When I was packing for New Zealand, I didn’t really know where to start.
I knew that it was a country that could be very cold, and I also knew that I planned to live in a camper van for some, if not all, of my time there.
So, I thought I’d need to bring lots of warm clothes. I was going for two years, after all!
The problem was that I was going to be spending a few months in Southeast Asia first, so I needed to pack for both climates. This ended up being a good thing because it meant I packed a smaller amount of both warmer and cooler clothes, and I ended up using all of it in New Zealand anyway.
Whether you’re going for a shorter holiday or a longer trip, try not to pack too much. Prioritize things like hiking boots and decent rain gear and remember that there are reasonably priced clothing shops out there.
I’ve put together the ultimate packing guide for New Zealand, which I wish I’d had before I left, so that you don’t have to stress about it!
- Light layers: You may think of snow-capped mountains when you think of New Zealand, but it actually gets very hot in summer. Especially if you’re in the north of the country.
- Warmer layers: If you’re heading to the southern half of the South Island then it’ll be cold at times, even in summer. Don’t fill your luggage with lots of bulky items, but make sure you’ve got a few warm layers for those cold nights. Fleece jackets are great because they keep you warm without taking up too much space. Also, don’t forget that New Zealand is famous for its merino wool so you can always buy more layers there if you don’t bring enough.
- Active wear: If there’s one thing New Zealand is fantastic for, it’s hiking. Bring some clothes that you will be comfortable walking in for hours at a time.
- Shoes: Hiking boots, trainers and flip flops were enough for me.
- Swimwear: New Zealand has so many stunning beaches, lakes and rivers that you’ll be dying to go for a swim!
- Raincoat: You’ll probably use this quite a lot, so make sure it’s a decent one.
- Sunglasses/sun hat: Due to its proximity to the hole in the ozone layer, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, next to Australia. Protect yourself from those damaging UV rays.
- Quick-dry towel: Micro-fibre towels are great for any climate; they dry quickly and pack down small.
- Sarong: This is actually one of my favourite items to pack, as it is so versatile! Use it as a beach towel, blanket, pillow, scarf or wrap-around skirt.
- Water bottle: There are plenty of places around New Zealand where you can fill up your drinking water for free. Save money and the environment by bringing a reusable water bottle.
- Phone/camera: It’s hard to find any area of New Zealand that is not absolutely beautiful. You’ll be snapping photos pretty much everywhere you go!
- Charger/adaptor: Universal adaptors are great, or you could buy a specific adaptor for New Zealand.
- Power bank: Keep your electrical items charged on long days out with a portable power bank.
- Day bag: Of course, you’re not going to want to bring all your luggage with you every day, so pack a day bag for when you plan to spend a whole day exploring.
- Padlock: These come in very handy in hostels for locking your belongings away.
- First aid kit: This is important when packing for New Zealand. Pick up a basic medical kit and make sure to include antiseptic cream and painkillers.
- Sunscreen: Keep your skin safe with a good sunscreen!
- Deodorant: A roll-on deo takes up less of your luggage space.
- Shampoo/body wash: I usually try to get these in solid form to save space.
- Insect repellent: SAND FLIES!! New Zealand has plenty of these annoying little bugs that love to bite, plus the usual mosquitoes.
There are probably lots of other things you’d like to include on your New Zealand packing list, but I definitely recommend keeping your luggage as small as possible.
Depending on which season you’ll be visiting in, be sure to pack appropriately; if you’re only visiting the South Island in July and August (winter), you’re not going to be needing many pairs of shorts!
If you’re staying for long enough to explore both islands, which I really hope you are, just be aware that temperatures and weather conditions can vary drastically.
New Zealand is one of the most stunning countries I’ve ever visited. Whether you’re after beaches or mountains, forests or volcanoes, you’ll find it all there!
Is there anything else you’d add when packing for New Zealand? Do you have any questions about what I’ve included here? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Luggage List: Packing for Australia
- 14 Best things to do in New Zealand’s North Island
- Moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa
All images in this post belong to lastminutewanders.com
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Smith Mitchell says
It’s great that you share your experience. I am a novice traveler, and for me your blog is an aid in planning my trip. Thanks!
Thank you! I’m so glad it’s helpful to you 🙂
Josy A says
Oooh I loved New Zealand. I am really glad to see you prioritized hiking boots and good things to wear out in the wilderness, and NZ has some of the best trails doesn’t it!? 😀
The other thing I was really glad to have was insect after-bite cream. I tried with the repellent, but once those nasty sand flies have bitten you, you need something to help take down the swelling!
Oh the NZ trails are just incredible! That’s a very good point – even with repellent some sand flies still manage to get you! I found Tiger Balm was a lifesaver after being bitten 🙂
Monique Cordier says
What a great packing list! I feel like NZ has so many different landscapes that you need to be prepared for everything!
Very true! But it’s still important not to over-pack 🙂
Great packing list – I think it could work for pretty much anywhere around the world 🙂 Something that I have started to always prepare is the raincoat, regardless where or what time of the year I am going. You really never know what the weather will end up being.
That’s so true, you never know when you’ll need a raincoat. But I can pretty much guarantee you’ll definitely need one in New Zealand at some point 🙂