The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand©
The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand

The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand


Your Best Travel Partner is You!

When browsing the World Wide Web or scrolling through social media on anything to do with travel, chances are you will come across the words: “solo female travel”. This is the buzz phrase of the backpacking community. Travel blogs and social media accounts thrive off this theme, with the idea that solo female travel is a scary thing yet a heroic accomplishment.

With girls facing different dangers to what guys face in some countries, there has clearly been a stigma against women travelling alone for their own safety. But what about travelling alone in New Zealand? This guide to solo female travel in New Zealand is split into two parts; about the safety of solo female travel in New Zealand and some female-specific travel tips for New Zealand. Let’s begin!

Why New Zealand is the Perfect Place for Your First Solo Trip

New Zealand is the perfect place to travel alone, especially for your first big trip alone.

And if you need more reasons, check out 10 Reasons to Travel Alone in New Zealand.

Part 1: Should You Travel New Zealand as a Solo Female Traveller?

Cecilia Lindqvist© Cecilia Lindqvist

Is Solo Female Travel Common in New Zealand?

Thinking of travelling in New Zealand alone? You are not the only one. Both males and females venture off to New Zealand alone. No matter what country you are from, what your age is, whether you’re male or female, if you are seen by yourself or known to be “travelling alone”, people will not look twice. You’re not anything special! Except in your own little way.

In fact, travelling alone has become more of a trend in recent years. For example, found that 72% of American women travelled on their own in 2018 (before the pandemic). More than half (55%) of Google searches for “solo travel” come from women, and most of these are millennials. Even from a New Zealander’s perspective, travelling alone is the way to travel as a recent survey from Skyscanner New Zealand found that 71% of Kiwis have travelled solo overseas. In short, travelling as a solo female traveller in New Zealand is nothing out of the ordinary here.


Is New Zealand Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

The unnecessary fear of girls travelling alone has been heightened by high-profile violent stories in the media of women who have been alone away from home, such as Sarai Sierra who was murdered while travelling in Turkey in 2013. There are also incidents in conservative countries where women who are alone stereotypically means they are promiscuous, which can lead to sexual assault.

New Zealand follows a Western culture where being a single woman is a pretty common thing. People travelling from different countries to New Zealand tend to understand this also. In fact, New Zealand is one of the most liberal countries in the world by being the first to allow women to vote in government elections and has held three women in powerful government positions simultaneously.

That said, it doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and act all naively! Drunkenly letting a group of dodgy strangers know where you’re staying or taking the creepy dark alley route back home at night can be risky anywhere in the world. Clearly, this is not an issue of just “females travelling alone” but for anyone of any gender or non-gender. Regardless, New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world to travel in so it is extremely rare to hear of backpackers being attacked.

9 Safety Tips for Women Travelling Solo in New Zealand

  1. Choose Safe Accommodations: The best way to get no trouble is to put yourself in a “no-trouble” situation. Opt for well-reviewed accommodations in safe neighbourhoods. Look for hostels or hotels with good security measures, like 24-hour front desks, and female-only dorms if that makes you feel more comfortable.
  2. Stay Connected: Get a local SIM card or a portable WiFi device to ensure you always have access to communication and GPS. This can be crucial for emergencies and staying in touch with loved ones. As a side note, know the emergency numbers in New Zealand (dial 111 for police, fire, or medical emergencies). Save it in your phone and/or write it down.
  3. Inform Someone About Your Itinerary: Speaking of staying connected, share your travel plans with a trusted friend or family member. Let them know where you’ll be staying, your itinerary, and when they can expect to hear from you.
  4. Trust Your Instincts: You are usually your own best asset, so if a situation or person doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and remove yourself from it. New Zealand is generally safe, but it’s essential to be cautious wherever you are.
  5. Dress Appropriately: Although there are no real cultural reasons to dress one way or another, the biggest concern for “dressing appropriately” is New Zealand’s changeable weather. This can be a safety concern in itself, so check out Outdoor Safety When Hiking in New Zealand for more tips on the subject.
  6. Blend in: If you want to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself, don’t “underdress”. This can help you avoid unwanted attention and is one of the easiest ways to stay safe while travelling.
  7. Stay Hydrated and Well-Fed: Keep yourself nourished and hydrated, especially when hiking or engaging in outdoor activities. Carry snacks and water with you, as access to food and water can be limited in some areas. It’s too easy to get bad eating habits on the go despite how important it is to keep a healthy diet while travelling, don’t fall into that trap.
  8. Join Group Tours: If you’re concerned about safety but do not have a travel buddy, consider joining organised group tours for some activities or parts of your trip. It’s a great way to meet fellow travellers and have a sense of security. A “solo” trip does not mean you have to stay alone at all times. It is just a great excuse to meet people from new horizons and make new and unexpected friends.
  9. Secure Your Belongings: Use lockable luggage and keep your belongings secure to minimise the risk of theft as women tend to be more targeted than men when it comes to theft, not that it is a big issue in New Zealand at all…

Remember, New Zealand is known for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere, and solo female travellers often have positive experiences. However, it’s always important to prioritise safety and be prepared for any situation that may arise during your journey.

The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand© Unsplash

Why You SHOULD Travel Solo in New Zealand as a Woman

Travelling solo in New Zealand, or any destination, can be a great experience for women for several reasons. The psychology behind it and the mental benefits associated with solo travel can be profound. Now breaking the proverbial 4th wall of this travel guide, let me share my 10 takeaways from my first-ever solo trip to New Zealand:

  1. Empowerment and Independence: Solo travel allows women to challenge themselves, step out of their comfort zones, and become more self-reliant. This empowerment can boost self-confidence and a sense of independence.
  2. Self-Discovery: Travelling alone provides an opportunity for self-discovery. It allows women to learn more about themselves, their strengths, and their capabilities. This can lead to personal growth and a deeper understanding of one’s own desires and ambitions.
  3. Increased Self-Esteem: Overcoming challenges during solo travel, such as navigating a new culture or trying adventurous activities, can lead to a significant increase in self-esteem. Achieving goals independently can be a powerful confidence booster.
  4. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Women who travel solo often develop strong problem-solving skills. They learn to adapt to unexpected situations, make decisions, and manage their resources effectively, all of which can translate into everyday life.
  5. Cultural Sensitivity and Open-Mindedness: Solo travel exposes women to different cultures and perspectives. This experience fosters cultural sensitivity, open-mindedness, and a broader worldview. It can also reduce biases and stereotypes.
  6. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: While travel can be stressful, solo travellers often report reduced stress and anxiety during their journeys. The freedom to make their own choices and the lack of compromise can lead to a more relaxed and fulfilling experience.
  7. Stronger Resilience: Facing challenges and uncertainties during solo travel helps build resilience. Women learn to adapt to new environments, cope with setbacks, and bounce back from disappointments.
  8. Sense of Accomplishment: Successfully navigating a foreign country on one’s own can instil a profound sense of accomplishment. This feeling of achievement can boost overall life satisfaction.
  9. Freedom and Self-Care: Traveling alone allows women to focus on self-care and personal interests without the demands of others. It provides an opportunity to recharge and do what brings joy and relaxation.
  10. Positive Impact on Mental Health: Many women find that solo travel has a positive impact on their mental health. It can be a break from daily routines and stressors, leading to reduced anxiety and increased happiness.

It’s important to note that the benefits of solo travel can vary from person to person, and not all women may have the same experiences as I did. While solo travel can be an incredibly enriching and empowering experience, it’s essential to prioritise safety and make informed decisions while on the journey. Ultimately, solo travel can be a transformative and life-enriching adventure, offering women the chance to explore the world and themselves in a unique way.

The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand©

Solo Female Travel: Is it Really the Biggest Achievement of Travelling?

The achievement of travelling alone in New Zealand is certainly not defined by gender. The achievement comes from leaving everything you know to explore unfamiliar territory something a lot of us find hard to do. But once accomplished and once in New Zealand having the time of your life, you realise how incredibly easy it was.

Part 2: Solo Female Travel Guide to New Zealand

The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand©

Girls’ Packing List for New Zealand

Backpack or Suitcase?

First things first, you need to be able to carry what you pack. In New Zealand, it’s not essential to carry a backpack as opposed to a wheeled suitcase. However, for those who want to go on multi-day hikes or travel and stay in places outside of cities where the tar-sealed ground is lacking, using a backpack is the way to go. We go through a full list of pros and cons in Backpack Vs Suitcase: Which Should You Take to New Zealand?

If you opt for a backpack, make sure it’s not too big. Anything over 70 L is too much. Somewhere between 50 and 60 L is enough to fit the essentials and be able to carry it. See what to look for when choosing a backpack in How to Choose a Good Backpack.

What Clothes to Pack for New Zealand

Remember, pack what you can comfortably carry. Pack according to different situations you are likely to be in: outdoor clothes, casual clothing, clothing suitable for work/job interviews (if you’re on a Working Holiday Visa), swimwear, clothes for sleeping in and maybe something a little more “flash” for nights out. On the subject of nights out, New Zealand bars and clubs are very casual – there is no need to pack heels as they take up too much room, and many backpackers tend to just wear tidy casual clothing rather than dresses.

For some of us, we can get six months into our trip and be sick of wearing the same clothes. So do other backpackers. Therefore, there will be opportunities to swap clothes with friends and get rid of unwanted items in the “Free” box in a hostel. What’s more, second-hand shops, otherwise known as op-shops, are plentiful with huge selections so you donate your old clothes and buy new clothes for just a few bucks.

For a full packing list, take a look at What Clothes to Pack to Travel in New Zealand.

The Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel in New Zealand© Pexels

Health and Beauty

What Cosmetics to Pack for New Zealand

This is personal to everyone but there are a few things that girls travelling in New Zealand may want to think about.

Birth Control

Before coming to New Zealand, it is worth having a check-up with your doctor to not only make sure that you are not likely to have any nasty surprises while travelling but also to discuss your birth control options. The contraceptive pill is a popular option, but bear in mind that by crossing such dramatic time zones, you will be taking your pill at a different time of day in New Zealand. Plus, with such a change of lifestyle, remembering to take your pill at the correct time can be tough, so you may want to look into other contraceptive methods such as the implant. However, the implant and contraceptive pills do not protect you from STIs, so using a condom is essential. You don’t want to come home from New Zealand with a gruesome souvenir…

If you decide that you want to start using the contraceptive pill in New Zealand, or you need more of the medication, then you can visit a New Zealand doctor to write you a prescription. There will be a few costs involved but they are affordable. Be sure to check out How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.

Bringing Medication into New Zealand

If you have any prescribed medications from home, it is a good idea to stock up on these and bring them to New Zealand. You can bring up to three months’ worth of prescribed medication through Biosecurity in New Zealand; any more and you will need a note from your doctor. More information is in Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in New Zealand. If you find that you need to get more prescribed medication while you are in New Zealand, just follow our advice in How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.

Feminine Products

New Zealand supermarkets, pharmacies, corner stores and even some hostels have sanitary towels, liners and tampons for sale, so there is no need to pack too many feminine products. To save money and space and be more environmentally friendly while you travel, why not consider using a menstrual cup? It takes a couple of cycles to get used to but it will change your life! Otherwise, discuss with your doctor about taking the contraceptive pill continuously to avoid having periods altogether!

Beauty Products and Cosmetics

What beauty products and cosmetics you use is entirely up to you, but we recommend keeping them to a minimum. Of course, hygiene is important to your health, so you will want to pack soap and shampoo. A small bottle of hand sanitiser is useful if you plan on doing multi-day hikes, as are insect repellent and sunscreen for any time you spend outdoors in New Zealand. Did you know it only takes about seven minutes for the sun to burn you in New Zealand? Remember, all these essential cosmetics can be bought in New Zealand stores.

As for items like hairdryers, most accommodations have hairdryers in their bathrooms or at least you can borrow one from reception. Some may even have hair straighteners.

First Aid Kit

We recommend packing a small first aid kit for yourself. You don’t need to go too crazy, but band-aids, antiseptic cream, paracetamol and ibuprofen are a good place to start. We have some suggestions in Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.

Travel Insurance for New Zealand

Finally, although travel insurance might seem like a waste of money, if you really want peace of mind when travelling so far away from home, then we suggest choosing comprehensive travel insurance covering medical expenses. Find out more about affordable medical insurance in How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance for New Zealand.

Pexels© Pexels

Where to Stay as a Female Travellers

Where you stay as a female traveller is a personal choice. To stick to a limited budget, most female backpackers stay in hostels.

New Zealand is a backpacking and holidaying destination for people from all over the world from many different cultures. With that in mind, it’s easy to find backpacker hostels with female-only dorm rooms. In almost all hostels in New Zealand, there are separate male and female toilet and shower facilities.

Although female-only dorms are for the comfort of female travellers, they are in no way a necessity, as most people stay in mixed dorms. With the usual range of 4 to 12 beds, mixed dorms are considered safe for all guests at cheap rates.

Learn more about staying in a hostel in What is a Hostel? A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand.

If hostels aren’t for you, then there are many great options for accommodation in New Zealand while sticking to a budget. Check out 10 Damn Good Alternatives to Hostels.

Cecilia Lindqvist© Cecilia Lindqvist

Travelling Alone Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Alone

Ok, so you started the journey to New Zealand by yourself, but that’s where being alone can end if you want it to. As discussed above, there are many solo travellers in New Zealand who are open to making new friends. While some backpackers take a trip together for just a day, others will know each other for life! You can make so many different friendships here.

Staying in Hostels and Joining Group Tours

Meeting new people while travelling or on a working holiday in New Zealand is especially easy in backpacker hostels, as you are with like-minded people. There are also tourism companies, like working holiday travel programs and the hop-on hop-off buses where you are certain to meet other solo travellers too. Find out more ways to meet people in the 10 Ways to Meet People When Travelling Alone in New Zealand.

Meeting People on a Working Holiday

With the Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand, you are entitled to work and travel. This means making some workmates along the way! Honestly, these are just some of the situations where you meet people. You’re even likely to make friends in the unlikeliest of places. That’s the beauty of travelling.

More About Solo Female Travel in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to solo female travel in New Zealand. For more tips, take a look at the following:

Now that you are convinced that travelling to New Zealand alone is absolutely an awesome idea, start planning with The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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