A question travellers often ask us is: “Packing for New Zealand holiday, what should I bring”? Well, it’s very simple – less is more! It’s most important to bring the right type of clothing for travel in NZ. New Zealand is an outdoorsy place, so the focus will not be on fancy night dresses and suits, but on practical outfits supporting whatever your trip focus is.
Key luggage aspects to packing for New Zealand
Does packing matter with the length of my holiday?
Generally speaking, the longer you travel the less luggage you’ll take with you. This is what we have experienced over the past 30 years when travelling the world. You simply cannot and don’t want to prepare for all eventualities. Sometimes you’ll see fellow travellers dragging several pieces of suitcases behind them; don’t go there. There are smarter ways to travel ‘light’.
What to wear in the great Outdoors?
We recommend the ‘onion system’, which basically means layers of clothing. Those can be peeled on and off according to the weather and location situations. This is also has the most effective benefit when reducing your packing space in your luggage. For some outdoor tours – see heli hiking on glacier – you will get special equipment (e.g. boots, rain jacket, gaiters, walking stick).
Day packs for walking in the New Zealand bush
When going hiking or walking in New Zealand’s great outdoor, always take a rain jacket as well as a day pack to fit in some extra food, water bottles, mobile phone, valuable and other helpful items (don’t leave credit card and passports in your car!). Using a day pack is also a great idea on the aircraft as hand luggage. Read on re day walk like the Hollyford Track.
Laundry options while travelling New Zealand
Now, this one is often forgotten. Most accommodation providers will provide clothes washing options. Either you have access to a washing machine and dryer or the hosts (B&B, lodges) or a concierge (hotels) will arrange this for you. Often the costs is minimal and you just pay for the washing powder. Hotels might charge you a laundry fee, so watch out for that.
Short list of practical clothing for New Zealand?
Here’s a list of key clothing items we’d recommend for New Zealand:
- Wet weather gear – such as good rain jacket, best going over you bum so all is covered in case of heavy rain.
- Sun protection – sun glasses and sun hat are must haves. You can buy strong, local sun block in NZ.
- Hiking shorts or longs – most ‘kiwi’ New Zealanders walk in shorts. If in longs don’t use jeans (not good it wet).
- Shirts and T-shirts – for walking hiking we don’t recommend cotton as it also get’s cold when wet. There are better materials.
- Walking shoes – comfortable trainers are generally fine for walks. For more serious hikes, high ankle boots are a must.
- Informal clothing for evenings – New Zealand dress code for restaurant is usually ‘smart casual’. No need for suits here.
- Warm clothing – take one or two pieces of warm clothing with you. Any time of the year. See New Zealand weather.
Other considerations for packing for New Zealand
Luggage space in rental cars and motorhomes
Depending on your rental car size your luggage space in the boot might be limited. Generally 2 x mid-size pieces will go into a Compact or Intermediate vehicle. If your suitcase is big, you might only fit in one piece and a hand bag. SUV rental cars are good as their luggage space is large. 8-seater peoplemover (especially Toyota Previas) have limited luggage space (even with their eight seats, there’s actually no space for 8 pieces of suitcases!). An interesting one are motorhomes – soft bags store better than large suitcases. Again, it all depends on the vehicle size (either camper or motorhome).
Luggage for domestic flights
With domestic flights in New Zealand you can get maximum 2 x pieces of luggage at 23 kg per piece each person – plus one piece of hand luggage at 7 kg per person. This is fairly generous. If you need more luggage you will need to purchase ahead. This is recommended, as it will cost you much more at the counter if you add more luggage to check-in.
Buy some clothing while travelling New Zealand
This is the smartest move of the lot! Instead bringing your old (and trusted) t-shirts, why not buy some while travelling in New Zealand! Add to your luggage as you go and bring back home some memorable pieces. Very popular besides t-shirts are: woolen sweaters, sun hats, outdoor clothing (we have the ‘Kathmandu’ and ‘Macpac’ brands in New Zealand). And maybe some nice fluffy sheepskin slippers!
This overall packing suggestion for New Zealand will not cover every aspect (such as bringing your own medicine), but at least it keeps your travel planning focused on the basics!