5 Reasons New Zealand Is Great For First Time Backpackers

Back in 2009 I was looking to travel,  I was 21 years old and I had a job that I loved but I always knew I wanted to see the world. I really didn’t know where to start, I had ideas but there were so many options available to me. After a little research my heart was set on New Zealand, It almost seemed easy but with fantastic reward, this little country out in the Pacific changed my life and here are a 5 reasons why I think New Zealand is great for a first time traveller.

1.  New Zealand is set up for travelling

From the start of your travels in NZ  to the end, you will realise the country relies on the tourism industry. Every city has a large selection of budget hostels, car & camper rentals, internet cafes and attractions. It is easy to get around and buses, planes and ferrys can get you anywhere within the country at little expense.

For the 18-30’s the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa couldn’t be easier to obtain. Most countries have an agreement with New Zealand to allow 1 or 2 years of travel and work. You an apply online for a small fee within a couple of weeks you are usually approved.

If you are willing to work picking fruit you should have no problem finding employment, following the harvest trail will let you travel the country while earning money at the same time. You don’t have to pick fruit, many employers will be happy to use travellers as short time staff during their busy periods.

2.  New Zealand is beautiful

When it comes to natural beauty, New Zealand has it all.  Volcanoes, mountains, lakes, beaches and glaciers – you dont have to travel far from anywhere in New Zealand to find something that will take your breath away.


Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand


New Zealand has incredible natural beauty while still having great towns and cities and a good standard of living.  NZ is a great destination for hiking and camping out.

3.  New Zealand is very laid back

The people of New Zealand take it easy, enjoying good beer, good wine and rugby on the TV. Kiwis are regarded as a very friendly bunch and rightly so. You can also learn about the fascinating Maori culture on your travels.

There seems little hostility to travellers from the locals. I’m sure it exists, I just didn’t experience any. For the first backpacking experience I can’t think of a friendly bunch to make you feel welcome in their country.


rangitata rafting
Rafting on the Rangitata River New Zealand

4. New Zealand is thrilling

The south island is a popular destination for winter sports, and in ski season Queenstown hostels and hotels will be packed full. You can skydive, bungee jump, go white water rafting or even attempt Zorbing. The country is full of exciting and sometimes scary adventures that you will remember forever.

5.  New Zealand is full of travellers

Some people see this as a bad thing, but I don’t. You can’t help but make friends with people from all over the world while backpacking New Zealand. There are so many solo travellers, couples and groups. As an introduction to travelling it is important you surround yourself with like minded people, you can learn so much about travelling from fellow explorers. Just make sure you don’t spend all your trip in a hostel bar, there’s a fantastic country with fantastic people out there.

There are many more reasons NZ is great for new travellers. I’m actually sure I could think of 100 and not be finished. Id love to here what you think please leave your comments below.

Lee Carter

Born and raised in Accrington, UK, Lee has ventured far beyond his hometown, traveling throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, North America and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of Global Goose and as well as writing the occasional rant he can be found tweaking the code and taking photos of amazing things around the world. Lee and Kelly have no plans to stop their "Gap Decade" anytime soon.

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  1. Hi Lee, as a kiwi (New Zealander) I’m glad you enjoyed backpacking in New Zealand.

    Growing up my dad firmly believed one should travel in their own backyard before embarking off overseas. So over the years I’ve travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand.

    Another reason New Zealand is a great country to backpack around is that the hostels are normally in great condition and many are in prime inner-city locations. The YHA in Wellington is located right next to the national museum Te Papa, dozens of restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

    Getting from one city to another is easy. If anyone else is reading this and plans to travel in New Zealand I highly recommend you take a train trip on the Overlander which travels between Auckland and Wellington. I travelled on the leg between Wellington and Taupo and the view from the train was amazing and a totally different perspective than from the road which takes a different a route. Alternatively there are also modern double decker buses that travel between Auckland and Wellington. Although you’ll have to check in early if you want a seat upstairs.

    The ferry between the North and South Islands is also a great experience but the Cook Straight is often a rough stretch of sea and so I wouldn’t recommend this journey if you get sea sick.

    I guess New Zealand is also great value for money, especially if you’re from the UK (due to exchange rates). There are also plenty of free attractions including natural hot pools and world class museums.

  2. This was great to read. I haven’t been able to try backpacking yet and at 26 years old I do feel it might be time to begin. Is there anywhere other than New Zealand that you’d recommend? It’s very pricey to get there from the United States, unfortunately.

    Queenstown really does look beautiful, and the rafting looks so fun. I will need to try to get there sometime- maybe even as a backpacker 🙂

    1. It is true that it is expensive to get to New Zealand from the States, but if you stay over there for a long period of time such as six months or a year the cost evens out and it is worth it. You can get a working holiday visa which will allow you to work in New Zealand for a year so that you can make money there to finance your trip.
      If you are just going for a short trip you might be better off flying to Europe or South America from the USA which might be cheaper. South America might not be the easiest country for a first time backpacker though.

  3. It is indeed expensive not to mention the flight is tediously long. But it is worth every cent and every minute to visit New Zealand. I actually livedin NZ and have traveled Asia, North America, and Australia; and I am still yet to find anywhere that compares in terms of social capital and scenery/attractions. The people there are incredibly warm friendly and smiley. The geographic environment is absolutely stunning and there seems to be a beach in every direction you turn. You absolutely have to experience this beautiful little green country.

  4. “Thrilling” and “laid back” are great adjectives to describe New Zealand!

    In my humble opinion New Zealand is a great destination for travelers with any budget. Backpacking, luxury travel, camping, yachting, you name it – everything is the best. If you are a budget traveler you must come to New Zealand to experience “a five-star camping”.

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