Decided to visit New Zealand? ✔
Booked your flights? ✔
Chosen Stray as the best way to see the country? ✔✔✔
Now all you need to do is pack your bag and you’re away! But what to bring?
We’ve compiled the Ultimate NZ Packing List as your go-to guide on what to pack for your epic Kiwi adventure.
Suitcase vs Backpack
Ah, the great question for the modern traveller: how are you going to carry all your gear?
Honestly, go with whichever option you’re more comfortable with! Both suitcases and backpacks have their benefits. So long as you keep the weight to under 15kg (33lbs) for your Stray trip and can easily carry it and load it on your own, no one is going to judge you on which type of bag you bring.
However, we strongly recommend that you bring a smaller day pack in addition to your main piece of luggage. Then, you can just take what you need in your day pack and load your suitcase or backpack in the luggage compartment for the day. A day pack is also a must have for any walks or day hikes you plan to do.
Comfortable, sturdy walking shoes: You don’t need to bring your hiking boots, but a good pair of broken-in walking shoes are an absolute necessity. You’ll be pretty active every day and a lot of activities require close-toed shoes for you to participate. (If you are planning on climbing some mountains or doing a multi-day Great Walk, then proper hiking boots are the wiser choice.)
Rain jacket or waterproof jacket: Regardless of where you are in the country, it rains in New Zealand year-round, so a quality lightweight wind and waterproof jacket is a must have.
Clothing you can layer: We cannot guarantee the weather, but we can guarantee you will be most comfortable travelling with plenty of removable layers. A lightweight merino layer is always a good idea because the fabric adjusts to your body temperature.
Warm jumper/hoodie/jersey/sweater: Whatever you call it at home, a warmer outer layer you can use when it’s not raining is handy.
Non-cotton long pants: Why so specific? Hear us out. Imagine you’re out walking the glorious Tongariro Crossing, but suddenly the weather takes a turn and next thing you know you’re soaked. Spending the next 4 hours in sopping wet jeans will be miserable. A pair of fast drying, non-cotton long pants is a much better choice in case of fickle weather. Examples: exercise leggings, hiking pants from an outdoors store.
Jeans: That’s not to say you have to leave the jeans behind! Pack them too. You’ll definitely use them.
Scarf or shawl: Possibly one of the most versatile articles of travel clothing you can possess! It can keep the sun off your shoulders, protect you against a chilly evening, serve as a blanket on the plane or bus or even use it as an impromptu picnic blanket. People swear by their travel scarves!
Jandals/flip flops/thongs: Again, what you call them depends on where you’re coming from, but having footwear other than your walking shoes is essential.
Sunglasses and brimmed hat: The sun in NZ is super strong and you can burn no matter what time of year it is. Be sun smart and protect your face. Extra points if you bring a reef-safe sunscreen that won’t harm our oceans!
Swimsuit: For swimming at the beach in the summer or dipping into the hot pools in winter.
Reusable water bottle: New Zealand’s tap water is drinkable and delicious (if you’re ever in a place where it’s not, there will be signs). Do the eco-friendly thing and refill your water bottle rather than buying single-use plastic every day. Bonus points if you invest in a reusable coffee cup too.
Towel: Many hostels do provide towels (sometimes for a small hire fee), but we’ve found most people prefer to bring their own. Even better if it’s a quick drying one!
Electronics & their chargers: Phone, camera, GoPro, laptop, e-reader…whatever gadgets you consider necessary for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Just remember to pack the right chargers and clear your memory cards since you’ll be taking a zillion pictures. When it comes to adapters, bring one from home or pick up one here at a pharmacy.
Medications: Make sure you bring your prescription medication as visiting a doctor here can be a costly exercise (around $80NZD). Other than that, pharmacies in New Zealand are well stocked with all the usual general medical supplies (paracetamol, Berocca, multi-vitamins, etc.) in addition to adapters, so if you can’t fit everything in your bag or forget anything, you can stock up here.
Toiletries: Obviously bring your toiletries, but try not to go overboard. If you’re going to be in NZ for more than a couple weeks, we promise you will be able to buy sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, bug spray and every other basic necessity here!
Other Seasonal Essentials
Beanie/wool hat & gloves: For keeping your noggin and hands toasty warm on those chilly days.
Thick wool/non-cotton socks: If your feet get wet while you’re out and about, wool will keep your tootsies warmer than other kinds.
Shorts/skirts/dresses: These might have already made the cut as part of your layers of clothing anyway, but it gets quite warm in summer so lighter, breathable options will serve you well.
Spring & Autumn
Not gonna lie about this one – just pack everything listed above!
Quick reminder about NZ’s seasons:
- Summer: December – February
- Autumn: March – May
- Winter: June – August
- Spring: September – November
Not that this means anything at all because New Zealand is infamous for its rapidly changing weather and the possibility of seeing all four seasons in a single day! They’re more what you call guidelines than actual rules.
Last minute words of wisdom
- Remember that New Zealand shops have just about anything that you forget to pack! For cheaper options, we recommend visiting The Warehouse, Kmart or a local pharmacy.
- Keep in mind you may pick up a few souvenir t-shirts from your bungy jump or skydive while you’re here, so leave some room in your bag!
- When in doubt, we love this packing advice: Lay everything out in front of you. Leave half of what you think you need and bring twice the money!