Solo Travel in New Zealand: How to Make it a Non-Solo Experience© Julian Apse - Tourism New Zealand
Solo Travel in New Zealand: How to Make it a Non-Solo Experience

Solo Travel in New Zealand: How to Make it a Non-Solo Experience

© Julian Apse – Tourism New Zealand

How to Have a Social Experience While Travelling Alone in New Zealand

Crossing to the other side of the world for a big trip is a pretty bold move. Doing it on your own is just damn ballsy! Travelling on your own is one of those rewarding experiences that not many of us get to do but it’s super rewarding if you take the leap. However, one thing that holds many of us back is the thought of being lonely or something goes wrong and having no one to turn to. Well, in this guide to solo travel in New Zealand, we’ll show you that travelling alone in New Zealand doesn’t necessarily have to be a lonely experience. With our tips and tools, we’ll show you how solo travel in New Zealand can actually be one of the most social experiences in your life!

In this guide, we’ll show you some easy ways to meet people, find other people to travel with, and even take the stressful part out of organising solo travel in New Zealand.

Before we begin, be sure to bookmark The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand for even more tips.

Why Travel Alone in New Zealand?

5 Seriously Good Reasons to Travel Alone in New Zealand

If you’re thinking of doing a solo trip in New Zealand (which we’re guessing is the case if you’re reading this article), then you’re onto a good thing. We’ll even go as far as saying that it’s the BEST way to travel in New Zealand and here are just a few reasons why…

  • Travel at your own pace – without having to worry what your travel companions want to do, travelling alone means you can truly make your trip your own
  • Gain independence – travelling on your own means you’re in charge and truly independent
  • Grow confidence – we all wish we had more confidence, right? You’ll certainly feel more confident after taking the leap to travel alone
  • Find yourself – Ok, so that’s totally cliche, but honestly, travelling alone helps you find passions and find out what you’re capable of
  • Meet more people – as a solo traveller, you actually end up meeting more people! That’s because someone alone is more approachable, plus, you’re more likely to put in the effort to talk to other people. We’ll go more into that below…

Need more convincing? Take a look at our 10 Reasons to Travel Alone in New Zealand.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

How to Have a Non-solo Experience

Although you’re arriving in the country alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone while you’re in New Zealand. There are many easy ways to meet people while in New Zealand, which we’ll go through in this article.

Spoiler alert: there are many people just like you travelling alone in New Zealand.

It’s true! Because of that very fact, there are other solo travellers out there that want to meet other solo travellers like you. You’ll find each other easily through your choice of transport, accommodation, work, activities and even online. Let’s go through them all now!

Pxhere© Pxhere

Meet People Before Arriving in New Zealand

Wait, what?! You may have heard, but the power of the Internet allows you to meet people from all over the world! One of the best places to find people that are going to be in New Zealand at the same time as you is via Facebook Groups. There are heaps of New Zealand backpacking Facebook Groups where people are finding travel buddies before they arrive in New Zealand. You can even ask if other travellers in your area are free for a hike, activity or a drink – just ask the question.

For some guidance on backpacking Facebook Group etiquette, take a look at the 15 Simple Tips to Kill It on Backpacking Facebook Groups.

Wild Kiwi© Wild Kiwi

Travel with a Backpacker Tour

Choosing the right way to get around the country is the easiest way to make friends on the road. While renting/buying a car or campervan is a popular option, this is a pretty lonely experience unless you put yourself out there to find some travel buddies. Plus, the national coach buses are more about getting a mix of locals and budget travellers from A to B rather than providing a social experience…

Alternatively, there are backpacker adventure tours. Hop on a tour with a bunch of like-minded travellers and you’ll instantly make friends! Adventure tours like those listed in The Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand put on trips for 18-35 year-olds so that they can experience the awesome scenery and epic activities together. Many of the passengers will be solo travellers too. What’s more, you won’t have the stresses of organising a whole travel itinerary on your own, with a guide who will support you all the way.©

Stay in Hostels

In backpacker hostels in New Zealand, there are communal areas and dorm rooms where people are pretty much unavoidable. That’s ideal for solo travel where you always have the opportunity to talk to other people. Sparking up conversations while making food in the communal kitchens or when you first check-in to your dorm room is the common thing to do in hostels.

Power tip: if you’re planning on doing a walk or another free activity, offer for people that you talk to in your hostel to join you! Backpackers don’t often say no to free things to do!

For more information on what it’s like to stay in a New Zealand hostel, head to What is a Hostel? A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels

Pxhere© Pxhere

Go to the Bar

It’s the universal establishment for socialising, so believe it or not, it’s a good place to meet people. We all know that alcohol is the ultimate social catalyst, but whether you’re drinking or not, there are plenty of Kiwi bars where you can meet other people.

When there’s a pub quiz, a pool competition or other bar events, these make socialising with others in the bar even easier. However, to meet other solo travellers like yourself, hit the backpacker bars in the main cities like Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo and Queenstown. There are even backpacker bar crawls in Auckland and Queenstown where you know you’ll be onto a winner.

Find out more in 9 Great Backpacker Bars in New Zealand.

Pxhere© Pxhere

Pack Some Playing Cards

Games: they’re a great way to bring strangers together. In any hostel or hiking trail huts, you often see a bunch of people looking board. Be the one that offers to play a card game. You’ll be their saviour, you’ll break the ice, and it’s a lot of fun! All you need is a deck of playing cards and a couple of games up your sleeve (and you need to be able to explain how to play them, of course).

Lost for car game ideas? Take a look at this perfect traveller card game.

pexels© pexels

Get a Job!

In New Zealand on a working holiday visa? Your workmates are probably going to be the people that you share the most experiences with! The most social jobs are those where you work as part of a team or work with customers.

If you’re looking for a job to meet people, here are some suggestions:

  • Hospitality – working in a bar or restaurant often means working with customers AND a team. Boom!
  • Fruit picking – often attracting other backpackers too, fruit picking is a seasonal job to make a quick buck while working in teams. You might find some travel buddies for after the picking season ends too!
  • WWOOFing – this is work for accommodation where you stay with a Kiwi family and help with tasks. It’s a great way to spend time with the locals.
  • Construction – New Zealand’s main cities are always looking for teams of backpackers to help with construction.
  • Ski field workwork on a New Zealand ski field, learn to ski and spend time with workers who all share a passion.

For more about the working holiday experience in New Zealand, check out our Work in New Zealand section.

Pexels© Pexels

Get Out There!

Already by travelling to New Zealand, you are getting yourself out there. You’re exposing yourself to meeting new people in loads of different situations. However, if you still feel that you need more of that human-to-human contact, just remember to keep getting out there. Talk to people when you’re on hikes – people are often happy to see another face after hiking in the wilderness for a while. Do activities or tours which involves groups of other people. It’s rare that you find a tour that will just have you on it!

Every time you go out and start exploring New Zealand is a chance to meet new people.


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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