Wondering what to pack for New Zealand? Packing for New Zealand requires a bit of forward planning due to the variable, temperate climate and the wide range of activities on offer across the country. I’ve written this New Zealand packing list to help visitors plan and prep for their trip to New Zealand, because it can be tricky at times to work out what to wear in New Zealand. You can download the printable PDF checklist version of my packing list for New Zealand at the end of this post.
What You'll Find in This Post
Tips for Packing for New Zealand
- New Zealand’s climate is very changeable so dressing in layers is essential. Seriously, it’s not uncommon to have “four seasons in one day”. Blazing hot one minute, freezing cold the next.
- What do people wear in New Zealand? Kiwis themselves wear a lot of black. Kiwis also keep their clothing choices pretty casual compared to European or American standards so don’t feel like you need to bring your best clothes. Think easygoing, practical outfits.
- Shoes are optional. It’s not uncommon to see Kiwis wandering around with no shoes on… in supermarkets, gas stations, shopping malls. Feel free to forego footwear. Give it a try!
- Sun protection is essential. The hole in the ozone layer sits right over New Zealand and Australia which means the sun will burn you very quickly. Even if it doesn’t look particularly sunny or feel overly hot make sure you wear sunscreen and hat.
- “Stuff” is expensive in New Zealand. When working out what to bring to New Zealand, factor in that a lot of “stuff” is expensive to buy here. Basically anything produced overseas, figure on paying around double what you would in the US or UK for clothes, toiletries and gear.
(Hint: Click on any of the links in this post to find the products from this graphic!)
New Zealand Packing List
Clothes to Wear in New Zealand
When planning what clothes to wear in New Zealand, think in layers. You want to easily peel off a layer or two for warmer weather or stack on more when the weather turns colder. In New Zealand it’s not uncommon to see locals wearing shorts and jandals (flip flops) with a puffer jacket on top! You just can’t rely on the weather whatsoever. This list covers travel to NZ in any season but if you’re travelling in winter then bring one or two extra layers if you feel the cold.
- T-shirts x 5 -Bring a mix of short sleeve and long sleeve depending on which season you visit during. Bamboo ones like these are great for drying quick and avoiding odor when you’re out and about being active.
- Flannel or denim shirt
- Cardigan – A long line Merino cardigan like this is perfect because it’s lightweight and packs well
- Hoodie or sweater
- Merino base layer – So useful! NZ is home of the famous Icebreaker Merino but it’s actually quite expensive to purchase here unless you find an outlet shop.
- Packable down jacket
- Packable rain jacket
- Pants – Something suitable to outdoor activities, hiking etc
- Dresses x 1 or 2 – Bring something you can dress up at night if you need to or layer with leggings and a cardigan for day
- Sleepwear x 2
- Underwear x 7
- Bras x 3
- Socks x 4 – 1-2 pair of Smartwool socks are a good idea especially if you’re hiking or doing outdoor activities
- Swimsuit – Kiwis call them “togs”
- Beanie – If travelling outside summer
- Scarf – If travelling outside summer
- Gloves – If travelling outside summer
- Sneakers – These Sketchers Go Walk sneakers are the best travel shoes ever!
- Flats – Nice sandals if you’re travelling in the summer, ballet flats for spring or autumn, ankle boots for winter
- Hiking shoes or boots – If you plan on undertaking any serious “tramping” (that’s the Kiwi word for hiking!) and make sure you boots are extremely clean for quarantine purposes.
- Flip flops – A.K.A. jandals in Kiwi slang!
While you can buy all this stuff at a supermarket or pharmacy when you’re in NZ, if you’re coming from the US or UK, bring it with you. In general toiletries are a lot more expensive in NZ. You’ll be shocked at the price of sunscreen in NZ! You can download my new toiletries list for travel here too.
- Shampoo – Decant into a GoToob
- Conditioner – Decant into a GoToob
- Lip balm
- Menstrual cup – An eco-friendly, reusable alternative to tampons
- Hairbrush or comb
- Hair ties
- Bug spray
- Any medication you use – NZ drug regulations are quite strict and, some things you can by over the counter abroad, require a prescription here.
- Small travel mirror
- Small make up bag with essentials – BB cream, mascara, lip gloss (you don’t need a tonne of make up here ladies!)
First Aid Kit
You’ll find a pharmacy in most NZ towns, even smaller ones, but it does pay to pack a few items in a small Ziploc bag so you have a mini first aid kit at the ready. In general OTC medication is more expensive than it is overseas.
- Neosporin – We don’t have it in NZ!
- Band aids
- Painkillers – Like paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Hydrocortisone cream– For bites or rashes
Remember, if you’re coming from the North America or Japan, NZ’s power supply is 230/240 volts so you’ll need to bring dual voltage devices or a voltage converter.
- Camera – My Sony a6000 mirrorless camera is compact but takes amazing photos
- Action camera – A Go Pro is ideal for a NZ trip because of all the high adrenaline activities you’ll be doing!
- Smartphone – Pick up a 2 degrees SIM card when you arrive in NZ. Prepay options are cheap, mine costs $19 a month for 1GB of data plus calls and texts.
- Waterproof / shockproof smartphone case
- Chargers for all your devices
- Travel plug adapter
- Powerstrip – So you can charge all your devices using the one travel plug adapter
- External battery pack
Other New Zealand Travel Essentials
Other things to pack for New Zealand, to make your trip easier:
- Passport – Make sure your passport has at least one month validity after your intended exit date and one blank page for entry / exit stamps.
- Return ticket – You can come into NZ on a visa waiver for 90 days if you’re from one of these countries or for 180 days if you’re from Britain but you must have a return ticket or a ticket departing New Zealand within that time period or you won’t be allowed on the plane to NZ!
- Credit card & debit card – You can pay almost everywhere in New Zealand with “EFTPOS” (with your debit card) but some small shops won’t accept credit cards. It’s easy to get money from ATMs also so there is no need to change money before you arrive.
- Driver’s license – For hiring cars and also for using as ID when buying alcohol. Even in supermarkets at age 34 I get ID’d!!
- Travel insurance – Do not travel without it! Click here if you want more info or to get a quote on travel insurance.
- New Zealand guide book
- Refillable water bottle – Bottled water is expensive in NZ and tap water is 100% ok to drink across the country.
- Steripen or Lifestraw – You can’t drink stream water when hiking in New Zealand because of giardia! If you’re doing a lot of hiking or multiday hikes then bring one of these water purification options with you.
- Travel towel– Only if you’re staying in hostels or camping
- Travel pillow – The flight to NZ is long!
- Compression socks – Again, that flight down under is super long!
- Travel sink plug and travel laundry detergent sheets– So you can wash items as you go
- Travel umbrella – Again, unpredictable weather!
- Headlamp – For night walks visiting glow worms, hostels or camping
- Eyemask – If you’re travelling in summer it’s essential as it doesn’t get dark until at least 9.30pm
- Travel padlock – If you’re staying in hostels
- Pens – Within easy reach when you fly to fill out the lengthy customs forms when you arrive and depart
Luggage to Bring on a New Zealand Trip
There’s a few things you should know about how to pack for New Zealand:
#1 – Backpack or suitcase? Which you choose will depend on the type of trip you’re taking. If you’re staying in hostels and busing or hitchhiking around the country then bring a backpack. This is my absolute favourite backpackfor travel as it fits SO much gear in and is still small and comfortable to wear. If you’re roadtripping around New Zealand in a car or campervan, staying in hotels or motels, then bring a rolling suitcase.
#2 – Air New Zealand and Jetstar both restrict carry on baggage to 7kgs only. They will weigh your carry on bag when you check in so there is no getting around this. Unless you’re planning on travelling very light, you’ll need to check a bag when you use domestic or trans-Tasman flights (to Australia).
Other luggage items for packing for New Zealand:
- Foldable daypack – For day hikes
- Cross body bag – For city exploring
- Purse or wallet
- Packing cubes– Read this guide to packing your luggage with packing cubes. Trust me! You won’t regret it.
- Laundry bag
Printable Packing List for New Zealand
You can download a PDF version of the packing list New Zealand travellers need to prep for their trip. You can download it in PDF format so you can print it out at home and check things off as you pack.
New Zealand: What to Pack Questions
I hope this has helped you work out what to take to New Zealand. If you’ve got any questions or comments on what to pack to New Zealand, what do they wear in New Zealand or want to let me know of something you packed on your trip, then leave a comment below!