When I first published my New Zealand Travel guide I decided to push publish and add the packing list for New Zealand later on.
Weeks later and the packing list wasn’t coming together still. What do you really need to bring to New Zealand?
I live in New Zealand. I can leave stuff wherever (cheers Dad) so I’m not exactly the best person to ask.
New Zealand is crazy, it’s a once in a lifetime destination so you need to consider:
- four seasons in one day happens a lot
- the length of your trip
- your travel style
- who you’re travelling with
- personal habits etc.
So as I did with the New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries post, I’ve compiled packing lists from other bloggers who travelled to New Zealand. Rather than taking advice from a unfashionable, scruffy kiwi like me…you can learn from 10 people!
Top Tips To Keep In Mind When Packing For New Zealand
- Pack layers
- Bring a jacket that’s both water & windproof (multipurpose clothing wins)
- If you have favourite products you use, don’t be surprised if they aren’t available in NZ
- It’s usually cold in the shade (ahem, Southerly), even when the sun is beaming
- Bring cheaper alternatives if you plan on doing lots of adventure activities
The 5 Essentials For Your New Zealand Packing List
- Thermals (male, female) – to keep you warm without the bulkiness
- Fleece – just that little bit warmer while wind and water proofed
- Sunscreen – the hole in the Ozone isn’t nice on the skin and sunscreen is expensive in NZ
- Scarf – you may prefer a sarong. Both are highly versatile, always have one on you
- Compression Socks – for the long flight to New Zealand (DVT is real) and they’re warm
Amanda From Dangerous Business – Don’t Underestimate Gloves
Amanda spent November, 2014 in New Zealand. The weather was a little bit cooler than she anticipated so would have taken a sweater and taken a zip up fleece if she had her time again. Though her last minute decision to take a scarf saved her big time.
She decided to take her rolling bag (60 litre) rather than her backpack which sums up New Zealand. A suitcase is fine, but not practical if you are going into the middle of nowhere for days at a time. It depends on how much hiking you plan to do.
I’ve never been one to wear gloves, but agree with Amanda that they’re a good idea to bring.
Checkout her full packing article here.
Phoebe From Little Grey Box – Always Have A Swimsuit Handy
Phoebe visited New Zealand for 10 days in winter so there’s plenty of warm stuff in her pack of course. Definitely checkout the article, it is full of packing wisdom!
A few of her best packing tips for New Zealand:
- Buy high quality, quick drying snow gear as you hopefully only ever need to buy it once
- Take your swimmers because in winter there are always thermal pools around the country to enjoy
- Pack a black jacket as it’s the easiest colour to disguise yourself as dressy
- Thermals trap a warm layer of air close to your body. Pack a set and make sure they’ll fit under your jeans.
Courtney From Travel Daze – Dry Lips Are The Worst
Packing for an extended OE isn’t easy, but if you can keep things simple you won’t go to far wrong. Courtney kept is simple with her packing list, simply listing everything she packed. The one thing that jumped out at me was the three lip balms.
Lip balm (a.k.a chapstick) is expensive in New Zealand. If you’re prone to dry skin, don’t be surprised to find your skin and lips drying out constantly. It’s the only place I consistently need chapstick around the world.
She did well with only taking a 46 litre backpack, although her 23 litre day pack was too big she found.
Jamie From Ink And Adventure – Them Pesky Layovers
Given New Zealand is 12+ hours away by plane for most, it’s not uncommon to have a long stopover somewhere in Asia or the Middle East. Jamie had an interesting stopover in chilly South Korea while New Zealand would be in the middle of summer during her three weeks in New Zealand. This meant she had to pack for two seasons!
- Bringing stuff you can mix and match & multipurpose items is massive
- A pair off shoes/ that slip on and off is handy (she didn’t bring any)
- A fleece was a good idea for the cold windy days
Renée From Avec-Amour – Don’t Overthink It Too Much
Renée went back and forth leading up to the three week trip with the wildly fluctuating weather patterns but found herself packing very similar to she would as any other trip. Ah contradictions, got to love them 🙂
I like how she deemed some of her items as power players. For the casual section, power players included a maxi dress, thin sweaters and a scarf. For hiking, the power players were the rain jacket, beanie and moisture wicked layers. Beanies are perfect for New Zealand, a southerly isn’t very fun for your ears.
Sara From Live Love Sara – NZ & Western Canada = Same Same?
Sara hasn’t been to NZ but found herself helping her friend pack for a spring honeymoon trip as the packing guru. She figured the climate is similar to Vancouver (temperamental weather) and suggested items she would pack for a trip there more or less.
I really liked the tips Sara gave about packing for the plane trips. Wear your bulkiest & heaviest items on the plane. It makes packing so much easier, especially if you’re struggling to fit everything in.
For me, I always take my hoodie on the plane…turns out it is partially for this reason as I normally just tie it onto my large pack that I check in. The other reason? It’s snuggly!
Casey From Land Of Marvels – Shoulder Seasons Are Awkward
Casey booked her trip in that awkward time period of the shoulder season. In November there are still going to be some freezing cold days, but there should be some glimpses of summer with really warm days.
She got everything right overall by packing layers, using warm vests (light sweaters) and scarves. These are all able to be removed throughout the day when it gets warm…and put back on when sitting in the shade.
Olivia Via Travel Fashion Girl – This Local Knows More Than Me
Olivia is a kiwi and provides a tonne of advice in this packing list piece for Travel Fashion Girl. You can get a real breakdown of what you ‘should’ expect in each season and items to help you get by.
She does bring up a good point. If you need to buy things in New Zealand, three of the main retail stores that have a good balance between fashion and price: Glassons (ladies), Hallensteins (lads) and Cotton On (male and female). Keep an eye out for them, they’re all over New Zealand.
She also mentions stubbies. I travel with a pair and always get comments about there shortness…fair enough too. You won’t be out of place in NZ though, get yourself a pair and head to the local pub for an afternoon pint.
Sazan From Sazan.Me – Must.Stay.Practical.
Sazan summed it up when she said “The goal is to pack light but bring my entire life with me?” while packing for NZ.
She was going on a slightly different trip to most. A 9 day contiki with her partner that included a crazy busy schedule.
Ultimately, her hubby convinced her to pack sensible. While hats may seem like a bulky thing to pack, I have to agree with her. It’s a wise idea to bring at least one. Because wind. You can spend hours on your hair and it can quickly turn a mess when you walk out the door. Don’t waste precious time and just bring a hat…it’ll save you from the sun too!
Given she was going to be doing some adventures, she packed some cheaper alternatives to her everyday wear. Leave the flash sunglasses at home!
You Will Be Doing One Of New Zealand’s Great Walks Right?
The tourism board love that the New Zealand Great Walks bring people to the country from all over the world. With such variety of terrains, they’ve made sure you are at least aware of what you should bring as it’s never fun to hear of tourists getting in trouble due to being ill prepared.
Highlight Reel Time!
- Food: Cannot be brought on the trails, so bring lots of water and food that weights little (dry) and has lots of calories (with nutrients too) such as grains, nuts, jams and dehydrated meals.
- Clothing: Do not bring jeans, cotton clothing or heavy wool clothing. Clothes won’t dry well in DOC huts, so quick drying items are preferred.
- Other Gear: Don’t give into marketing and buy every single item in the shop. A quality backpack will last you for life and for more ideas checkout the full list here
- Safety: If you aren’t using a local guide, ensure people know where you’ll be and your expected return. In the bottom of your bag, always keep an emergency flashlight and dry matches. Just in case.
Wooo. That wasn’t too long now was it! Read over this again as well as a few of the blogger packing lists that interest you and you’ll be well on your way to packing for your trip to New Zealand!