If you are a first time solo traveller, New Zealand would be perfect for you to try out all the tricks and tips available on solo travel. This is because there are so many other travellers on their own on a work holiday visa that you just need the right opportunity to make friends or have company for those tours that you would like to take.
So the first important tip to know would be to start from your hostel. Hostels sometimes organise events or free tours for their guests. Just sign up for any of these and make sure to be a bit more friendly with everyone. They are all there to make friends so they will definitely not mind if you awkwardly try to start any conversations. Like-minded people wouldn’t mind, of course.
The people in New Zealand are very friendly and used to solo travellers as some of the wait staff could be holding on to a work holiday visa. They are very easy to make conversations with. Don’t be shy, just head in for food alone if you would like or someone may end up offering to share a table with you. This did happen to me once and the couple was lovely enough to pay for my food after sharing a lovely conversation over dinner! Total strangers uniting over dinner – there you go. 🙂
I did a mix of tours and drives by myself in New Zealand. If you are concerned about being alone on tour, check with the operator if there are any other solo travellers on the bus or if lunch is provided. I find that easier to gauge whether I will be alone or able to have some company on the tour, especially if there is lunch provided. I have ended up taking lunch by myself once or twice on tours.
Be open to people, especially those in your dorm rooms. I find that there are often a mix of people that I would meet in New Zealand. Those who are there to party, those who are there to make friends, those who are there to practise their English. Even if you don’t match with any of them, don’t shut them out and join in with them if they invite you to. Those who are there to practise English were especially open to talking to me since they tend to speak their own language with their travel mates.
I’ve got to admit that I haven’t gotten to hike alone though. I have done short hikes alone or one day hikes but I was not able to do multiple day hikes so I would love to do this option next time. Of course, hiking alone has its own danger but it is still doable (I’ve heard stories from other travellers in New Zealand on their own experience). Keep in mind the precautions and be responsible if hiking alone to keep someone informed of your intentions. Remember – safety comes first!
On that note, safety is always important when travelling alone. Be aware of your surroundings especially when travelling at night alone. I tend not to stay out too late alone. Most shops in New Zealand usually tend to close early anyway so there is not much reason for me to stay out too late either. If I do stay out, I prefer to travel around with at least one or two others as company. If you choose to hitchhike alone, try to avoid doing it at night as well. While New Zealand are relatively safe, I have heard of gang fights happening before so just be careful and listen to your intuition!
It’s also good to register yourself with your foreign ministry in the event of any emergencies. New Zealand is quite prone to earthquakes as both island is teeming with seismic activities. You may never know when one will occur so you wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared for it like I was here.
That being said, New Zealand is perfect for first time solo travellers. I found it very easy to make friends on tours and in hostels, depending on the situation of course. There are a usually a lot of other solo travellers, especially those on work holiday visas. It was quite easy not to feel left out sometimes when I was there. Although I don’t always make friends easily all the time, it never hurts to still try. 🙂
Do give these tips a try if you do head to New Zealand on your own. 🙂