Common mistakes made by backers in New Zealand
New Zealand is tailor-made for backpacking holidays.
Accommodation is generally clean and good, food can be bought cheaply and backpacker visitor information is freely available in all towns.
However even with such great facilities many backpackers still make simple mistakes which complicate holidays.
Here are some of the most common mistakes made by backpackers and how to avoid them.
Underestimating the size of the country
Although it is a small nation of only 4m people the land area of New Zealand is larger than most people imagine. The North and South Islands together are bigger then the UK and the same size as Colorado in the USA. No surprise therefore that many people arrive in New Zealand and quickly realise that their holiday plans have to be trimmed back once they realise the distances and travelling times involved.
The South Island in particular has lots of windy roads which may not look much on a map but which mean driving times are long. So, when planning your holiday in New Zealand be sure to check out driving times and allow for them in your itinerary. Ultimately if time is short then consider only visiting one of the islands. That leaves you with a great reason to return one day and see the other!
Don't miss out on Adventure Activities
New Zealand rightly lays claim to be the adventure sports capital of the world and no holiday is complete without experiencing some of the adrenalin-pumping activities on offer. But they don't come cheap so the advice is to do some budget research beforehand and arrive with sufficient money. Experienced backpackers live cheaply and save their hard-earned cash for those awesome adventure sports and activities.
The vast majority of New Zealand is rural and there is no extensive public transport network. Travel by road is by far and away the most common form of transport. If your budget does not stretch to hiring a car then getting around, especially on the South Island can be a slow and difficult process. But it is not all bad news as many private operators run buses either specially for backpackers or if not then many of the more popular services are relatively cheap and multi-journey tickets can be purchased.
Don't ignore the locals
New Zealanders are among the most welcoming and hospitable people on the planet and to not stop and chat to them is to miss out on one of the best features of the country. You will be surprised at how easy it is to strike up a conversation with a Kiwi and don't be surprised if you are invited to share some of their legendary hospitality. It's also a great way to find out the best things to do locally as much of what New Zealand has to offer is not to be found in the guide books.
Camping as an alternative to hostels
New Zealand has a network of great hostels but if money is tight or hostels are full then why not consider camping. The country has a large network of campsites run by the Department of Conservation, many of which are in the most amazing locations. Most are either free or just charge a nominal amount for a night's stay. Facilities are limited to basic toilet and washrooms but it's a great way to see the country on a budget.
Looking for work
Many backpackers on long trips look for casual jobs in bars and restaurants to supplement their travel budgets. As a result competition for vacancies can be high, especially in summer months. As an alternative why not consider working on a farm or in a fruit orchard. Many farms offer free food and a bed for the night in return for a day's work. And you won't be alone as working on farms and in orchards is becoming increasingly popular because it is a great way to experience authentic rural Kiwi life. Farms tend to offer work all year round whilst fruit orchards are seasonal.