My New Zealand trip was not planned with hiking in mind – and I regret it! I didn’t bring a tent, sleeping bag, or any gear necessary for a serious outdoorsy trip. I’ve been hiking in sneakers and of course my signature footwear, Blundstones. If I had done a bit of research before coming here I would have realized how perfect New Zealand is for backpacking – whether you want to get your feet wet in the world of hiking or are an experienced multi-day tramper, this country is full of tracks for different levels with extraordinarily stunning views. Here are a few reasons to why New Zealand is perfect for a solo backpacker.
1. There are people everywhere
If being alone in the woods is something you find scary or intimidating, there are many day hikes and multi-day tracks full of travelers. Popular multi-day hikes include the Abel Tasman Track and Routeburne Track, both in the south island. One day on Abel Tasman I didn’t go more than 5 minutes without seeing another person! This is perfect for a first-time solo backpacker.
2. Animals are small (and harmless)
I grew up in upstate New York, so this is a great relief for me. I have seen many bears while running and hiking and growing up we learned many tips and techniques to handle potentially dangerous encounters. New Zealand does not have bears, and what is more, they don’t have many animals that can really harm you. New Zealand, unlike neighboring Australia isn’t ridden with large predators and poisonous spiders. The worst I’ve had is a few run-ins with seagulls and Kia birds trying to steal my lunch. Remember to bring bug spray (the sandflies are vicious) but otherwise your good to go!
3. Trails are clearly marked (DOC ones, that is)
The majority of trails in New Zealand are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), a public organization that supports and facilitates outdoor activities and recreation. They also operate most fee-required camping spots. Tracks maintained by the DOC are very well kept and clearly marked with the name of the track and walking time to destination.
4. You don’t need to camp (but you can if you want to)
Popular hikes like Abel Tasman, Heaphy Track, Routeburn, and near the famous Mount Cook have many huts along the track. These tracks are a convenient option for novice hikers, those without a tent, or simply to escape a night of rainy weather. And it’s makes the hike much lighter without carrying a tent! Huts do not provide linens so you will need a sleeping bag and warm clothes. Most huts have cooking facilities and clean water.
New Zealand is the most ideal destination for a solo backpacker or hiking trip. I have never seen such untouched and diverse landscapes that almost seem as though you are on a different planet (or a character in Jurassic Park or Lord of the Rings). Take a leap and book that ticket, you won’t regret it!
Learn more about traveling in New Zealand.