8 Surprising Reasons Why Backpacking Around New Zealand Is Better Than Driving


Winnie Chong •  Jul 11, 2018

Whether you’re an avid the Lord of the Rings fan, a rugby fan or just a traveler eager to discover the beauty of the world, a trip to New Zealand is bound to satisfy your wanderlust. With a myriad of picturesque destinations to visit and activities to indulge in, no wonder New Zealand is often one’s must-visit country in the world ?! While it is common for travellers to drive around New Zealand, backpacking could be the better option for you to experience the country at its best without breaking the bank.

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Yes, you read that right – backpacking around New Zealand where sheep outnumber people is your best bet for THE adventure of your lifetime!

Why opt to backpack around New Zealand instead of driving, though?

1. Budget-friendly

Backpacking is a great way to explore a country without burning a deep hole in your pocket. With that said, it is possible to experience the culture and sights in New Zealand on a tight budget. For starters, you can choose to travel on public transport to get around the country instead of driving. That way, you get to save on extra cash by eliminating petrol, insurance and car rental costs.

Couple that with cheap accommodation and food options to choose from, rest assured you get to enjoy traveling around New Zealand without monetary concerns.

All you need is proper planning and you are good to go!

[Do check this out for more awesome tips to conquer New Zealand on a budget!]

2. Traveler-friendly and safe, even on public transportation

New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world with a relatively low crime rate. It is incredibly traveler-friendly, whether you are backpacking solo or in a group. As such, you can heavily depend on public transportation instead of driving to get around New Zealand without jeopardising your safety. With its impressive ranking as the fourth safest country in the world, New Zealand boasts of political and social stability.

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As long as you exercise common sense and normal safety precautions, you can put your mind at ease when traveling in the country. Let loose and admire the beauty of New Zealand’s diverse landscapes – from steep fiords, pristine lakes, snow-capped mountains to active volcanoes – without worrying about your safety.

[Check this out for natural wonders in New Zealand that you have to visit!]

3. Great accessibility without the need to drive

With the extensive public transport network in New Zealand, it is easy to get from one place to another without having to drive. The most popular alternative to driving in New Zealand is to travel on buses – the cheapest and most convenient mode of transport in the country. Intercity buses are aplenty; servicing the main towns and providing great routes for sightseeing at the same time. Regional shuttle buses service the smaller towns, offering greater accessibility and navigation around the country.

For a different experience, you may opt for train travel in New Zealand. Train journeys are often scenic, allowing you to witness beautiful landscapes otherwise unseen on roads. Get your cameras clicking away without having to worry about taking your hands off the wheel!

4. Well-developed infrastructures

As a developed country, the infrastructures in New Zealand are rather advanced. For travelers, Tourism New Zealand has coordinated the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre Network in the country. It comprises over 80 centres nationwide providing travelers and locals alike with comprehensive and up-to-date information. These centres act as a a hub of information on local attractions and activities. Also, they provide booking services for attractions and activities in addition to accommodation and transportation in the city. Thus, i-SITEs are often referred to as landmarks in each city in New Zealand, serving as main pick-up points for service providers.

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Backpackers can fully utilize these services provided by the i-SITES; from obtaining free maps to getting the best deals while traveling in the country.

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There really is no need to drive to get to your destination, all you need is the abundance of information that can be obtained at the i-SITES and off you go!

5. Relaxing as a passenger

The beauty about backpacking instead of driving is the opportunity to sit back and relax during your journey. As driving in New Zealand can take hours on end, it can be tiring to be the one behind the wheel. Opting to travel on public transportation means you can relax on the move as a passenger and truly enjoy the beautiful New Zealand scenery. The responsibility of driving does not fall on you; hence you can take all the rest you need while on the go.

No matter how tired you may be from all the traveling, take comfort in knowing that you are in the safe hands of the professional drivers when traveling on public transportation. With comfortable seats in air-conditioned cabins or coaches, you can count on the local public transport to get you to your destination safely while you get your well-deserved rest onboard!

6. Opportunity to meet new friends

When traveling on public transport in New Zealand, chances are you would meet other like-minded travellers and backpackers along the way. While navigating through unknown lands and new places can be intimidating, having the help of other travellers during your journey can make the experience less scary.

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With the mutual interest in trying new things and discovering new places, it is easy to bond with the new friends you meet during that bus ride across town or in the train towards the outskirts. Driving hardly provides the same opportunity as you are likely to travel in the same car with only the people you know, making it hard for you to meet new friends.

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Who knows the people you meet while traveling may turn out to be your best buddies in the future? ?

7. Being out of your comfort zone

While driving can seem like the easy way out to accommodate your route plans and itinerary, relying on public transport can bring about the same outcome. You may feel uncomfortable to solely depend on public transport in New Zealand especially if you have been comfortable driving in your own country. However, stepping out of your comfort zone means pushing yourself in unfamiliar places and doing things that you normally won’t do.

Not only will you learn a thing or two along the process, getting outside of your comfort levels enables you to experience new things and meet new people. If you are an adrenaline junkie, New Zealand is the perfect place for you to go bungy-jumping, skydiving or skiing!

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These experiences are going to define you as a person, and the memories gained will be etched in your mind forever.

[Get out of your comfort zone, take a look at this for more jaw-dropping activities in New Zealand!]

8. Flexibility

For independent travellers, the flexibility of having your own itinerary may appeal to you. Although self-driving offers the utmost flexibility of traveling at your own pace, the same purpose can be achieved on hop-on hop-off backpacker buses.

For the unfamiliar, one of the most exhilarating experiences you can get when traveling in New Zealand is stopping to take in the beautiful landscapes and photo opportunities. Hence, hopping on one of these buses is an excellent way to travel around New Zealand. You get to hop off whenever you feel like getting out, whether to take pictures of the beautiful sunset outside the window or just to spend some time in a small town. Just hop on the next bus when you are ready to continue your journey!

Your trusty driver-guide can provide great insights on each town that the bus stops by, at the same time extend their knowledge of New Zealand with you along the way. This immense input can come in handy should you have any problems when traveling in the country.

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There you have it, all the more reasons you should backpack in New Zealand instead of driving. Ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in New Zealand? Witness the charms of one of the most beautiful countries in the world that is New Zealand; and have its beauty take your breath away!