Solo travel in New Zealand is full of dramatic scene-stealing moments, from majestic mountains, volcanic plateaus and vast lakes to picturesque vineyards, tumbling waterfalls and stunning fjords. Nicknamed the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ by the local Maori people, there’s also a wealth of cultural traditions that resonate throughout. And, as the world’s second safest country, it’s easy to navigate and well protected for the solo traveller.
Split across two islands, the North and South, both have vastly different offerings. In the North Island, most visitors begin their journey in Auckland. From here, it’s south to Rotorua where boat rides transport people through the magical Waitomo Caves, lined with thousands of glowworms. In the geothermal valley of Te Puia, experience geysers, fumaroles and bubbling mud pools. At the country’s largest lake, Taupo, kayaking offers a close-up viewpoint. At the Tongariro Crossing, a wilderness hike takes in alpine desert landscapes and smoking volcanoes. At the very southern tip, you’ll find Wellington, New Zealand’s capital.
Across the Cook Strait on the South Island, wine-lovers should head straight for Blenheim, the gateway to the Marlborough wine region, where you’ll get to taste Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs and Aromatics. From here, it’s to Kaikoura, a small coastal town backed by snow-capped mountains, where there is the opportunity to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat. Glaciers and lakes await around the west coast and Westland Tai Poutini National Park, while adrenaline junkies swarm to Queenstown for bungee-jumping and skydiving.
Joining a solo group trip to New Zealand with Flash Pack gives you the independence to explore the wonderful country with the security and company of a like-minded group. Here’s everything you need to know about solo travel in New Zealand.
New Zealand travel facts
With around 600 islands and 13 national parks, the natural landscape of New Zealand is one of the most varied and epic, making it an ideal stomping ground for solo travellers. And, with 30% of the country a protected nature reserve, there’s a wonderful opportunity to witness some outstanding sights, such as New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook and the ethereal magnificence of Milford Sound.
There are also three Unesco World Heritage sites: New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands off the south coast and home to an abundance of varied wildlife; Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand, which has four national parks and wild alpine landscapes; and Tongariro National Park, used as a setting in The Lord of the Rings, has three active volcanoes and ski slopes
Is New Zealand good for solo travel?
As one of the world’s safest countries, travelling alone to New Zealand is not uncommon and there are plenty of like-minded individuals doing the same. This means plenty of opportunities to interact with new people and make new friends. But there’s a lot of ground to cover, especially in a short space of time, so it’s worth considering a group solo holiday to New Zealand with Flash Pack.
As well as covering key places of interest, such as the main hubs of Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, there are also a host of awe-inspiring one-offs, such as swimming with dusky dolphins, travelling into the hills to experience first-hand rural life, and enjoying a traditional dinner at the home of New Zealand locals.
Best places to visit
With a vast expanse of striking scenery, it’s hard to know whether to focus on the North Island or South Island as both offer a different viewpoint to the country. On Flash Pack’s 15-day New Zealand: An Epic Journey, you’ll have the chance to visit both, beginning in urban Auckland and ending in vibrant Queenstown. You’ll experience breathtaking sights, immerse yourself in local life and encounter once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The adventures begin from day one when you’ll zip line across a forest canopy before driving along the Hauraki Gulf, a spectacular coastal region, before heading to Waiheke Island for some impressive wine-tasting. From here, the sights come thick and fast, from the limestone caverns of the Waitomo Caves, lit by thousands of tiny luminescent glow worms to New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupo, where you’ll kayak and hike the waterfalls. You’ll then tackle the immense Tongariro Crossing before crossing to the south. Here, wine tours, sealife, rural living, glaciers and alpine lakes at Franz Josef Glacier to the snowy peaks of Milford Sound.
Where to stay as a solo traveller in New Zealand
New Zealand’s vast and varied landscapes bring with them a wide range of accommodation options, from scenic beach retreats to lakeside idylls to hotels backed by peaks. In the North Island’s Rotorua, hotels sit alongside lakes, bubbling mud pools and thermal springs. In the capital Wellington, accommodation is backed by green hills or overlooks the sparkling harbour. On the South Island, rooms come with panoramic views of glaciers, lakes, and glorious golden stretches.
On a group solo holiday to New Zealand with Flash Pack, luxury accommodation is arranged for you. Typically, you’ll share a room with a fellow Flashpacker, thereby swerving the single supplement. But if you want your own private space, that’s fine, too.
How to get to New Zealand
New Zealand has five international airports spread across the North and South islands: Auckland is the largest, along with Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin. From there, domestic flights make it easy to reach the majority of the key sights and smaller regions.
Rotorua has its own airport making it simple to explore the region. Hokitika Airport is closest to Franz Josef Glacier, while Taupo Airport gets you to New Zealand’s largest lake. For the wine regions of Blenheim and Marlborough, Blenheim Airport will get you there while the wine is still chilled. In adrenaline capital, Queenstown, there’s a heady mix of boutique boltholes and luxury lakeside lodges.
How to get around New Zealand
The quickest way to travel around New Zealand is by a reliable and simple internal flight network. The five international airports all have domestic terminals, making it quick to transfer to onward destinations. There are also 25 regional airports, ranging from those with facilities to those with little more than a small outbuilding. The longest journey, flying from Auckland at the top of the North Island to Dunedin at the bottom of the South, takes just under two hours.
With New Zealand’s wealth of scenery, train journeys can be a magnificent way to experience a front row perspective of the country. From the Northern Explorer (Wellington to Auckland) to the Coastal Pacific (Picton to Christchurch) to The Tranz Alpine (Christchurch to Greymouth), every aspect of the spectacular vistas can be captured wistfully through the window,
Hiring a car and taking to the open road is a popular way to cover some serious ground and see the best the country has to offer. Self-drive gives you proper flexibility, meaning you can explore more off-the-beaten track spots and stop at hidden gems you pass along the way. And, if you can take your time, hire is generally cheaper the longer you have the car. Finally, buses are a great and inexpensive mode of transport, offering unlimited hop on and hop off tickets to most of the country’s key attractions.
Best time to visit New Zealand
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand’s seasons fall at opposing times to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer falls between December and March and is considered the best time to visit, especially for those wanting to see the coast or get out in nature on a hike with temperatures averaging 16°C to 24°C. During the winter months of June to September, rain tends to fall in the North Island, while snow hits the south, creating ideal conditions for skiers. Spring brings with it raging rivers, perfect for adrenaline junkies, while autumn is ideal for those wanting to see wildlife but avoid the crowds.
New Zealand solo travel itineraries
Flash Pack’s 15-day New Zealand: An Epic Journey is ideal for solo travellers wanting to explore the country top to bottom with a like-minded group of travellers. You’ll travel from Auckland to Queenstown, crossing the Cook Strait, and encountering all the beauty the country has to offer. You’ll begin with a wine tour on Waiheke Island, before heading to Rotorua to witness the impressive natural phenomena of geysers and worm-lit caves.
You’ll travel through unending landscapes that peak and trough, from glorious sparkling lakes in Taupo to snow-capped peaks at Milford Sound. You’ll immerse yourself in local life, visiting a rural sheep farm and dining at a family home. You’ll enjoy a treetop walk through the Hokitika Gorge and have the option to see the Franz Josef Glacier from a helicopter. You’ll end the trip with a gourmet picnic in the Southern Alps, coupled with breathtaking views.
What to pack for solo travel in New Zealand
New Zealand’s weather is changeable, especially between the North and South islands where climates can vary thanks to different weather fronts and geological landscapes. Lightweight and waterproof clothes are ideal for those wanting to explore the vast natural landscapes on hikes or trails, while a pair of hiking boots and collapsible trekking poles are both essentials. A sunhat and sunscreen are a must, especially if heading into the mountains, and a water bottle is useful as distances, like for the Tongariro Crossing, can be long (12 miles) so it’s important to rehydrate. You’ll need an adapter to fit plug sockets I (or a universal one). And, bring a good camera for capturing all those awe-inspiring moments.
Solo travel advice for New Zealand
New Zealand is an ideal place for solo travel, with a simple and efficient travel network that makes the key sights accessible, and limited language barriers with English predominantly spoken. There is a large Maori population and respecting the culture is vastly important, from asking permission before photographing traditional practices or ceremonies to being respectful of cultural customs. With Flash Pack, solo travellers have the security of a Pack Leader and the social aspect of the group to travel and explore with, making any journey part of the adventure. You’ll also be able to make use of their insider tips on in-the-know restaurants and experiences in your free time, especially if you chose to add on a few more solo days at the end of your trip.
Is it safe to travel solo in New Zealand?
Millions of visitors travel to New Zealand every year and most are trouble-free. However, do check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the latest advice before travelling. Once there, follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Whilst the crime rate is low and the country as a whole is very safe and tranquil, it’s still important to keep your wits about you, the same as you would at home. In the major cities, don’t walk along after dark if you can avoid it and don’t carry your valuables openly with you.
For those wanting to explore the natural surroundings, The NZ Mountain Safety Council offers useful advice for basic survival skills to keep safe if hiking or exploring alone. And Adventure Smart NZ has safety codes if travelling by land or water. While mobile phone coverage is good in built up areas, it’s advisable to let people know if you are venturing into the wilds alone. Buying or renting a distress beacon, which will immediately inform the emergency services if you’re in danger, is also critical. A group solo adventure will add an additional layer of safety to any trip, meaning you can travel through New Zealand’s other-worldly landscapes without having to worry about anything other than taking it all in.
Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel to New Zealand with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.
A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first time solo traveller or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.
Images: Unsplash, Adobe Stock, Scenic Hotel and Flash Pack