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NZ - must one go backpacking to enjoy the outdoors?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific NZ - must one go backpacking to enjoy the outdoors?

1. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

Dezafinado has indicated that this thread is about New Zealand

Hi, I'm an occasional backpacker (Sierra Nevada, California) and was told that one should really go backpacking (in the wilderness) to truly enjoy nature in NZ. The problem is my trip is not for NZ alone. Not only that, NZ is the end of my itinerary. I don't want to be haulin' backpacking gear (tent, mummy bag, sleeping pad, cookware, water filter) for 5 months before I can use it in NZ. Everywhere else I'll be in a hostel or hotel. My sis lives in OZ and said outdoor gear is very expensive there and NZ (now that she's been to the States).

So my question is: will I miss a lot not doing a real backpacking trip? Can one rent gear cheaply for multi-day trips?



2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 613 posts) 9y

Hi Niki,
You can have a fantastic time in NZ without 'proper' backpacking, but as a walker/hiker/tramper myself I was left with that, "I must go back and do that one day" feeling, after my two month visit with my family.
Have you thought about shipping your pack to NZ (by sea for lowest cost) so that it's there when you arrive?
You may be able to rent but it might cost you just as much.

3. Posted by KristenS (Budding Member 56 posts) 9y

I looked online and there are places to rent equipment, tents, stove etc. However when I was in New Zealand, traveling by camper van, I found I was able to explore the south island well by parking and take 2- 3 hour hikes in the national parks and return back to the base. The campgrounds are well equipped with kitchens / bathrooms. One can not help enjoy NZ landscape and wide open areas to explore for it is everywhere on the south island. Do not miss Lake Tekapo and Milford Sound. If you are up for Bungie Jumping or other extreme things Queenstown visitor station will hook up up. For the roughing it experience check out the places with a quick google search.

4. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

KristenS, StevieH -

Looks like it's not too bad without camping gear. What would you recommend for 3 weeks (max 4) in NZ? And is it better to start south and head north or vice versa... or does it matter? I'm about to book a flight from Melbourne to Auckland? And is transportation within NZ expensive?

Thanks for your help?

5. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi Deza,

I would agree with what Kristen said about being able to just park up and hike. And because NZ is such an adventure sports mecca, hiring equipment is not a problem in most places. :)

I did the South Island with my parents in a rental car and still managed to squeeze in lots of outdoor activities.

I wouldnt say it matters which order you do the islands in. Myabe the only thing to consider is the weather and taht depends on what time of year you're going. If it's getting towards autumn/winter maybe do the South first and you can chase the last of the good weather north :)

Just on another note: If you buying a single flight from Melbourne (and not part of a RTW) check out Jetstar flying from Melbourne into Christchurch. They have really good fares usually. ;)

6. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y


The last segment of my RTW ticket leaves Melbourne for Los Angeles with a 4-week stop in New Zealand (Auckland airport). This leg costs $649 (incl tax & fees). I'll check if I could fly into Christchurch and fly out from Auckland. Is it expensive to go from one island to another/

Thanks for your help!

7. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi Deza,

No, not very. As far as I know, you can fly into Christchruch and out of Auckland. A friend of mine recently passed through NZ on a RTW ticket and that's what she did.

You can get around on the buses by getting a Flexipass (where you buy a certain number of miles and you can use these on buses around both islands). Or you could hop on the Kiwi experience.

You have the option of either flying North which is usually not too expensive if you book ahead of time, but I'd say go for the Interislander Ferry and work your way north from Wellington :)

Transport around isn't exactly cheap but it's not exorbitant either and those flexipasses are a good deal.

Hope that helps a bit ;)