A Gap Year in New Zealand

Why go backpacking in New Zealand?

Okay, so you probably know New Zealand as Middle Earth. But the reality of its scenery is just as incredible, and the endless list of exhilarating activities you can enjoy all over it makes backpacking in New Zealand the ultimate travel experience.

There’s a well-worn backpacker trail here, including group tours, budget accommodation, and transport around and between the North and South Island.

Outside of the natural landscapes, cities like Wellington and Auckland offer plenty of hostels and bars for backpackers to meet up, drink a few beers, and drunkenly plan a New Zealand gap year.

Things to do in New Zealand

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The World Escape

from £1,579.00

From 30 days

The best way to see North America and maybe even squeeze in a ski season, before heading to Australia to...

Amplified New Zealand Tour

from £1,490.00

16 days

Jam-packed experience across New Zealand's top destinations in just over two weeks. Golden beaches, Māori culture, surreal landscapes and a...

New Zealand Mountain Bike Tour

from £2,365.00

16 days

The best of the North. The best of the South. They both come together over an epic 16 days to...

The Classic Gap Year

from £6,199.00

From 70 days

This classic gap year adventure offers up the best of three of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world:...

7 Days Southern Voyager

from £639.00

7 days

Slalom through the South Island on a 7-day tour like never before. 7 days in our luxury vehicle soaking up...

South Island Mountain Bike Tour

from £1,025.00

7 days

The South Island is renowned for its outstanding beauty and adventures. Plant your feet on your pedals as you take...

Ultimate Explorer – Total New Zealand

from £2,300.00

27 - 28 days

Quite possibly the best way you can see the real NZ and top rated by National Geographic. This trip combines...

Reverse Traverse – Both Islands

from £1,300.00

14 - 450 days

Experience both islands starting from South to North. Combine amazing national parks with accommodation in stunning locations and heaps of...

The Ultimate Roadtripper

from £1,899.00

21 - 360 days

Head overland from Nairobi to Jo'burg, Cairns to Sydney and Los Angeles to New York. We've basically put together all...

7 Day Northern Voyager New Zealand

from £639.00

7 days

Our AWESOME GUIDES have hunted out all the very best spots on the North Island to give you the most...

Latest advice and inspiration for New Zealand

Check out what our writers have been up to in New Zealand

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The Cities

Wellington has earned itself the title of ‘the coolest little capital‘ and for good reason. Cuba Street has all the bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and vintage shops you could want, and you can relax afterwards on the beach at Scorching Bay or by heading into the simulated wilds of Zealandia, before hitting the town on a night out.

New Zealand Wellington view

Auckland has similarly vibrant nightlife, as well as offering beautiful waterfront and beaches, a park based around an extinct volcano, and amazing views from the top of Sky Tower. You can also visit the garden city of Christchurch, wild and pungent Rotorua, or picturesque Dunedin.

The Scenery

It’s impossible to summarise New Zealand’s ridiculous scenery in a couple of lines. There’s Tongariro National Park, home to three major volcanoes, the frozen landscapes of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the wet and blustery Fiordland (i.e. Middle Earth) and its peaceful, postcard perfect Milford Sound, or Ninety Mile Beach on North Island.

New Zealand mountains

There’s so much to see, and so many ways to see it, that a gap year in New Zealand will offer something completely different each day. On Monday you can go black water rafting through the glowing tunnels of the Waitomo caves, Tuesday and Wednesday can be spent accomplishing a two day hike in Milford Sound National park, Thursday is time for some relaxation in the Ngawha hot springs, picking the pace up on Friday by going skydiving over Lake Taupo.

Adventurous backpackers should also challenge themselves to hike the snow capped Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, bungee jump from the AJ Hackett site – the world’s first bungee spot, go kayaking on the Nelson Lakes, Zorb down steep hills, surf on the waves at Wainui beach, or spend a day or two exploring the sets of Lord of the Rings in Wellington.  We weren’t kidding; the list really does goes on and on.

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