Last updated on 08-mar-2024

CONTENT– Formalities/ Travel Itineraries / Places To See / Trekking Options / Basics / Accommodation / Getting Around / Food / Cultural Sense & Safety / Shopping / Budget

New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the most scenic countries I have visited. Not only are the views spectacular wherever you go, but the country in itself is extremely traveller friendly. With backpacker buses, popular trekking trails, comfortable hostels and information centres in every nook and corner of the country, New Zealand is a delight to travel in. Backpacking can never be an easier and pleasurable experience than it is here. So, if you are planning on going to New Zealand soon, follow me along to know more about what the country has to offer to you. 


Few countries do not need a visa to visit New Zealand. Check the list if your country falls in that category. For Indians, we do need a Visa. But getting a tourist visa or a backpacker visa cannot be easier than this. New Zealand is the most tourist/backpacker friendly country I have visited. The country is developing itself around this major source of income. So, let me keep it simple and list down the steps to follow to get your Travel visa to this incredible island country. 

First, visit the immigration website to begin the process. Begin filling your online application. You will need following documents to be uploaded at the time of applying – 

1) A Copy of your passport

2) flight ticket 

3) A covering letter mentioning a rough plan

4) Passport size pictures (NZ visa)

5) To ensure that you are not permanently migrating, you will need to show some documents of family ties. (Marriage certificate, employment details, land etc)

6) Bank statements of past six months. 

Once you are done filling the form and uploading the necessary documents, submit the form and pay the processing fee. Take a print of the receipt. 

In India, the visa processing for NZ happens through TT services. Walk into the nearest TT services office along with a print of the confirmation page, your passport and a DD of the amount mentioned in their website as a processing fee. You will have to submit these documents at TT services and mention the address at which you wish to receive it back. 

The passport will be sent to the Mumbai or Delhi office for approval, depending on where you are located. If all the documents are in place, you will receive the passport with a visa stamp within 2 weeks, if not earlier.  

Travel Itineraries 

The best time to visit NZ is in summer. Being in the southern hemisphere, their summer  months are November to January. Most trekking trails are open during this season. Visiting NZ during fall (April-May) is also a good idea to see the wonderful fall colours. 

Most people travel to NZ for 6 months or more. They prefer working at the local farms sometime and travel along. The local farms are always looking for help and it would be a great experience if you have a lot of time. For those who do not wish to work and only travel in the country, I would recommend at least 3 weeks, if not 4. Here is my plan for 2, 3 and 4 weeks of stay in New Zealand. 

2 Weeks (Rapid) – Aukland, Waitoma Caves, Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook, Queenstown.

3 Weeks (Moderate) - Christchurch-> Lake Tekapo-> Mount Cook Village -> Queenstown-> Routeburn Track-> Wanaka -> Milford Sound -> Stewart Island-> Picton -> Wellington -> Taupo -> Tongariro Alpine Crossing -> Rotorua -> Waitomo Caves -> Auckland -> Bay Of Island.

4 Weeks (Relaxed) – You can add few more destinations such as Gisborne, Dunedin, Punakaiki,  Franz Josef Glaciers, Abel Tasman. 


Places to see and things to do

Here are the details on the places to visit and things to see. I have provided a link to my personal blog that illustrates the things to do in the respective location. It would a laborious task to copy them all here and brevity would be futile.  

North Island


Bay of Islands

Waitomo Caves


Tongariro Alpine Crossing




South Island


Lake Tekapo

Mount Cook Village


Routeburn Track


Milford Sound



Stewart Island - Follow the post to know more about the things you can do at Stewart island. 

Tramping In NZ

New Zealand is a paradise for hikers. There are several great walks in both islands. Almost all trails are neatly marked and has huts along the way with wardens taking care of the huts during summer. You will have to book the huts or campsites beforehand. The huts can be booked at the DOC (Department of conservation) website. There are many offices in all major towns, so you can also walk up to any and make your reservations. Most treks get filled up quickly during summer, so I would advise you to book early, especially during summer months. 

Once you have booked your huts, you will need a transport to the trail beginning and pick-up at trail endpoint. There are several transport agencies in the main town that will arrange transport to and from the train ends. Most of them also allow baggage deposit so that you can leave your remaining luggage at the facility for a nominal fee. 

The huts will have a kitchen and therefore, you can carry utensils and grocery to cook in them. You will need to carry a sleeping bag as the huts will only have wooden cots. Huts are great place to meet other trekkers from across the globe. 

Here are some must-do treks in NZ – 

The Basics

Two main things to arrange while traveling are – Money and SIM card. As for as money goes, most places in NZ accept credit card. However, there are remote places and villages were cash is preferred. You can find ATM’s in airport or in most towns. It would be also good to carry some US dollars and exchange them at the airport. 

At the airport, you will see many booths offering SIM cards. They have various packages for tourists. My advice is the get a SIM card that gives you more data. As calls can be made through whatsapp or other apps. Therefore, the data limit becomes crucial on your SIM. Spark NZ was what I used. You can choose a plan that suits your stay.  However, all hostels have free wifi and therefore, the data you need is mostly used while on road. Sometimes, even the buses have free wifi facility. So in NZ, you will not require to buy Data often. 

Isite – Isites are NZ’s official visitor information centres. They have small offices in all parts of the country. You can go there are make all kinds of reservations for free. This is the first place you must visit if you are in doubt while traveling, They will help you out with all kinds of information required. Almost all towns I have been to have at least one (If not more) i-site offices. 


NZ is filled with hostels and they are the best options for backpackers and travellers. They do have dormitories and private rooms. A full-fledged kitchen with utensils are available almost everywhere. You can carry your grocery and cook, which is what most people do. Details of cost provided below. During peak seasons (Summer) it is advisable to book the hostels slightly in advance. Some hostels have an agreement with the backpacker buses and they reserve the beds for them. It is particularly important to book your accommodation at Mt.Cook village and Stewart island in advance. You can use apps like “Hostelworld”, “” “Agoda” etc. 

Youth hostels are popular and almost every town has a youth hostel. I would highly recommend them. 

The reception at hostels are not always open 24 hours. So, if you happen to check-in late, make sure to call them and discuss the options as otherwise, you will be locked out. 

Apart from hostels, you can also choose the motels if you want some privacy and want to be away from backpacker crowd. Most people enjoy driving around the country in their camper vans. In such cases, there are plenty of designated campsites  which are either free or charge a nominal fee. Many hotels also rent out their parking lot for camper vans. 

Getting Around

There is no other country that I have been to, that is so traveller friendly. Traveling across New Zealand is very easy. They have something called backpacker buses. Companies like Stray, Kiwi Experience, Intercity and Naked bus provide various deals. You can buy a pass and hop onn and off at any point on any day. The buses keep traveling around the country and you can pre-book a ride with your pass at any given time. If you do not wish to buy a pass, you can simply book a single ride on their website. You can also approach the nearest i-site offices that can help you book accommodation, transport and any other requirement for free. But remember that if you buy a full package then you are stuck with the transport for the entire trip. So, I would recommend booking small loops with various transport based on their offers and prices. For example, I booked a 3-day Stewart island trip with Stray. They take care of the transport and hostel reservation is guaranteed. Apart from that most of my journey was a single booking from one location to another on intercity bus. 

You can obviously rent a ar or a camper van and travel across the country. There are a lot of designated campsites across the country. You will want to find a cheaper parking option in big cities. You can read more about choosing the right bus for you based on my article posted in my personal blog. 

To cross the North island and get to south or vice versa, you will have to book a ferry or fly.  These bookings can also be made at an i-site offices in Wellington, Picton or Bluff (To reach Stewart island). To save time, you can fly from north to south island.

Though hitch-hiking is said to be common in New Zealand, I have not tried the same or have met anyone who tried it. Since there are enough public transports catering to the travellers, I hardly felt a need for it. 


Most towns in New Zealand have restaurants of all world cuisines. You can find a good café that sells burgers, pastas, pizzas. Most towns also have Indian, Chinese and Mexican restaurants. 

Relish Café is Wanaka is popular for their breakfast. Try their  courgette and Whitestone haloumi fritters , poached egg and confit tomato and Mascapone and goat’s cheese mousse, lemon and lavender curd, green apple granita, almond crunch for dessert.

Bella Cucina, a restaurant in Queenstown is a perfect place to taste some Italian cuisine. Fergburger, the most famous burger joint in Queenstown is a must-go. If it is very crowded, then try Devil’s Burger around the corner. Tipping is not common in New Zealand but you can if you like the service.

Look out for week-end markets in Wellington and Auckland. From Paella from Spain to Masala dosa from India, you will find all kids of food here. 

But for a backpacker who is on budget, nothing is more suitable than carrying your grocery with you. Shop at Four square or any other grocery stores that are open 24/7 and carry your ingredients to be cooked at the hostel kitchen. At around 7PM, everyone at the hotel come down to cook their dinner. You can also find ready-to-eat and quick cooking packages in the grocery store. Some basic ingredients like salt, sugar and sometimes tea or coffee are available at the hostels. 

Cultural Sense And Safety 

As such, I do not see a distinct culture in New Zealand that is different from western Countries. However, you may want to be respectful towards the indigenous Maori culture and history. Most locals you will interact with are people in the tourism industry and they are very friendly and outgoing.  

New Zealand is one of the most safest places to travel. There were plenty of solo travellers and many women solo travellers as well. As I have said before, the country heavily depends on tourism and therefore you will feel welcomed here. 

What to buy and where?

Every country has something unique to offer. So does NZ. I would highly recommend bringing back some Kiwi fruits; specially the gold variety which are rarely available in the other parts of the world. You will find these any local markets. 

Lot of towns setup local markets on weekends. Many local artists set up their stalls to sell their artifacts. Make sure to buy some custom made products as souvenir rather than somethings that are mass produced in a factory. 

If you are planning to buy some jewellery, then you must go for some made of mountain jade. There are several jewellery shops selling mountain jade jewellery in the South Island. You may not find as many shops in the North island. 

Budget and Travel Tips

A crude estimate of expenses is below. Check for latest prices as per your requirements. 

*Accommodation is Single dorm bed for Backpacker and private room for two in case of mid-range and luxury.
*Transport and entertainment cost is an average per day cost of bus rides and entry fees across the country. 

Overall, the rates in NZ are pretty standard but here are few tips that you can follow to save some bucks. 

Book hostels at location – Sometimes it is cheaper to reach a location and look for available dorms. They are cheaper than booking them through online apps who charge convenience fee. Having said that, make sure to check availability online before reaching the location. Weekends can be extremely crowded in some locations and will need prior booking. 

Carry your grocery and cook – The cheapest way to travel in NZ is to carry your grocery with you and cook at least one meal a day at the hostel. There are supermarkets almost everywhere around the country. There are refrigerators in every hostel where you can label and store your food during your stay. The kitchen has utensils and some basic spices for you to use. Almost everyone at hostel cook so, you will not be feeling alone here. 

Buy Bus passes/packages from Intercity – If you plan to travel around the city or go on a day trip from some major city, then I would recommend the packages offered by Intercity. They would work out cheaper hand you doing it on your own. For example, I took a day trip to Bay of islands and another to Waitoma caves. The package was well arranged 

i-site office Wi-Fi – All hostels and some buses have Wi-Fi. However, if you run out of data, then walk to a nearest i-site office to avail free Wi-Fi.