and Lady Bowen Falls. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some seals amidst the rocky landscape.

Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki

Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki

Your journey continues, this time back to the interior of the country through the Southern Scenic Route, which takes you to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo.

These sparkling, turquoise glacier lakes are surrounded by snow-capped mountains – surreal scenery that looks as if it was taken out of a picture book. Although the water is quite cold all year round, take a quick dip after your long drive and watch the sunset from the shore.

Close by you’ll find Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Explore one of the many hiking routes, and trek through valleys, over suspension bridges, and onward to mountain lakes, like the beautiful Hooker Lake.

Christchurch

Christchurch

Your last stop is Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.

In Christchurch, check out attractions like the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, the International Antarctic Centre, and the Canterbury Museum.

Drop off your campervan at the airport and catch a flight back home via Auckland.

NewZealand Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Auckland
Home - Auckland
Flight
350
Van
2. Auckland
Auckland
-
Van
3. Auckland - Matamata - Rotorua
Auckland - Matamata - Rotorua
Van
Van
4. Rotorua
Rotorua
-
Van
5. Rotorua- Lake Taupo- Turangi
Rotorua- Lake Taupo- Turangi
Van
Van
6. Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park
-
Van
7. Turangi - Wellington
Turangi - Wellington
Van
Van
8. Wellington- Picton- Nelson
Wellington- Picton- Nelson
Ferry
Van
9. Nelson- Abel Tasman (Marahau)
Nelson- Abel Tasman (Marahau)
Van
Van
10. Abel Tasman Nationalpark
Abel Tasman Nationalpark
-
Van
11. Marahau- Pancake Rocks- Franz Joseph Gletscher
Marahau- Pancake Rocks- Franz Joseph Gletscher
Van
Van
12. Franz Joseph Gletscher - Fox Gletscher
Franz Joseph Gletscher - Fox Gletscher
Van
Van
13. Fox Glacier - Queenstown
Fox Glacier - Queenstown
Van
Van
14. Queenstown
Queenstown
-
Van
15. Queenstown
Queenstown
-
Van
16. Queenstown - Te Anau
Queenstown - Te Anau
Van
Van
17. Milford Sound
Milford Sound
-
Van
18. Te Anau - Lake Pukaki
Te Anau - Lake Pukaki
Van
Van
19. Lake Pukaki - Lake Tekapo
Lake Pukaki - Lake Tekapo
Van
Van
20. Lake Tekapo - Christchurch
Lake Tekapo - Christchurch
Van
Van
21. Christchurch – Home
Christchurch – Home
Flight
400

Total price.

Flights 750,00
Transportation 442,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodations 0,00
Total1192,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Classic breakfast: A typical weekend breakfast is quite hearty and consists of scrambled eggs, bacon, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, and baked beans.

Soups

Seafood Chowder: A classic, creamy Kiwi soup, this dish usually consists of mussels and potatoes.

Main courses

Mussels: New Zealanders swear by their seafood, and you can enjoy fresh catch directly from the coastal areas.

Roast lamb: One of New Zealanders’ favourite dishes. A delightful dish served with potatoes and cabbage.

Hangi: This is a Māori dish cooked slowly underground, usually made of chicken and seafood.

Fish and Chips: A typical New Zealand meal and true backpacker food, this English import is usually served wrapped in newspaper.

Drinks & Snacks

Kiwis: This fruit tastes so much better in New Zealand! 

Hokey Pokey: This popular ice cream flavour is made with vanilla ice cream with chunks of honeycomb toffee. Delicious!

Pavlova: A New Zealand classic, pavlova is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp outer shell and soft, light inside, topped with kiwi (of course).

Craft Beer: Craft Beer is an important part of New Zealand culture. Go to a bar and some!?

NewZealand

The exchange rate for 1 New Zealand Dollar is around €0.59 (as of February 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Take a road trip: You can truly experience the nature of the country at your own pace

Check out Māori culture: Get to know the culture of the indigenous population. There are interesting museums and numerous traditional shows available around the country.

Go hiking: Don't be a couch potato. The most beautiful mountains are waiting for you to climb them. You won’t regret the ascent at all.

Walk barefoot: Want to really be like a New Zealander? Then walk barefoot on the street. It's liberating and definitely worth a try.

Don'ts

Don’t take a bus trip: You’ll only experience a very small part of the country and miss out on many incredibly beautiful places as a result.

Don’t be unfriendly: New Zealanders are friendly, open-minded people. Arguments or harsh words are out of place and should be avoided.

Don’t speed: Respect the speed limit, especially at night, since many animals live next to the road.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Not necessary

Vaccine

Yes 

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid on entry for at least one month beyond the intended period of stay. We recommend researching the travel document, visa, and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to New Zealand, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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