Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel!

New Zealand is an epic country, filled with absolutely legendary landscapes.  When most people think of New Zealand, they think of “Lord of the Rings,” with its sweeping vistas, quaint “Hobbit” towns, & stark landscapes.  It’s a country so filled with natural wonders ~ trust me when I say this guide only begins to cover them!  Not to mention, New Zealand is an excellent choice for female travel…& I’ll explain why below, including ten of my absolute favorite New Zealand adventures!  Let’s get right to your “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel!”

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Join me & Nina on an epic girl’s trip up & down the islands of New Zealand!

Is New Zealand Safe for Female Travel?

In terms of pure statistical safety, there is literally NOWHERE in the world safer for female travel than New Zealand ~ with the exception of Iceland!  The Global Peace Index for 2017, which can be found here, lists New Zealand as the #2 safest country in the world, based on 23 different measures.  So if your family is worried about your New Zealand travels, show them that study! 

From a more personal standpoint, when Nina & I spent over two weeks in New Zealand, we literally ran into more sheep than people!  (Sheep are everywhere in New Zealand.)  This lent to a very relaxed, tranquil, & very rural vibe.  At no point during our trip did I feel remotely unsafe.  The New Zealand people are well-mannered & helpful, & more soft-spoken than their outgoing Aussie neighbors. 

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New Zealand is ranked as the #2 safest country in the world, which makes it an ideal place for female travel. Nina, photographed on Matapouri Bay.

Similar to Iceland, your biggest issue as a solo traveler or female traveler in New Zealand will be COST.  It is an extremely expensive country, especially for food & drink.  To save money in New Zealand, opt for hostels or Airbnb’s, & eat out as little as possible!  Nina & I basically stopped drinking, because it was ridiculously expensive.  Until we got to Queenstown, that is… 

Another thing to consider in New Zealand, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of driving, is that solo travel here could get quite lonely.  There are long stretches of highway where you won’t see much of anything, or anyone, for hours.  I think a New Zealand road trip is better spent with friends ~ but that’s just my personal opinion.  On the other hand, if solitude & quiet are what you’re looking for…you’ll most definitely find it in New Zealand!

Map of New Zealand Highlights

Milford Sound

Waitamo Caves

Queenstown

Mermaid Pools

Marlborough Sounds

Blenheim Wine Tasting

Cathedral Cove

Waiheke Island

New Zealand Travel Quick Facts!

  • New Zealand in Four Words = “Lord of the Rings.”
  • New Zealand in One More Word = Sheep. 
  • Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi is readily available in major cities like Auckland & Queenstown, & even in smaller towns ~ but even with an international plan, you may have spotty reception in much of the rural parts of the country. 
  • Global Peace Ranking in 2017 = #2 out of 163 countries (U.S. is #114).  Statistically speaking, New Zealand is one of the SAFEST places to travel ~ the only country safer is Iceland.
  • Hotels & Food = Hotel prices are roughly comparable to the U.S.  During our fall trip, we averaged a nightly rate of approx. $100 US/night.  Food & alcohol is extremely expensive ~ our first breakfast, where we split a meal, was $90 US!!  French-press coffees cost us $14 each.  INSANE!!
  • Musts = Go to an All Blacks game in Auckland.  Visit the world-famous shires of Hobbiton.  Head underground for a spooky tour of the glow-worm caves in Waitamo.  Go bar-hopping & have a million adventures in beautiful Queenstown.  Visit the legendary Milford Sound on a clear day.
  • Is New Zealand Good for Solo Travelers? = In terms of safety, yes.  The only problem for solo travel in New Zealand is that it’s an expensive country (like Iceland), which can make traveling alone a bit cost-prohibitive & a little lonely, especially if driving long distances. 
  • What to Expect as a Female Traveler = Overall, we found people in New Zealand very respectful, & we didn’t encounter any problems as female travelers.  Compared to neighboring Aussies, New Zealand men are much more reserved, which makes for a peaceful experience traveling as a woman.    
  • Would I Go Back to New Zealand? = Maybe someday, when I’m older.  I enjoyed it, but didn’t fall in love with it like I have many other countries.

Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel!

In this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel,” we’ll take you all the way from the top of New Zealand’s northern island to the very bottom of its southern island ~ & show you 10 of the best adventures you can have along the way!  If you’re curious where any of these places are located, just check out the map above! 

Mermaid Pools of Matapouri

Matapouri is a tiny little town in northern New Zealand, located just south of the incredibly scenic Bay of Islands.  It’s set on a crescent-shaped beach, along Matapouri Bay.  And if you do a short hike along the left side of the bay ~ you’ll come to the Mermaid Pools…but ONLY at LOW TIDE!!! If you go at high tide, the pools will be filled with ocean water, & getting to them could be dangerous.  

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The Mermaid Pools of Matapouri. Visit only at low-tide!

Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel

The peninsula to the east of Auckland is known as the Coromandel, & you’ll find the highly dramatic Cathedral Cove nestled in Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve on the eastern side of the peninsula.  Visit at sunset for the best pictures!

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The iconic Cathedral Cove, located in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve.

Rent a Bike on Waiheke Island!

Waiheke Island is just 21 kilometers off the shores of Auckland, & easily accessible by ferry.  We rented bikes right in the parking lot next to Waiheke’s harbor, & set off on a wine-tasting Waiheke adventure!  Nina’s bike only had one gear, unfortunately, & we got caught in an afternoon thunderstorm…but it was hilarious & sooo worth it! 

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Rent a bike & go wine-tasting on Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride from Auckland!

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Vineyards that lead down to the sea epitomize Waiheke Island..

Go to an All Blacks Game 

The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby team ~ & they’re one of the best in the world.  Check their schedule before your trip to see if they’re playing in Auckland, & make new friends while watching New Zealand’s favorite sport!  This (blurry) photo was taken on the last night of our trip, when we stayed up all night rather than getting a hotel room.  Worth it!

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Make new friends at an All Blacks game in Auckland!

Have a Traditional Maori Dinner..

Venturing south of Auckland, if you visit the famous Waitamo Caves, you’ll want to make a pit stop in Rotorua.  The town is known for its spas & hot springs, & smells overwhelmingly like sulfur!  But don’t let that stop you from enjoying a traditional Maori dinner, including a rousing show ~ Haka included : )

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Stop in Rotorua for a traditional Maori dinner & show.

See Glow Worms in the Waitamo Caves

This was one of the coolest, scariest things we did all trip!  After donning full wet suits, we rappelled hundreds of feet down into a dark hole ~ then zip-lined in absolute, pitch-dark (terrifying!!), & finally hopped in inner tubes, traveling through caves lit by glow worms!  Oh ~ & we climbed straight up rushing waterfalls…which is not easy!  By the end of our day at Waitamo Caves, I was absolutely exhausted, & soooo wet.  But it’s an other-worldly, completely unique experience!  If you’re not super adventurous, though ~ skip this $200+ adventure & head for mellower territory.

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For all adventure-lovers, a stop at the Waitamo Caves is a must!

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Getting goofy at the Waitamo Caves.

Hike in the Marlborough Sounds..

After dropping off our rental car in Wellington & taking a three-hour ferry ride to the southern island of New Zealand, we landed in Nelson & the famous Marlborough Sounds.  If you look at a map, you’ll see that they’re a collection of islands set along the northern coast of the south island ~ & are absolutely filled with outdoor adventures!  We did lots of hiking around Nelson, but you can also bike, kayak, & boat through the Sounds.

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Hiking in Nelson, on the Marlborough Sounds.

Go Wine Tasting in Blenheim!

If you travel east of the Marlborough Sounds, you’ll eventually hit New Zealand’s prime wine country ~ which centers around the city of Blenheim.  New Zealand is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, & you’ll be able to taste plenty of them here.

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Nina sitting pretty at a winery near Blenheim, New Zealand.

Bar Hop in Lively Queenstown!

No “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel” would be complete without Queenstown!  In the southern part of the South Island, Queenstown was by FAR our favorite city in New Zealand.  After miles of open space & sheep, it was a huge relief to stumble into a lively city in such a beautiful setting, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu.  It is GORGEOUS.  And Queenstown still manages to feel quaint & small, yet is filled with great restaurants & bars ~ which we tried 99% of!  This is a great place to start or end your trip, & I’d highly recommend spending at least 3-4 days here….there’s a TON to do, all around the area!

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Grab a chilly drink at the Ice Bar in Queenstown..

Soak in the Views of Milford Sound

These are the views you’ve probably seen on postcards of New Zealand ~ in a word: stunning.  Milford Sound can be reached as a day trip from Queenstown, or you can go on a tour & spend more time there.  The main issue (especially if you want great photos) is the weather.  Most of our trip, the Sound was socked in with rain & fog.  Spend enough time in this area that you’re able to visit the Sound on a clear day, if possible ~ it will make all the difference.

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Experience the peace & grandeur of the Milford Sound.

Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel!

Thanks for reading this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to New Zealand Travel!”  Have you been there as a female traveler?  What was your experience like?  Let me know in the comments below! 

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