Solo Travel in New Zealand: A Complete Guide (And Honest Thoughts)

Solo travel in New Zealand
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New Zealand is a fantastic destination for solo travellers. Full of breathtaking natural beauty, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and unique wildlife found nowhere else on earth, New Zealand is an amazing place for a solo trip.

I spent four months solo travelling in New Zealand. It’s become one of my favourite countries and holds a special place in my heart. In this post, I’ve shared all you need to know about solo travel in New Zealand. I’ve also included my honest thoughts on whether New Zealand is a good place for a solo trip.

Is New Zealand safe for solo travel?

When it comes to solo travel, it doesn’t get much safer than New Zealand. According to the 2023 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the fourth most peaceful country in the entire world (after Iceland, Denmark, and Ireland). With friendly locals and a low crime rate, New Zealand is a great option when it comes to solo travel and solo female travel.

Solo Travel in New Zealand

I spent six months in New Zealand. Four of these months were spent solo travelling, including two solo campervan trips. I never once encountered any issues. That’s not to say crime doesn’t exist in New Zealand, petty crimes such as theft are common in and around the larger cities such as Auckland. But overall, New Zealand is a very safe country for solo travel and one of the safest countries in the world.

Best time to visit New Zealand as a solo traveller

New Zealand is a year-round destination, but different seasons certainly have their benefits depending on what you want to see and do. From a weather perspective, New Zealand has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of what most people are used to. For example, December to March is New Zealand’s summer. The months of June, July and August are New Zealand’s winter months.

If you’re visiting New Zealand as a solo traveller, here are some things to consider when it comes to the best time of year to visit.

The summer

The summer months are the peak season in New Zealand. The lupins bloom, the days are long, and most activities are operational. Summer in New Zealand is a busy period which makes it a great time to meet other travellers.

However, if you visit New Zealand in the summer, both accommodation and activities will be a lot more expensive. It’s also worth noting that you’ll have little flexibility in the summer. Accommodation and activities need to be booked well in advance. If you want to have a fully flexible itinerary, the summer might not be the best time.

Beaches on Stewart Island
Beaches on Stewart Island

The winter

On the other hand, winter in New Zealand is the quietest time to visit (Queenstown aside). You’ll be able to be much more flexible with your itinerary. New Zealand in winter is a stunning time. The snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps are truly beautiful.

However, the winter season in New Zealand comes with its challenges. Firstly, the snow on the South Island may limit some activities, including hiking. It also means driving conditions can be difficult.

Queenstown in winter is particularly busy because of the ski season, so be sure to book anything there in advance.

The shoulder seasons

Spring and autumn are the shoulder seasons in New Zealand. Think April, May and June and September & October. This is arguably one of the best times to visit New Zealand. Temperatures aren’t too extreme, and accommodation is slightly cheaper than the peak season.

As a solo traveller, you might find the shoulder season a little harder to meet people. But that’s not to say hostels will be empty by any means.

New Zealand in the winter can be a tricky time to travel
Hooker Valley in heavy snow

How to get around New Zealand as a solo traveller

One of the biggest challenges with solo travel in New Zealand is transport. Getting around New Zealand alone can be expensive and sometimes challenging. New Zealand is a vast country with limited public transport options.

Here are some options for getting around New Zealand as a solo traveller. If you’re not planning to rent your own vehicle, read my guide on how to get around New Zealand without a car.

By hiring a car or campervan

The best way to get around New Zealand is by rental car or campervan. New Zealand is a large country and while the major towns and cities are well-connected, you often need a car once you get there to see the attractions (especially if you want to hike).

Hiring a car also means you can take the scenic route between attractions. Many of the buses stick to the main roads. If you opt to hire a campervan in New Zealand, make sure it’s self-contained. This means you can freedom camp in New Zealand and save money on accommodation.

The downside to hiring a car or campervan alone in New Zealand is the cost. It’s a very expensive option, especially when you add in the cost of fuel. New Zealand is also a big country and there are some long drives involved. Doing this by yourself can be very tiring. I spent a week driving from Queenstown to Auckland as part of a relocation deal. It felt very lonely at times.

Read next: Planning a solo road trip in New Zealand? Here are 10 helpful tips

A campervan is a great way to travel in New Zealand
Wendekreisen Campervan in New Zealand

By bus

If hiring a car is too expensive or not something you want to do, another good option to get around New Zealand is to use the bus.

InterCity is the main bus network in New Zealand and connects most of the main cities and towns. I’ve spoken more about InterCity in my guide to getting around New Zealand without a car.

Other ways

There are several other ways to get around New Zealand without a car. This includes the famous Kiwi Experience and domestic flights.

I’ve often seen people ask if hitchhiking is safe in New Zealand. Hitchhiking is perfectly legal in New Zealand (unlike Australia) and it’s a common sight around the country. It’s not something I would personally do as a solo traveller, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Group tours in New Zealand for solo travellers

If you’re nervous about solo travel in New Zealand, consider looking at a group tour. Group tours are a fantastic way to see the highlights of a country in a short amount of time. They’re a popular option for first-time solo travellers as everything is organised for you.

There are several small group tours in New Zealand. This includes tours from G Adventures and Intro Travel. The Kiwi Experience also have pre-organised group tours.

The cost of most group tours includes your transportation, accommodation, and some activities. Many activities such as sky diving or bungy jumping are an extra cost.

Group tour in New Zealand
Group tour in New Zealand

How long to spend in New Zealand

This is a really difficult question to answer. I spent six months in New Zealand with a goal to explore every corner of the country, but I still feel like there is so much more to see. It would be easy to spend just a few days exploring one of the cities, and it would also be easy to spend an entire year travelling around the country.

To see the best of both the North and South Islands, you need to allow at least four weeks. This would allow ten days to see the North Island and the rest of the time in the South Island. In an ideal world, I’d suggest at least two months in New Zealand.

If you’re tight on budget and time, two weeks in New Zealand is a sufficient amount of time to see the highlights of the North Island and the Queenstown area. For example, you could spend five days in Auckland and do some day trips from there. Then, head to Queenstown and explore the Southern Alps.

Pros of solo travel in New Zealand

I spent four months travelling solo in New Zealand. I had the absolute time of my life. It is a great way to experience the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.

Here are some advantages of solo travel in New Zealand.

Full flexibility

Travelling solo in New Zealand allows you to have full flexibility of your schedule. You get to decide what you want to do and don’t need to worry about others. If you change your mind about an activity, it doesn’t matter.

New Zealand is a large and diverse country. There are many natural wonders, incredible hiking trails, adrenaline-fuelled activities and cultural attractions too. By travelling solo, you can pick and choose to do what you want to do and when you want to do it.

Meet new friends

Solo travel in New Zealand is a fantastic way to meet new friends. The hostels in New Zealand are very social (especially in the likes of Queenstown). I met many lifelong friends during my six months in New Zealand. When you travel with a friend, there’s not always a need to be social. 

Solo travel in New Zealand
Meeting friends in New Zealand

Stick to your budget

In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages of solo travel is being able to stick to your budget. We all travel with different budgets, and that doesn’t always match the person you’re travelling with. Solo travel in New Zealand allows you to dictate your budget and stick to it. Want a bit of luxury? Great, book a hotel. Want to budget and stay in a dorm room? You can do that too. You have complete control of your spending.

Travel how you like

Travelling solo in New Zealand means you have complete control over how you travel. You can hire a car if your budget allows, hire a campervan, use the bus, catch a flight or join a group tour. It’s entirely your trip and you don’t need to compromise for anyone.

Read next: 10 Advantages of Solo Travel from a Solo Traveller

Cons of solo travel in New Zealand

While there are several advantages of solo travel in New Zealand, there are also some disadvantages. New Zealand is an epic destination for solo travel, but it’s not perfect by any means.

It’s expensive

It’s no secret that New Zealand is a very expensive country. Unfortunately, travelling solo can make this worse. I could only spend two months in a campervan as I was with a friend. There’s no way I would have been able to afford it without sharing the cost. Travelling with a friend means you can save money on transport, including petrol. It also means you can sometimes save money on food and accommodation depending on what you do.

Hiking alone

New Zealand is a haven for hiking lovers with some of the best hiking trails in the entire world. While hiking solo is something I encourage, it can be nerve-wracking at times. There are several hikes I avoided in New Zealand as I didn’t feel confident doing them by myself. This was because of large scree fields, avalanche risks and lack of phone signal.

Of course, this is a completely personal decision. We all have different confidence levels for solo travel and hiking alone.

Read next: planning to hike alone? Read my guide for solo hikes.

Solo hiking in New Zealand
Mount Cook National Park

Backpacker scene

New Zealand doesn’t have the biggest backpacking scene. Sure, all the hostels I stayed in were friendly and social, but New Zealand isn’t exactly full to the brim with backpackers.

Away from the big towns such as Queenstown and Auckland, the hostels are a little on the quieter side. You may find there is only one hostel in a town and people tend to only stay for one or two nights. This can sometimes feel a little isolating and frustrating. You meet so many people but you are all going in different directions.

It can be lonely

Solo travel in New Zealand can feel a little lonely at times. While it’s easy to meet others, I found that everyone was on such a different schedule or itinerary that it was hard to stick together (compared to that of Southeast Asia). Plus, if you’re hiring a car or campervan, there will be some very long drives and doing this by yourself can be lonely.

Best places in New Zealand for solo travellers

Here are some of the best destinations for solo travellers in New Zealand. This is not a comprehensive list of everywhere to visit, but some of the best spots for those travelling solo in New Zealand.

Read next: Check out the 30 best places to visit in New Zealand’s South Island.


Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It’s also where the country’s main international airport is and a popular start or end point for a trip. You’ll find many other solo travellers beginning their adventure here. While in New Zealand, don’t miss a visit to the stunning Waiheke Island where you can relax on the beach or go wine tasting.

One of the best hostels in Auckland is Lylo. This modern hostel has a selection of dorm rooms with pods offering plenty of privacy. There are also private rooms, a social (and cheap) bar plus a chill-out area. It’s one of my absolute favourite hostels I’ve ever stayed in.


Taupo is a beautiful town in the heart of the North Island. It’s a very popular spot for backpackers and solo travellers with a lively nightlife and plenty of things to do. This includes visiting the famous Huka Falls and doing a sky dive over Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro Alpine Crossing near Taupo

Taupo is also the gateway to Tongariro National Park, home to the famous Tongariro Crossing. This is an absolute must-do while in New Zealand. It’s been voted the best day hike in the world and for excellent reason. The incredible hike takes you past other-worldly landscapes, including emerald lakes and volcanic craters. There’s nowhere else like it in New Zealand.

The best hostel in Taupo is Finlay Jack’s YHA. It’s a social spot with everything you need.


Queenstown is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand for solo travellers. Many people in New Zealand on the working holiday visa base themselves in Queenstown. There are several great hostels which make it very easy for solo travellers to meet others.

Aside from its beautiful setting, Queenstown is known as the adventure of the world. It’s a good place to tick off many bucket list activities such as sky diving, bungy jumping or a trip to Milford Sound (the Eighth Wonder of the World).

There are several good hostels in Queenstown. This includes Nomad’s Hostel and Black Sheep.


Wanaka is a great place to experience the beauty of the Southern Alps without the chaos of Queenstown. Known as ‘Queenstown’s little sister’, the beautiful town of Wanaka lies on the shores of Lake Wanaka. It’s surrounded by incredible mountains and is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

The town itself is a fantastic spot for solo travel in New Zealand. It’s lively with plenty of things to do, but isn’t too chaotic. It’s the perfect spot to relax a little. While in Wanaka, consider hiking the famous Roys Peak, home to *that* famous viewpoint. If you want to avoid the busy trails of Roys Peak, consider the magnificent Isthmus Peak (which I prefer to Roys Peak).

Views from Roys Peak
Views from Roys Peak in Wanaka

One of the best hostels in Wanaka is the YHA. It’s a little outdated, but a social spot. There’s a courtyard just down the road with some delicious food stalls.


Christchurch is the biggest city on the South Island. Many visitors use this as a start or end point for their South Island trip without spending much time there. However, I loved Christchurch. It’s a great spot for solo travellers with lots of lively bars and a great food scene.

While in Christchurch, I’d recommend a visit to the International Antarctic Centre near the airport.

My favourite hostel in Christchurch is Hotel Give. If you want to stay near the airport, consider Lylo Christchurch.

Lake Tekapo

A visit to Lake Tekapo is a must on any solo trip to New Zealand. Granted, it’s not the liveliest of spots, but it is truly stunning. Lake Tekapo is surrounded by incredible mountains. It boasts magnificent natural beauty and is home to the famous Tekapo Hot Springs, the perfect place to relax.

Solo travel in New Zealand
Lake Tekapo

Tekapo lies in the Makenzie Dark Sky Reserve and one of the best things to do in Tekapo is to go stargazing. You can opt to join a tour or simply relax by the lake and stare at the stars.

While in the Tekapo area, don’t miss a visit to Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand’s tallest mountain. It’s an area of true beauty with some great hiking opportunities, including the famous Hooker Valley Track. The trail takes hikers through the valley and past snow-capped mountains, blue lakes and across swing bridges with incredible views of Mt Cook.

Check out my accommodation and camping guide for Tekapo to discover the best places to stay.

Other areas to visit

New Zealand is filled to the brim with epic destinations. The ones mentioned above are especially good for solo travel in New Zealand, but there are many more well worth visiting if you have enough time.

Here are a few of my personal favourites.

  • Bay of Islands: this is a fantastic spot for relaxing on the beach and seeing a different side of New Zealand. Think golden beaches and crystal-clear waters.
  • The West Coast: the South Island’s West Coast is like nowhere else I’ve ever visited. This stunning, almost Jurassic-like coastline is filled with incredible viewpoints, glaciers, and rainforests. It’s also where you need to go to visit the famous Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Coromandel Peninsula: located on the North Island of New Zealand, the Coromandel is a place of natural beauty. With endless rainforests and mountains, it has some great hiking trails, including one of my favourites – The Pinnacles Hike. The Coromandel is also home to the famous hot water beach.
View from top of Pinnacles Hut Hike
View from top of Pinnacles Hut Hike
  • Kaikoura: this sleepy fishing town on the South Island is the place to be to experience some of New Zealand’s best marine life. You can swim with wild dolphins, see wild seals and take a whale watching flight. Kaikoura is truly a magnificent place. 
  • Stewart Island: this remote island off the south coast is a haven for adventure and wildlife lovers. It offers an authentic ‘island life’ experience and is a great spot to see wild kiwis (and go shark cage diving)!

Tips for solo travel in New Zealand

Here are a few tips to help you with your solo trip to New Zealand.

Download Google maps

New Zealand is a large country and with so many mountains, it doesn’t have the strongest infrastructure. This means you can go for long periods without any phone signal whatsoever.

If you’re travelling solo in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to use Google Maps to download a map of the country offline. This means you can get directions without any service.

Stay in hostels

Staying in hostels is a great way to meet new people and get advice. The good news is that hostels are a common feature in New Zealand and can be found in most towns. If staying in a hostel dorm room isn’t for you, most of the hostels also have private room options.

Speak to the locals

New Zealanders are very helpful and friendly. They’re proud of their country and want to help others experience the best of it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

Swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura
Swimming with wild dolphins in Kaikoura

Facebook groups

There are several fantastic Facebook Groups about travelling to New Zealand. If you’re a solo traveller, they’re a good way to meet people and ask for advice. One of my personal favourites is NZ Travel Tips.

Travel Insurance

Make sure you have travel insurance before visiting New Zealand. If you’re a Brit, you’ll get reciprocal health care in New Zealand. However, this won’t cover everything and it’s still important to make sure you’re covered for all circumstances. My personal favourite Travel Insurance is True Traveller.

My honest thoughts: is New Zealand a good destination for solo travel?

New Zealand is a great destination for solo travellers. It’s certainly not the cheapest country on the planet, but it’s easy to meet people and is well set up for solo travel. 

Due to how expensive the country is, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for budget backpackers, especially if you want to go beyond the towns. Budget aside, New Zealand is a fantastic place to solo travel. The natural beauty of this country is on a whole other level. With snow-capped mountains, incredible lakes, wild coastlines, dramatic volcanoes and lush rainforests, New Zealand has a bit of everything (even sand dunes).

It’s worth noting that New Zealand is a vast country. Some of the smaller towns can be a little on the quieter side when it comes to meeting others. Having said that, I do think New Zealand is a great place for solo travel (and I’ve travelled solo to over 30 countries).

If you’re considering a solo trip to New Zealand, I really could not recommend it enough. The six months I spent in New Zealand changed my life.

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