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The Girls’ Guide to Backpacking in New Zealand

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Girls Backpacking in New Zealand

Female travel is such a buzz word in the backpacking world at the moment, and sure, there may be a few things that girls will need to consider when backpacking in New Zealand than guys don’t. Girls backpacking in New Zealand may want to think about what to pack, whether New Zealand is safe for female travellers, and well as what birth control and feminine products are available in New Zealand. We cover all this and more in this girls’ guide to backpacking in New Zealand!

If you’re travelling to New Zealand alone, that’s awesome! You might want to check out Can a Girl Travel Alone in New Zealand? for a boost of confidence. Both males and females commonly travel to New Zealand alone but it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely with these 8 Ways to Meet People When Travelling Alone in New Zealand.

So for all your female-related backpacking stuff, take a look at the guide below!

5 Top Travel Hacks for Girls Backpacking in New Zealand

  • Look out for “ladies night” in bars and clubs for discounts and free entry
  • If you’re uncomfortable sharing a room with guys, look out for hostels with female-only dorms
  • Pack versatile clothing that you can wear in a variety of ways
  • You can bring up to six months worth of contraceptive pills into New Zealand
  • Opportunity shops in New Zealand, or op-shops, are huge! You can easily swap your outfit for a few bucks.

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Girls’ Packing List for New Zealand

Backpack or Suitcase?

First thing’s 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, then 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 70L is too much. Somewhere between 50-60L 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: outdoors clothes, casual clothing, clothing suitable for work/job interviews, 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.

It’s likely that six months into your trip, you will be sick of wearing the same clothes. So are other backpackers, so 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.

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Health and Beauty

What Cosmetics to Pack for New Zealand

This is personal to everyone but there are few things that girls backpacking 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 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!

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 of 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 due to the hole in the O-zone layer just between New Zealand and Australia? 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 in Medical and Travel Insurance for New Zealand.

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Safety in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the safest countries for solo female travel. New Zealand follows a Western culture that sees females being on their own as common, unlike what you might find in conservative countries. In fact, New Zealand is pretty liberal by being the first country in the world to give women the vote in political elections. Attacks on female travellers are extremely uncommon in New Zealand.

Saying that, it is still smart to use commonsense like not taking the creepy dark alley route back to your hostel after a night out or accepting lifts from people that you don’t feel comfortable with.

Read Can a Girl Travel Alone in New Zealand? and Hitchhiking in New Zealand for some more safety tips for New Zealand. If spending any time hiking, check out Outdoor Safety When Hiking in New Zealand.

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Where to Stay as a Female Backpacker

Where you stay as a female backpacker is a personal choice. To stick to a limited budget, most female backpackers stay in hostels. Hostels more commonly have mixed dorm rooms with both males and females sharing a room. However, many hostels have a female-only dorm, should you prefer to stick with the girls. To see what it’s like to stay in a hostel, check out How to Live in a Hostel.

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.


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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