New Zealand - The Perfect Place For Solo Travel

By Ziggy Dukes

6 minute read

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When people think about solo travel it can bring a range of emotions from exhilaration to apprehension and everything in between. It can come with a few big decisions, not least of which is choosing the right destination. But for those who have taken the leap to get out and explore the world on their own terms, we're yet to meet anyone with any regrets, with the words liberating, freedom and life-changing usually accompanied by the phrase “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made”. Wherever you go, solo travel is an amazing opportunity to explore, meet people and travel the way you’ve always wanted. Though safety concerns, cultural differences and accessibility can make it difficult in some places, fortunately, there is a place that almost seems custom-made for solo travellers. Where you can explore from towering peaks to golden sand beaches, wander multicultural cities, visit remote villages and head into the wilderness in one of the safest places on the planet. 

And if you’ve found your way to this blog then you're on the right track, because that place is Aotearoa/New Zealand. 

Guests a group of our guests at Key Summit copy4

Explore the best of New Zealand as a solo traveller.

Solo Traveller Friendly 

New Zealand is a country of breathtaking scenery, with all the best parts of nature ranging from active volcanoes to glaciers ending in rainforests somehow all found on a couple of islands in the South Pacific. A couple of hours of driving can transport you from a golden sand beach to an alpine lake with snow-capped peaks towering above, with the road passing through an impossibly green forest en route. But unlike other destinations where reaching these stunning scenes often comes with an element of risk, New Zealand allows visitors to access all of these things in a safe and comfortable way. 

All of the trails and infrastructure around New Zealand are managed by the Department of Conversation, a government department which maintains all of these trails, lookouts and campsites to ensure they are clean and safe at all times. Locally employed rangers each look after their area, not only carrying out maintenance but also being available to answer any questions and offer advice to anyone visiting. New Zealand also has visitor centres in all major towns and national parks which are goldmines of information about the area, including weather updates, best trails and what to pack. It is a country that knows how special its nature is and makes sure everyone who comes to experience it is as safe and as well prepared as possible to enjoy it. We are also extremely lucky to have no deadly animals or insects unlike our neighbours Australia.

14. Guest enjoying Routeburn track 2

Tick off your bucket list destinations on a solo travel adventure.

While it still isn’t recommended to head into the backcountry of New Zealand alone in case of an injury or medical event, guided group tours are a perfect way for like-minded solo travellers to get out and enjoy everything the wilderness has to offer in a safe and social way. 

New Zealand’s towns and cities are also known for being very safe and perfect for solo travellers to explore. New Zealand is safe and filled with friendly people who want nothing more than a conversation with someone from a foreign land, generally to tell you about when they or their friends/family visited. Small towns are even friendlier, with almost every person you pass saying hello and offers of advice, travel trips and evening dinner invitations common within minutes of meeting someone. While it is New Zealand’s scenery which rightly grabs the headlines, our people are what most people rave about after visiting. 

Top Activities for Solo Travellers 

With such a diverse range of landscapes and scenery, New Zealand is full of fun activities for the outdoor adventurer. From world-renowned hiking to cycle trails, kayak tours, scenic heli flights, jetboat rides and wildlife encounters the list of activities and experiences perfect for solo travellers is endless. 

Some of our favourite activities for solo travellers are ones where the sheer beauty and awe of the place almost forces you to turn to the person next to you and remark on what you are seeing. One such experience and place we love to visit on our small group New Zealand adventure tours is Milford Sound and the scenic cruise which is a must-do for anyone who visits. After one of the most spectacular drives in New Zealand if not the world, a final 1200m (¾ mile) tunnel through a shear granite peak reveals the world-famous Milford Sound. The road winds its way down through our version of Jurassic Park before arriving at the ferry terminal, where a boat awaits to carry visitors the 16km (10mile) journey along Milford Sound (actually it’s a glacial fjord but the Welsh Whaler who discovered it didn’t know the difference and the name stuck). The boats have both internal seating as well as an open-topped roof where you can gaze up at the towering peaks which rise over a mile from the water below. Local fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and even the rare Fjordland crested penguins are often found in the fjord. The dolphins frequently provide an escort for the boat, surfing the wake as they guide us on our journey. It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic locations and it’s easy to see why. Nothing brings fellow travellers together like sharing in the moment of nature’s perfection and forming memories you know will last a lifetime.

Enjoy a Milford Sound cruise3

Explore the beauty of Fiordland National Park and cruise Milford Sound.

With so many incredible experiences to choose from here in New Zealand, it’s almost impossible to pick favourites but another top contender we love to share with our guests is surely exploring Siberia Valley. A remote glacial valley located in Mt Aspiring National Park, Siberia Valley is inaccessible by car and remains one of the best examples of New Zealand’s pristine wilderness anywhere in the country. Jump aboard a bush plane to soar over the peaks of the Southern Alps before touching down on the grass airstrip in Siberia Valley. From there you can explore on foot, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the surrounding snow-capped peaks as you make your way along the valley. Top it off by catching a ride on a jetboat back down the river and it’s a day you’re sure to remember for years to come. 

PS Jan Siberia Valley5

Explore remote valleys in our most beautiful National Parks.

Travelling Solo around New Zealand

When it comes to transport, New Zealand’s geography and sparse population (only 1 million people in the South Island which is larger than England which has 50 million) make options for getting around quite limited. While an intercity bus network does operate, a maximum of one bus per day and limited capacity means most people exploring on their own end up renting a car or campervan to get around. While this can seem like a great way to explore on your own terms and speed, New Zealand's roads can be windy and with countless mountains, lakes and beaches to distract you, let alone the fact we drive on the left here, joining a small group tour is an ideal way to be able to sit back and soak in the vistas while still getting to explore the places away from the main tourist trails and towns.

Travelling with a small group of like-minded travellers comes with many benefits, not least of which is the fact that the details and logistics are all taken care of for you. With the right tour group, it also means gaining local insight and knowledge from expert guides and enjoying access to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular locations. 

Solo Travel with New Zealand Trails 

Here at New Zealand Trails, our small group tours are made to suit the independent traveller, designed to bring like-minded individuals with a shared passion for nature and hiking together. Groups of no more than 14 guests with 2 experienced local guides mean our trips are flexible, fun and safe and allow you time and space to get to know each member of your group and build real relationships with your guides. You can visit all your bucket list destinations at a pace that’s right for you while gaining some lifelong friends in the process.

Fiordland World Heritage

Immerse yourself in New Zealand's untouched natural beauty.

Small group travel is a great way to see New Zealand as a solo traveller and takes the stress out of all the planning and logistical preparation. You can meet new and interesting people, some of whom might become friends for life and enjoy the camaraderie built by sharing new experiences with others. Groups that have met on New Zealand Trails trips often end up planning and going on more adventures together around the world, and there is nothing we love more than getting emails and photos from past guests who are now lifelong friends. The beauty of our all-inclusive tours is you can spend as much or as little time with the rest of the group as you like, with daily hikes a perfect chance to spend some alone time in nature or to have a chat with a new friend. The best part is it is completely up to you. 

So if you are a solo traveller who wants to see New Zealand or someone who has never tried solo travel and would love to know more, then we'd love to help you plan your perfect New Zealand adventure. Speak to our expert local team today or request a brochure. We'd love to share our favourite parts of New Zealand with you. 


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