View of the water at Lake Pukaki

New Zealand Packing List: The Definitive Checklist

A New Zealand packing list is essential to have in mind before visiting the land of the long silver cloud.

If there’s one thing I learnt backpacking New Zealand, it’s that the weather can change in an instant. There are also several different climates across the country.

The West Coast of New Zealand is one of the wettest places in the world, while the North Island gets a lot more sun.

Ensuring you have a range of clothes to deal with the various weather types is essential.

I’ve listed the items that I took with me on my New Zealand trip, as well as those I wished I had taken with me.

When packing for New Zealand, this list will be your best friend!

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

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New Zealand packing list

What to wear in New Zealand

New Zealand has varying climates and distinct seasons that make it essential for you to pack a variety of clothes for your trip.

If you’re visiting during the winter, you will need to pack a jacket and warm clothes. It can get cold during the winter in New Zealand, and depending on where you go, it can rain a lot.

Visiting New Zealand during the summer, you’ll want to make sure you pack some swimwear, t-shirts and vests to make the most of the warm weather.

You’ll also want to ensure you pack a hat and take adequate protection from the sun. The UV rays are powerful in New Zealand and you can risk damaging your skin if you don’t take adequate protection.

Below are a few items I would include on your New Zealand packing list whether you are visiting for a year or not.

Beanie

If you’re wondering what to pack for New Zealand’s South Island, a beanie would be high on that list!

I ended up having to buy one after a few months when winter set in.

It gets cold in New Zealand during winter.

You will need a beanie to keep warm during these months. It can be brutally cold without one.

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Compression socks

No matter where you’re coming from, it’s a long flight to get to New Zealand. It took me 2 days to get there when I visited.

I had no idea what day of the week it was when I arrived!

The human body was not designed to be sedentary for long periods. If you don’t get up and move around you run the risk of causing your body damage.

That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a pair of compression socks.

They help keep your circulation running at optimum levels while you’re in the air. If you’re wondering what to pack for a long haul flight, these socks should be on your list!

They are a bit uncomfortable at first, but you’ll feel a lot better once you’re out and about again!

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Flip flops (Jandals)

Flip flops, known as Jandals in New Zealand, are essential when packing for New Zealand.

There are a lot of beaches in New Zealand, and you will need a pair of flip flops when you’re visiting.

Much like Australia, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk around New Zealand in flip flops. However, not all flip flops are made equal! I’ve had numerous pairs that broke after a few months.

My recommendation is to buy a pair of Havaianas. They last much longer than any other brand I’ve had.

Plus, they don’t sink like ordinary flip flops seem to do.

Havaianas may cost more than the average pair of flip flops, but they will last you much longer!

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Fleece

As I’ve already mentioned it gets cold in New Zealand. A fleece will keep you warm during those chilly winter months.

It’s also a good alternative to a thick jacket on those days where it’s not freezing!

A good quality fleece is an investment that will pay you back over the years.

Taking one to New Zealand will ensure you stay warm during the cold spells!

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Jacket

If you’re asking yourself what should I bring to New Zealand? A jacket would be one of the first things you should think of!

Regardless of whether you’re on the North or South Island, it will get cold during winter, and it will also rain. A lot! You will be frozen and wet without a jacket, I guarantee it!

Jackets may take up a lot of space in your backpack, but you get around this by wearing it during flights and sticking it at the bottom of your bag, when you’re not using it!

I recommend buying a Columbia jacket. They are waterproof and layered with a thick material to stop you from freezing during the cold New Zealand winter!

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Hat

A hat is a useful item to take to New Zealand.

It will keep the sun off your head during the summer months while keeping your head warm during the winter months.

If you visit New Zealand in December, you’ll need it to stop the Sun’s harmful UV rays from damaging your skin.

Hats don’t take up too much space in your backpack, and can be used throughout the year in New Zealand!

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Hiking shoes

Bringing a good pair of hiking shoes to New Zealand is a good idea if you plan on doing a lot of walking.

There are several excellent walking trails in New Zealand. You’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes to support your feet on these hikes.

Trainers are good, but if you plan on going up Mount Cook, for example, you will need tougher shoes.

A good pair of hiking shoes is an investment that last will your trip to New Zealand and beyond!

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Socks

I’m not a big fan of wearing socks. My feet get sweaty easily and socks only exacerbate this!

Unfortunately, I had no choice but to wear socks in New Zealand, due to the cold temperatures during the winter.

When I do wear socks, I like to wear the funkiest and jazziest ones available!

Why?

Because life is short, so why not be a bit silly!

Happy Socks are my go-to socks. They have cool patterns, as well as being made from cotton, which allows your feet to breathe!

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Sunglasses

Sunglasses are one item that should be on your backpacking in New Zealand packing list.

The sun is strong in New Zealand, and if you plan on driving long distances, going skiing or being outdoors a lot, you’ll need a good pair!

I recommend buying a pair of polarized sunglasses for travel, as they offer the best protection from harmful UV rays.

My favourites are the Oakley Frogskins. They have detachable hinges, which is great if you’re accident-prone, as you can click them back in place. Plus, they look great too!

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Trainers

If you’re wondering what to wear in New Zealand, I can safely say you will need a pair of trainers!

New Zealand is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers, you will need a good pair of trainers during your stay in the country.

I’m a big fan of Nike trainers. They are lightweight and great for walking long trails and getting around big cities!

A good pair will last you a while, and provide with some decent shoes to wear if you decided to go out drinking on occasion!

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Accessories

Bobby anti-theft backpack

The Bobby anti-theft backpack is one item I didn’t take with me to New Zealand, but I wouldn’t leave home without it now!

If you’ve ever worried about losing your valuables, then this is the bag for you!

New Zealand is not known for pickpockets, but after nearly getting pick-pocketed twice while living in Barcelona, I don’t take any more risks. Pickpockets are everywhere and you can never be too careful.

The Bobby anti-theft backpack hides the zips and compartments from view. Any would-be pickpocket has no chance of gaining access to your valuables.

If you value protecting your belongings while you travel in New Zealand, then you simply need this bag. It’s a worthwhile investment!

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Osprey 40L Backpack

Before you go to New Zealand, you want to ensure you have a top travel backpack that isn’t too big.

A 40L backpack is more than enough for travelling around New Zealand. It can be tempting to buy a bigger backpack, but you want to carry as little as possible with you!

You don’t want to carry more than you need, it’s as simple as that! The Osprey 40L Backpack is a fantastic option, you can fit a lot in.

Plus, it has the benefit of being front-loading too!

Most backpacks are top-loading, which makes it difficult to get what you want out of your backpack.

With the Osprey backpack, you can open it and get what you want with relative ease! Much simpler!

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Hanging Toiletry Bag

When I went backpacking Australia, I noticed that a lot of backpackers had these toiletry bags that would hang from their bunks.

Whereas I had my conventional toiletry bag with all my items in one place.

I made the same mistake again when I went to New Zealand and took the same bag.

Now, I would not make the same mistake again and have got myself a hanging toiletry bag.

It’s so much more convenient than an ordinary bag. You can organise your items in different compartments as opposed to having them all in one place.

It makes getting what you need much easier and quicker!

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Travel adapter

Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand, you’ll need a power adapter before you leave. It’s an essential item you can’t afford to leave off your New Zealand travel checklist!

The power outlets in New Zealand use 230/240V, 50hz and Type I prongs.

If you don’t have a travel adapter, you’ll be unable to charge your items once you arrive.

This will also be an issue on any stopovers before you get to New Zealand. Investing in a travel adapter, before you leave is a necessity!

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Portable charger

If you’re travelling around New Zealand you’ll need to be able to keep your electronics charged on the go.

There are big distances between places in New Zealand, especially if you’re in the South Island.

A portable charger should always be included when you’re packing for New Zealand.

They are small and convenient, allowing you to keep your items charged in the event of an emergency!

Taking one of these with you will ensure you never run out of power on the road again!

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Eco water bottle

I love finding new ways to make a difference when I travel. When I first started travelling, I would always buy bottles of water.

I quickly realised I wasting a lot of money and also contributing to the build-up of plastic waste on the planet.

I decided to buy an Eco water bottle for these two reasons. Not only would I be saving myself money, but I would also be helping the environment.

New Zealand is a beautiful country, it would be a crime to pollute it with plastic.

An Eco water bottle is one of the travel essentials for New Zealand you have to pack!

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Security padlock

A padlock is one item you will need for your New Zealand packing list.

If you’re staying in hostels in New Zealand, you’ll need one to keep your belongings safe during your stay.

Most hostels have lockers for you to store your belongings.

A lot of the people in hostels are honest, but you can never take any chances. I’ve heard a few stories about people having items stolen, but they are few and far between.

A padlock costs next to nothing and will ensure your items are always safe when you’re out exploring!

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Scrubba Portable Laundry System

One annoying aspect of travelling is having to wash your clothes. This can be frustrating if you’re constantly on the road in New Zealand.

The situation isn’t too bad, most hostels in New Zealand have laundry facilities. However, they cost money, and it can add up after a while!

A solution is to buy a Scrubba Portable Laundry System. You simply fill the bag with water, add your clothes and some detergent, and then rub the bag for a few minutes! In a few minutes, you’ve cleaned your clothes.

It’s lightweight and won’t take up much space in your bag!

It may seem like a strange item when considering what to pack for New Zealand, but it will save you hassle and money in the long run!

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Car charger

Road trips in New Zealand are the best way to see the country. Most cars now have a USB charging point, but a lot still don’t. If you’re travelling around by car, you don’t want your electronics to run out of battery.

That’s why I recommend buying a car charger to avoid this eventuality.

It plugs straight into the cigarette lighter, and provides an outlet for you to keep your electronics charged on the go!

If you plan on driving around New Zealand, you really should be, this is an essential item!

The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of New Zealand without battery on your phone!

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Trtl Travel Pillow

If you’ve been on a few long-haul flights, you’ll be familiar with those clunky looking U-shaped neck supports!

Well, the Trtl Travel Pillow is an excellent alternative. It’s small, easy to pack, and holds your neck in a comfortable position.

It’s a much more elegant solution to the problem than the U-shaped monstrosities!

Not only will it come in handy for flights, but it would also be ideal for road trips. Plus, it can also double up as a scarf, for when the weather gets chillier!

It’s a versatile and minimalist item that shouldn’t be left off your New Zealand packing checklist!

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Toiletries

After-sun cream

This may be a surprise to some people, but the sun is strong in New Zealand!

The O-zone layer is thinner over this part of the world, which makes the risk of sunburn higher. You should always be wearing suncream when you’re out and about in New Zealand.

If you do get sunburnt, having after sun cream can help your skin recover quicker. It contains aloe vera, which cools your skin, reducing pain and swelling.

It won’t undo any of the bad effects of sunburn, but it will reduce the pain, and make the recovery process quicker!

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Deodorant Cream

I’ve only recently started using deodorant cream, but it’s quickly become one of my favourites.

I’ve been on a quest to try and eliminate plastic from my life. Deodorant was getting in the way of that, as it’s hard to find a deodorant without it coming in some form of plastic.

This deodorant cream answered my prayers. The tin is recyclable and it’s easy to use. You simply dab your hand into the cream, rub it under your arms and you’re good to go!

It’s easy to use, environmentally friendly, and takes up minimal space! What’s not to love!

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Solid shampoo

When I discovered it was a revelation for me and my travelling life. I’m not a big fan of conventional shampoo.

It takes up too much space in your bag, and it comes in a plastic container, which is terrible for the environment!

Solid shampoo solves both of those problems. It’s more convenient, it takes up minimal space.

It won’t spill over your clothes either, which happened to me once. Plus, it does work just as well as conventional shampoo!

Give it a try, you’ll be surprised!

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Suncream

Suncream is an essential item to pack for New Zealand! You’ll regret it if you don’t!

The sun is incredibly strong in New Zealand. The country has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world!

I remember cutting the grass topless at our house one day. It was only an hour or so that I was cutting the grass for, but when I came back in, my back was bright red!

I was stupid and neglected to wear suncream and paid the price.

Don’t be like me, buy some suncream with at least SPF30, to protect yourself from those harmful UV rays!

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As well as the above, these are a few more items, that you can’t leave off your packing for New Zealand checklist!

Other

Camera

One item you want to pack for New Zealand is a camera!

It’s one of the most beautiful countries that I have ever visited! There are opportunities for great photos around every corner.

There are a lot of travel cameras out there, but I’m a big fan of the Go Pro Hero 5.

It’s one of the best for adventurous travellers, it’s durability and resistance to water make it ideal for New Zealand.

It may be expensive, but it will pay you back with great quality photos and videos!

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Hard drive

When considering what to pack for New Zealand, this is one item that I neglected to pack!

My hard drive would have been great to have on those plentiful evenings where I just wanted to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, it was 20,000 miles away in England!

Hard drives don’t take up much space and they are handy to have if you store films or TV shows on them. You can also use one to back up your photos if you wish!

There will be days where you just feel like relaxing while travelling. Having a hard drive allows to unwind with a good film, and not rely on hostel DVD collections!

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Laptop

If you’re planning on going to New Zealand for a lengthy period, you’ll want to take a laptop with you to keep in loved ones back home.

If you don’t have one already, I recommend getting a MacBook.

They are one of the best travel laptops you can buy. They are lightweight, portable and powerful. MacBooks are the ideal laptop for travellers.

They may be expensive, but they are more worth the money. Apple products have remarkable longevity and pay you back in the long run!

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Kindle

I’m a big reader! There is nothing I love more than to take a few books with me on my trips and read them by the beach or in a park.

The problem is, they take up a lot of space. I found this out in Australia when I was carrying multiple books around with me.

It was a massive pain! I ended up sending them home to free up space in my bags!

Buying a Kindle negates the need for physical books! The Kindle is lightweight and slips into your backpack easily.

If you’re a lover of books, I highly recommend you get one while travelling, you won’t regret it!

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Travel Insurance

world nomads insuranceA wise man once said if you can’t afford insurance you can’t afford to travel. These words ring true to me.

When I was in Australia I got hit by a car.

Thankfully, I only had a few cuts and bruises. However, I thought my insurance policy would have covered me.

Turns out, I bought the wrong insurance, mine only lasted for 30 days. Had my injuries been worse, I would have had a big bill!

I didn’t make the same mistake again! I bought insurance from World Nomads for when I went to New Zealand.

They have the best travel insurance for backpackers, especially for New Zealand, as they specialise in adventure travel insurance.

Travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary inclusion when considering what to pack for New Zealand, but if you don’t buy it, you may end up regretting it!

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Lonely Planet Guidebook

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, the Lonely Planet Guidebook is an essential item. It contains a host of great tips and tricks on how to make the most out of your New Zealand adventure.

I love reading about all the places to discover when I’m visiting a new country. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to do it on the internet.

Getting the Lonely Planet book ensures you have all the information you need in one place.

I guarantee you’ll find a few hidden gems and unusual places to visit in New Zealand after buying the Lonely Planet guide!

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What not to pack for New Zealand

One of the cardinal sins of travelling is to pack too much stuff.

The last thing you want to do is overpack your bag and end up carrying around items you never end up using. It will weigh you down and you might have to throw the items away if you want to lessen the load on yourself.

If you plan on visiting New Zealand for a year on a working holiday, you will need to bring a range of clothes to deal with the different climates.

If you’re visiting for a shorter period, it will depend on what time you visit as to what you will need to bring with you.

Below are a few things I would recommend leaving at home before your trip to New Zealand.

  • Books – I love to have a book with me when I’m travelling, but they take up a lot of space in your backpack. It’s a better idea to invest in a Kindle and take that inside. Books weigh a lot and if you buy too many, you will either have to leave them behind or take them with you.
  • Too many clothes – While you will need a variety of clothes, you can take too many. Half of the clothes I ended up taking to New Zealand I barely wore. I even left a few behind when I left the country. Take what you need and no more. If you desperately need something, you can always buy it while you are in the country.
  • Jewellery/valuables – New Zealand isn’t renowned for high levels of crime, but there is no point in taking a lot of jewellery or valuables with you. It’s simply not practical to have in a country like New Zealand. I would take only what you need and nothing more. When you are out and about, lock your valuables in your locker to ensure they are safe.
  • High heels – People like a drink and a night out in New Zealand, but you don’t need to include high heels when you travel. They will take up unnecessary space in your backpack and you may only wear them once or twice if at all, the whole time you are there.

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