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

Check out our current top picks


Conservation Volunteering in New Zealand

from £815

14 days

New Zealand

Head to gorgeous New Zealand and travel out to project sites on the North or South Island, or why not...

Work and Travel in New Zealand

from £945

365 days

New Zealand

Head to NZ to live and work as a local!Our team will assist you with necessary paperwork, job finding and...

Ski Instructor Training Course

from £4000

30 - 120 days

New Zealand

Training courses are the perfect way to improve your skiing ability, gain international certifications and a fun way to spend your...

Short-Term University Study in New Zealand

from £7000

120 days

New Zealand

Tester semester allows you to enroll at a New Zealand university for just one term. If you are trying to...

Ultimate Explorer

from £2150

28 days

New Zealand

Top rated by National Geographic this is the best way to explore the outdoor beauty and excitement of New Zealand....

Hot Rocks – North Island Adventure

from £900

9 - 10 days

New Zealand

Experience the best of the North Island on this unique tour which combines accommodation in stunning locations with optional activities,...

Ultimate New Zealand Gap Year

from £510

8 days

New Zealand

Our Ultimate NZ working holiday package will blow your mind! Experience a week of fun with people from all over...

Southern Light – South Island

from £1188

9 - 10 days

New Zealand

If your visiting the South islands and want a shorter trip that ensures you will enjoy New Zealand’s finest natural...

Grand Traverse – Both Islands

from £1400

15 days

New Zealand

In 2 weeks launching from Auckland you will see the best of both islands with a unique combination of camping...

Summer Blast – South Island

from £1687

16 - 19 days

New Zealand

Experience the best of the South Island on this all points covered tour with stunning accommodation, amazing hikes, awesome bike...

Latest advice and inspiration for New Zealand

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


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.

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.

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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