Working Holiday Starter© Working Holiday Starter
Working Holiday Starter

9 Ways to Meet People When Travelling Alone in New Zealand

© Working Holiday Starter

How to Meet People When Travelling in New Zealand

“Just because you are travelling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely” is a quote you’ve probably seen a thousand times when reading about solo travel. But we can’t stress how true that is! By following our almost effortless tips below on the different ways to meet people when travelling alone in New Zealand, you will find some travel buddies in no time.

Believe it or not, you are not the only person who has decided to travel solo in New Zealand. There are other travellers from all over the world doing exactly the same thing and are just as eager to meet new people. This isn’t like it might be at home, where the very notion of speaking to a stranger is returned with looks of horror and disgust. You know fellow backpackers are open-minded by the fact that they are doing the open-minded act of exploring a new country, while Kiwis have a worldwide reputation of being welcoming.

You might have started this trip to New Zealand alone but it doesn’t have to be a trip you do alone if you don’t want it to be.

1. Go to the Bar

Simple enough, right? It’s no secret that alcohol is the ultimate social catalyst. Nevertheless, whether you are drinking or not, (Kiwis and other travellers in New Zealand are not usually judgemental), you can still have a fun night out. To make meeting people even easier, go to bar events. Many bars have pool contests or quiz nights where you’ll get to play with people that you have never met before. Plus, backpacker bar crawls are practically made for travellers to meet other travellers!

Check out the 8 Best Backpacker Bars in New Zealand for popular places for international travellers to meet up!

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2. Hang Out at Your Hostel

It seems all too obvious, but it works! Remember, your hostel is practically a base for like-minded backpackers – many of which will be travelling alone too. Don’t be afraid to talk to your roommates, strike up a conversation in the kitchen, or join in on a card game in the common room, for example. Asking people if they want to come with you for a walk or a visit to a museum is a great way to find a travel buddy for the day. (This mostly works with free or cheap activities, though). Food is always a winner too! Offer a meal to someone when you have made too much or asking to borrow some salt when you have finished yours is a good icebreaker.

New to staying in hostels? Make sure you wise up with our What is a Hostel? A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.©

3. Travel by Bus

Travelling around New Zealand on a hop-on hop-off bus tour or a guided backpacker bus tour, like any of the ones we list in The Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand, you are instantly teamed up with a group of people to travel and do activities with. This is where strong friendships are made, as you will be sharing one of the best experiences of your life together!©

4. Do a Group Tour or Group Activity

You came to New Zealand to do some awesome experiences, right?! Doing group tours/activities like white water rafting, caving tours, surf lessons, Lord of the Rings tours, horse trekking, cruises or whatever, means that you will be meeting other travellers with at least one similar interest. Accomplishing an adventure activity or discovering something new together through a tour is a way to make an instant connection with people. Plus, chances are, they are staying in the same area as you for a couple of days, so ask to meet up after the tour!

Need inspiration for activities in New Zealand? Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in New Zealand for Backpackers.

How to Meet People When Backpacking in New Zealand©

5. Join a Backpacking Facebook Group

The backpacker community is tight and loves sharing tips, especially on Facebook Groups like this one. We love the fact that you guys are sharing your tips, asking for rides, looking for travel buddies, and even selling your cars all in one place.

For more tips on how to be active in such a community, see the 15 Simple Tips to Kill It on Backpacking Facebook Groups.

8 Ways to Meet People When Travelling Alone in New Zealand©

6. Get a Job

Bonding with your coworkers over how annoying your boss is is one of the best ways to create long-lasting friendship… For those of you on a working holiday, meeting people is super important since you’re going to be in New Zealand for a while! You’ll have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people by getting a job.

Of course, the type of job or volunteer work you do, as well as the town you work in, depends on the sort of people you will meet, so keep that in mind. If you work in a touristy area, like Queenstown or Wellington, you’re likely to be working with other international travellers. Working in a small town that you didn’t know existed before you arrived in New Zealand? Then this is a great opportunity to meet the locals.

Start planning your job search with our How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand.©

7. Do Some WWOOFing

It’s hard to not meet locals when you are living with them! WWOOFing is working with a family or on a farm in exchange for food and accommodation. You’ll get to bond with the family and/or other volunteers.

Find out more at Everything You Need to Know About WWOOFing in New Zealand.

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8. Live in Shared Accommodation

Renting a room in a house or flat with other people is another great way to meet more people while you are on a working holiday alone. When you have a job, stay in some longer-term accommodation with others so you: a) save money and b) have some people to hang out with after work!

For more tips on how to find shared accommodation, check out our Long-Term Accommodation section.

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9. Do Your Working Holiday with a Program

If you want to meet people right from the beginning of your working holiday, then there are many working holiday companies that you can arrive in New Zealand along with other backpackers. Not only are there people usually doing the program with you, but the programs also offer tons of support services throughout your gap year. You can find more information on New Zealand Gap Year: Use a Working Holiday Program or Do It Yourself? For the social side, we recommend Working Holiday Starter who put their members in touch with each other all over New Zealand, so there is a fellow backpacker to welcome you when arriving in a new town.

Working Holiday Starter© Working Holiday Starter


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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