Visitors flock to New Zealand for its natural beauty, but it’s especially attractive to solo travellers because they know it’s a relatively safe place to come. Exploring this Pacific country is simple – provided you know where to go. To help you plan your itinerary, here’s a guide to some of the best attractions.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
If you’re hiring a car, it helps to study up on New Zealand’s terrain and estimated travel times, as well as the essential road rules. If you’re not used to driving on the left, take extra care on the highways. This may sound like common sense advice but, unfortunately, tourist casualties are not uncommon.
A quick note about solo hiking
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trekker, exploring New Zealand’s walking trails calls for careful planning. It’s good to keep in mind that the country’s best hiking destinations often have quite volatile weather conditions – you’ll likely be exposed to all four seasons in a single day. Pack accordingly, and don’t brave those trails alone unless you feel truly confident in doing so.
Exploring the North Island
New Zealand’s largest city has it all: wineries, walking tracks, beaches, hiking trails and volcanoes are some of the memorable sights you’ll experience. Art galleries and a diverse restaurant and cafe scene are other strong assets of this dynamic city. Auckland is also a great departure point for various day trip destinations, from local islands to nearby tourist gems.
The beautiful Coromandel peninsula is popular among local and international visitors. Cathedral Cove is among the breathtaking sights that impress the region’s visitors – it’s great for walking, kayaking, or scenic cruises. The nearby Hot Water Beach, with its bubbling springs and golden sands, is another must-see Coromandel destination.
Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal springs, heritage landmarks and all-round beautiful landscapes. There are regular cruises running along the glistening Lake Rotorua, and you can go kayaking and paddleboarding at the nearby Lake Rotoiti. Adrenalin-inducing activities are ample, and include the iconic Zorb adventures and white-water rafting.
Home to New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupo is a popular spot for bungee jumping, mountaineering, white-water rafting and sightseeing. Ski bunnies visiting in winter can reach the snowy Mount Ruapehu from the main township. The wonderful Huka Falls are also worth the visit – you’ll be engulfed in a dramatic, foamy waterfall that ends in a gorgeous blue-green pool.
Budget-conscious and high-end travellers alike are bound to relish the Wellington experience. Not only is the Kiwi capital renowned for its cultural, gastronomical, and panoramic wonders, it is also the gateway for visitors heading south. If you want to spend a day exploring the upper South Island, the Interisland Ferry makes regular journeys from Wellington to Picton.
Venturing into the South Island
Popular with self-guided trekkers and curious tourist groups, the Milford Sound is among the ultimate South Island must-sees. It is located right at the heart of Fiordland National Park, where visitors can pass through the Milford Track, and the mighty Mitre Peak. A mixture of cliffs and dense forested areas make this destination a remarkable spot for nature lovers.
Not too far away from Milford Sound is the lovely city of Nelson. This artsy stopover gained international acclaim for its cameo in The Hobbit films, though it’s also renowned for its eclectic food culture. Like many places you’ll pass through, Nelson is beautifully adorned with stunning natural attractions – including the Abel Tasman National Park, the Farewell Spit, and the Grove Scenic Reserve.
Queenstown is the most popular tourist spot in the entire country, and for good reason. Snowy mountains, majestic vistas and crystal lakes are some of the gorgeous sights that await. Adventurous travellers are well placed to get involved in some extreme sporting activities, and the city is also a gateway to some of the South Island’s best vineyards.
Franz Josef glacier
If you have the chance to see the Franz Josef glacier from up close, you’ll be welcomed by more than just an icy paradise. Solo travellers can opt for a guided tour of the glacier, which usually takes 2-3 hours to complete. Once you’ve finished admiring the ice floes, you can always cosy up to the hot pools at the nearby township.
The Catlins is located on the lower southeast coast of the island, between the towns of Balclutha and Invercargill. Coastal cliffs, remarkable wildlife, long, sweeping coastlines and rugged forested plains surround it. True to off-grid conventions, the nearest town from the Catlins, Owaka, has a population of approximately 400 people. While this destination is best suited for self-driving, there are some tour operators that will take you to it.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.