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How To Meet People When Backpacking New Zealand

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New Zealand’s diverse landscape, adventurous activities and unique Kiwi culture have made it one of the best countries in the world for a backpacking holiday.  Since it’s such a popular place for backpacking, it’s not difficult to find other like-minded travelers that you can share experiences with along the way. Traveling solo can seem scary at first so here are 6 different ways you can meet people when backpacking through New Zealand.

How to Meet People When Backpacking New Zealand

1. Stay in a Hostel

Shared accommodation is one of the best ways to make friends during your stay in New Zealand. Hostels are excellent for meeting like-minded backpackers, especially if you’re travelling solo and seek great company and support. When staying in a hostel, you are thrown right into the mix with a diverse group of people, where friendships will naturally begin to form.

Even if you stay in a private hostel room, you are bound to have a very social stay. Hostels have common areas such as games rooms, communal kitchens and dining areas where you can socialize with other backpackers. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger in the kitchen or join a game in the common room – push yourself as far out of your comfort zone as you can. Try asking others at the hostel to join you for a walk or to visit a nearby art gallery or attraction, and you may end up with a new travel buddy.

6 bed dorm at nomads hostel brisbane
6 Bed Shared Dorm at Nomads Hostel Brisbane

2. Participate in Hostel Activities

Most New Zealand hostels have a range of social activities on offer, from outdoor adventures and excursions to relaxing movie nights. To make the most of your experience, participate in as many hostel activities as you can. They’re loads of fun and a guaranteed way to make new friends.

lounge at nomads queenstown hostel
Communal Lounge area – perfect for meeting new friends

Image from Unsplash

3. Enjoy a Shared Dining Experience

Eating with other people is always a great social bonding experience. Hostels provide various opportunities for backpackers to bond over food, whether through cooking in the kitchen or hanging out at the hostel bar. But even if you’re not staying in a hostel, New Zealand still has plenty of opportunities to enjoy a shared dining experience. Consider booking a local foodie event, a wine tasting tour, or even a cooking class. Or visit a restaurant and sit at a communal table – chances are you’ll end up in a conversation with a local or another traveler with unique stories to tell.

kitchen at nomads backpackers queenstown
Communal Kitchen area at Nomads Queenstown

4. Go on a Bus Tour

Bus trips are another sure way to meet other backpackers. When you’re stuck on the bus with a group of people friendships often form naturally. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with the person next to you. Remember, many backpackers on your tour have joined for the same reason you have – to meet new people and make friends. The most popular bus tour options for backpackers in New Zealand are Stray Travel and Kiwi Experience.

backpacker bus
Stray Bus Tour, a really easy way to meet other backpackers

5. Go on a Backpacker Bar Crawl

Backpacker bar crawls are guaranteed fun nights out, practically designed for backpackers to meet other backpackers. New Zealand has a great selection of backpacker bars that serve discounted food and drinks for travelers. Many bars host daily games and events – from pool contests to quiz nights – where you can enjoy friendly competition alongside people you’ve never met.

auckland bars - cheap drinks in Auckland
Bar Crawls are a great way to meet other backpackers

6. Do Volunteer Work

New Zealand is famous for its variety of outdoorsy, active volunteer opportunities for backpackers. These volunteer programs include anything from tree planting to habitat conservation projects. Volunteering for a common cause has a unique way of bringing people together and forming special social bonds. No matter what type of project you get involved with, you’re bound to make friends through the experience.  And you’ll feel good about yourself at the same time too.

Author: Allison Hail is a freelance writer from Wellington, New Zealand. In her time off, she loves to exploring remote destinations – with the ultimate goal of sharing her experiences in her own published book. In the past, Allison has written for travel-related companies such as the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.  Discover more of Allison’s work on Tumblr.

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