So You Want To Go Solo
So you’ve decided you want to go solo. CONGRATULATIONS! Now you’re next big decision (and maybe the most exciting) is figuring out where you’re headed. Well I’m here to hopefully help in the decision making by recommending a place near & dear to my heart that in my opinion is great place for a first time solo traveler to venture off to. I’ve traveled solo to a fair few places in the last few years so choosing just one place was pretty difficult. That being said I took into account how some may feel more comfortable traveling solo for the first time in a country that speaks english, a country where the people are quite friendly & where the scenery would impress on a daily basis..which led me to choose to write about…New Zealand! Yep, Middle Earth is a place I would highly recommend taking off on your first solo trip.
First things first – The Visa
There are a few different visa’s for New Zealand depending on what you want to be doing and how long you want to stay. I’ll be giving you a break down of the ‘Tourist’ & ‘Working Holiday’ Visa’s. These guidelines may be different depending on what country you hail from, to ensure you have all the details best to check out New Zealand Immigration.
Tourist Visa VS. Working Holiday Visa
Okay so you’re going to NZ, great! Now do you need a visa? For my own trip over, I needed to apply for a visa being from Canada, but again double check with New Zealand Immigration to see what the rules are for your country. A visa was needed and I knew I wanted to spend as much time as possible there, and being able to work (to save for future travels) was something I wanted as well – so with that I applied for the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand. This visa can be applied for online and allows Canadians age 18-35 years old (some countries have the age limit set at 30). Once granted, the visa is good for 12 months upon entry into the country. This visa can only be applied for once in your life as well (sadly) and sponsorship is one of the only ways for Canadians to remain in NZ after the 1 year visa has expired. Once you’ve figured out your age and country you can apply for this visa online as well in a few short minutes your application will be submitted to immigration and you’ll hear back anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks on whether or not your application was successful. Now if a year seems like too long, or maybe you only have a few weeks holiday from work, then you can apply for a Tourist Visa. This visa permits you multiple entry (you can come & go) into the country for a maximum of 9 months in an 18 month period. This visa can be applied for online in a few short steps and comes with a price tag of $165.00. However should you be from anywhere outside of Canada the fees & steps may be different, but you can use the “Fee Finder” on the immigration website to calculate the cost for your nationality. In order to gain entry to New Zealand with this visa you will also be required to show proof that you will be leaving the country (in the form of a plane ticket) and substantial funds to support yourself for the time.
Now that all the administrative work is taken care of it’s time to decide where it is you want to start your Kiwi Adventure!
North or South?
New Zealand is an island that’s split into 2 smaller islands, North & South, and they could not be more different from one another. That being said both islands have something to offer every kind of traveler. Love the small surf towns on the coast? Raglan is where I’d suggest you make a stop. Want to hike to yous hearts content? Mount Cook will definitely keep you in awe. Looking for warm sandy beaches & crystal clear oceans? The Bay of Islands will set you up nicely for a perfect tan. Snow lovers? Never fear, head down to Queenstown to get your snow fix & get in on some epic parties! In my case I had a year (which of course ended up not being long enough) and I was going over in the “slow season” (October) and wanted to look for some work right away after having traveled a few months already. I arrived in Auckland, one of the largest cities on the North Island, and after speaking to some friends was undre the impression I wouldn’t stay long. People are going to have varying opinions, and while I am usually not a love of big cities while traveling, Auckland was where I spent the majority of my time when I wasn’t traveling around. Calling the city of nearly 1.5 million people home for 6+ months while working to fund trips around the North & South Islands I was lucky enough to explore all the North had to offer and am so happy I decided to stay in Auckland. The North Island is home to incredible black sand beaches, tropical towns along the ocean, amazing surf and the one & only Hobbiton.
Now while I did live on the North Island I made sure to get to the South to explore all it had to offer. And does it ever have a lot to offer, boasting insane scenery that rivals that of any Canadian province, lakes blue as can be, stretching on for miles & just about the most adventurous activities you could want in a place. From the incredible fjords in Milford Sound, to the historical views found in Dunedin, classic Queenstown mountain vibes & spectacular peaks in Mount Cook the South Island blew me away at every turn. And even though I spent far less time there than I did the North it’s a place that I will definitely be back to explore (hopefully sooner rather than later). Do keep in mind that New Zealand seasons are reversed compared to the Northern Hemisphere, so our summer is there winter & vice versa. Roads down south during winter can be a bit tricky to navigate so be sure to have an idea of season and where you want to explore.
Oh the people you will meet
Solo travel can and should be the most inspiring thing you can do for yourself. That being said, when you travel solo you never really are alone for very often. Some of my best friends to this day are people I met in New Zealand. Not only other travelers, but the people of New Zealand have got to be (in my opinion) the most friendly human beings on the planet. They are quick to welcome you with open arms and are more than happy to give you some local secrets to make sure you have the best time in their beautiful country. Whether it’s your first solo trip or your 10th, one of the things that makes travel so special is the people you meet along the way. Maybe they’re from NZ or maybe from somewhere else in the world, but with that comes even more of an excuse to return to a place or visit somewhere new to be reunited with those friends you made. No matter how much solo travel I take on, there is always a little moment where I worry if I’ll meet anyone or if anyone ill want to be my friend, but don’t worry I can say with personal experience backing me up that I was in New Zealand all of 1.5 days (mostly sleeping off the jet lag) before making a new friend, than 1 turned into 2 who turned into 4 who turned into 6…well you get my drift. Staying a hostel gives you a bigger chance of making new friends and encountering people from all over & all walks of life. If it’s something you’ve never done before, don’t worry you wont be the only first time solo traveler or hosteller in the mix.
New Zealand stole my heart within the first few weeks and I couldn’t be happier to have spent a whole 12 months meeting people and exploring all it has to offer. Although it wasn’t nearly long enough (what holiday/adventure is these days?) I look forward to the day where I get o go back, and take a whole new approach to solo travel in a place I once called home. And to any of you who still need convincing that solo travel in New Zealand is right for you?..Well let the photos here inspire you
Guest post published by Laura, from shewhowanderstheworld.com