New Zealand. The Land of the Long White Cloud. A country filled with literally every kind of landscape and climate you can think of — there are beaches in the north, snow-capped mountains in the south, glaciers descending into temperate rain forests in the west, and volcanoes in the middle.
So, needless to say, packing for a trip to New Zealand takes a bit of planning.
Here are my top 3 tips for packing for NZ:
- Pack layers — warmer than you think you'll need, because the weather can change in an instant.
- Bring something waterproof — again, that weather is unpredictable.
- Good shoes are a must, especially if you plan to do any hiking — hiking in flip-flops is NOT going to cut it here.
What to pack for a trip to New Zealand
Here's a look at my New Zealand packing list for a trip in November (which is late springtime there). This list can be tweaked for any time of year in New Zealand!
I eschewed my usual backpack for this trip, and went with my instead. It's a 60-liter bag with sturdy wheels and removable backpack straps. Knowing what traveling in New Zealand is like (i.e. no subways to climb in and out of, and mostly getting around by bus or car), I decided to leave the backpack straps at home, since I knew I would have no problem rolling my bag everywhere I would be going.
I've now used this exact bag for more than 4 years of traveling, and it STILL is holding up great; Osprey makes great bags! (Though if you want to see more of my luggage/bag suggestions, check out this post.)
I utilized my favorite (GREAT for keeping tops and bottoms organized) and and my new (perfect for socks and undies)and packed the following for my 5-week trip:
- 3 pairs of stretchy jeans
- 1 pair of
- 1 pair of shorts (mostly because I had a 3-day stopover in Tahiti on my way to NZ)
- 1 pair of long leggings
- 5 t-shirts
- 2 tank tops (for layering)
- 1 long-sleeved shirt
- 1 zip-up hoodie
- 1 layering shirt (I love this )
- 2 long-sleeved sweaters
- 3 dresses
- 1 set of pajamas
- 5 pairs of socks (including one pair of nice )
- 10 underwear (including my favorite )
- 3 bras
- 1 swim suit
- 1 long casual coat
- 1 heavier raincoat with hood by
- 1 knit hat
- 1 infinity scarf
- 1 pair of boots
- 1 pair of
- 1 pair of
- 1 pair of flip-flops (which I tossed after Tahiti)
- 1 quick-drying
- Shampoo and other toiletries (including sunscreen, which you REALLY need in New Zealand since it has basically no ozone layer)
- (this dual-voltage one is great!)
All of this easily fit into my bag with room to spare — I ended up coming home with a bunch of gifts for family and friends (we're talking 5 t-shirts, 6 tea towels, some Manuka honey, and a bunch of magnets) and could still zip the bag up without issue. Not having the backpack straps installed meant that I had an extra pocket in the back for more storage.
My STM Haven bag
My go-to carry-on backpack is usually the when I'm taking camera gear and my laptop with me, but another good option (for those not so concerned with photo gear) is the . This bag isn't too big or too small (it will fit a 15-inch laptop), and I love the “floating” pockets inside to hold laptops and/or tablets. It has plenty of other outer and inner pockets, too, including one on the side for a water bottle.
Inside this bag:
- My Macbook Air
- Electronics chargers, extra batteries/SD cards, etc.
- A so my phone never runs out of juice
- A small make-up bag (with things like my toothbrush, jewelry, etc.)
- My glasses and extra s
- A travel umbrella
My trusty Donner bag by Overland Equipment got to visit yet another continent. I love this bag because it’s roomy, yet has a lot of pockets and space for a water bottle or two on the sides. It’s super practical and useful for a traveler like me, AND it's not completely ugly. (Sadly it's not sold any longer, but this is really similar!)
In my purse (on travel days):
- Extra camera battery and lens cleaner
- Small zippered pouch with Dramamine, chapstick, Advil, etc.
- Tiny hair brush with attached mirror
- Business cards (because you never know who you'll meet!)
What was I glad to have?
On this trip, there were a few things I was super glad to have. Namely:
My prAna rain jacket
I got a right before my trip to New Zealand, and I ended up wearing it nearly every day while I was there. prAna is known for making yoga clothing, but they make a ton of other great stuff, too, including comfy pieces perfect for travel. Not only did I get lots of compliments on this jacket, but it also kept me dry exactly as promised.
(My other favorite rain jacket for traveling is the , which comes in a bunch of cool colors.)
My infinity scarf
I almost didn't pack a scarf for this trip, but I'm SO glad I threw one in my bag before leaving the house. It got quite chilly in many places, and I was really happy to have something with me so I could cover my neck. (If you want an infinity scarf that does double duty, check out – they make infinity scarves with hidden pockets!)
My hiking boots
I bought my specifically with this trip in mind, and was not disappointed at all. Not only do these boots do exactly what they promise (i.e. provide support and keep your feet dry), but they're comfy and required very little breaking in. (And are a smart investment, too!)
Convertible hiking pants
I'm not really a huge fan of hiking, but I WAS very happy to have a pair of zip-off pants with me on this trip. The pair I took were — very lightweight, yet water-resistent — though I also have another, heavier pair from prAna that I wished I had on some of those colder days.
How did I do?
New Zealand was having a colder spring than usual, and so on quite a few days I was colder than I would have liked to be. Next time, I would probably swap out one of those sweaters for a for a bit of extra warmth. And I would have packed a pair of light gloves, too — just in case.
I took too many tops (as always), but I like having a bit of variety to choose from. And I would have been fine with just 1 or 2 dresses instead of the 3 I packed. But, I think I will always be a bit of an over-packer for as long as I live. #sorrynotsorry
I also only used my microfiber towel twice on the trip (since I was mostly staying in hotels and B&Bs where towels were provided), but it takes up hardly any room, so I didn't mind that I packed it anyway.
What else do I need?
It's not a tangible item, but I also always recommend packing a good policy! That way everything from lost luggage to a bad accident is covered – because you just never know! I recommend for basic (and really affordable) travel insurance.
Stuff you might find useful:
Is there anything else YOU would put on your New Zealand packing list?