The Definitive Backpack Experience?
New Zealand provides a unique travelling experience for the thousands of backpackers who visit New Zealand every year from all parts of the world. We have specialist backpacker facilities throughout the country, unlike other regions in which backpackers travel. We have a spectacular, varied, and accessible natural environment that invites active participation. We have an excellent array of activities, facilities and transport to accommodate this exploration.
Why New Zealand?
Backpackers are overwhelmingly positive about their time in New Zealand. New Zealand is a seen as a pristine, beautiful natural world to discover, and one that is especially easy to navigate and explore. Backpackers speak about New Zealanders as very friendly people, far beyond their original expectations welcoming and genuinely interested in travellers.
Backpackers from the Northern Hemisphere tend to split their travel time between Australia and New Zealand in a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio based on the countries relative size. The perception is that Australia is larger and therefore will offer more activities to do and places to see. However, in hindsight some backpackers regret this decision. Although New Zealand is geographically smaller than Australia, its compact size means it can offer backpackers more to do and see within a small area.
“I went on Oz Experience, then Kiwi, sometimes Oz it was just hours and hours on the bus, not the best country to travel by land. New Zealand, everything is within an hour or two.”
Backpacking is an inexpensive and adventurous way to travel independently for a long time. It offers opportunities to meet new people while learning about other cultures. It lends itself to the outdoors and outdoor activities. It provides a sense of freedom and independence that other forms of travel don’t offer. It allows greater flexibility and choice in travel. Changing plans is as simple as putting on a pack and heading in another direction. There are no bookings to change, no places they need to be.
“When you backpack you are totally self reliant, can stay anywhere, in a hostel or camp ground, you can bush walk or take a bus when you feel like it, you’ve always got a tent for back-up.”
Beautiful, Unspoilt, Uncrowded!
Australians see New Zealand as a less exotic location, low cost and relatively accessible. Some travel to New Zealand specifically to experience landscapes that Australia does not have eg, high mountains, ice climbing, glaciers. Canadians see New Zealand as pleasantly similar to their homeland, but with much more to see and do within a relatively small area. They see New Zealand as having a warmer climate with a more varied and dramatic landscape. New Zealandï¿½s distance from Canada gives travel an adventurous feel. North Americans and Europeans tend to see New Zealand as especially unspoilt and uncrowded, offering a strong contrast to their homelands as well as having the appeal of a remote and far away land.
“It’s very far and not cheap, I don’t mind this now but I had to think about it before I came”.
Who are backpackers?
Many are first-timers, young travellers away from home in a break in study between secondary and tertiary education. Older backpackers (aged 25 to 35) are usually single and tertiary educated with no dependants. They have worked for two to three years and have chosen backpacking as an extended break from working life before settling down. Backpackers perceptions of New Zealand as a backpacking destination vary. For first-timers from the Northern Hemisphere, backpacking in New Zealand seems exotic while still Western in culture and a relatively safe place to travel for their first trip away. Older backpackers see New Zealand as a less challenging backpacker destination, where they can relax and enjoy nature without having to struggle with extreme cultural differences.
“I thought it was a beautiful place but didn’t know that there was so much to do here”.
The core drive for independence means that backpackers have more similarities than differences. They generally prefer travel that meets their needs to physically interact with the environment, meet new people, seek renewal and restoration, be exposed to different cultures. Backpackers seek a destination that offers physical activities that provide them with a challenge and/or a feeling of excitement, such as bungy jumping or sky diving. They may also seek more traditional but challenging activities such as mountain climbing, tramping or diving.
“I get up in the morning and know that I am going to do something new, bungy or skydiving, perfect day, once in a lifetime, I just cant wait, feel more alive.”
Backpackers also look for social activities that allow them to feel a general sense of togetherness and sociability, such as a shared bus trip or the opportunity to join the party and bar scene. Older travellers tend to prefer a small group while younger travellers in general prefer larger groups.
“We rented a car with others, really fun, just laid back, we got along so well, the perfect group.”
For relaxation backpackers need seek out experiences that allow them to feel relaxed, restored and reflective, such as cycling through the scenic South Island, bushwalking, and kayaking through the Milford Sounds. The ideal backpacking experience embodies an introspective and calm experience in a beautiful natural environment.
“We just went all silent, lost in our own thoughts for hours in our kayaks, thought about my life and everything.”
Backpackers enjoy learning about other cultures, such as staying at home-stays, being invited into the home of a New Zealander, undertaking a working holiday and hitchhiking around the country.
“New Zealand is easy to get around, is backpacker friendly, has lots of places to stay, has friendly down-to-earth people who welcome travellers, is English speaking, familiar, and safe with a Western culture.”
New Zealands Geographical Isolation!
New Zealands isolation from the rest of the world is a real benefit to backpackers who seek a sense of independence, adventure and escape from home life. Perceptions of the country’s geographical location relative to Australia vary considerably, from less than an hour to several hours. However the two countries general proximity is well known and adds further travel options. It means they can travel to more than just one country, an important part of making the most of being in the South Pacific.
Overall, backpackers describe the New Zealand landscape as far surpassing their expectations, especially in the landscape diversity and proximity of places and activities. The landscape is described as extraordinarily varied and remarkably accessible, and exceptionally beautiful.
“Always something new to see around the corner. Alps and then beautiful beaches, incredible.” “Everything you want to do is in a small space, climbing and diving, not far away.”
Backpack hostels in New Zealand are unlike European or North American hostels that have a 10pm door close, and in some instances no kitchen facilities. New Zealand accommodation offers a wide range of facilities for travellers, such as kitchens, bars, lounges, televisions and laundries. Some offers extra facilities such as spa pools and cottages. Generally, New Zealand hostels cater specifically for backpackers, unlike hostels overseas which may also host school groups and families. Camping facilities, also common in New Zealand, are avaiable to backpackers who want to keep costs down.
“There is so much too do, everywhere you go, something to see, dolphins, seals, bungy jumping sky diving. I just thought there would be bungy and walks.”