My boyfriend is obsessed with the outdoors, clothing with a purpose, and most of all, gear. He has an army and policing background and is an absolute pro in anything and everything from packing, hiking, camping, and of course, gear. He loves researching and testing out top-of-the-line gear in order to maximize the best results possible whether at work or out in the wild hiking and camping with me. I’ve learned a lot from him, everything from particular clothing brands, clothing materials, and numerous pieces of equipment. It’s fair to say that he has taught me all the useful and helpful things I know in regards to the best and most efficient way to do things in the outdoors.
When we traveled to New Zealand together, a very outdoorsy and adventurous country, we were both in love with the country and the scenes and landscapes it presented us with. I love nature and adventure, he loves adrenaline sports and the outdoors . . . it’s a perfect match!
The weather in New Zealand can change in an instant. It’s a pretty tricky country to pack lightly for because of this. We traveled during the fall, probably the most unpredictable of seasons in New Zealand. If you want to be prepared for any weather condition New Zealand throws at you, your packing list should include diverse and cross-functional pieces of clothing and equipment:
Protection from the Elements Gear
Rain – It rains a lot in New Zealand. It didn’t stop pouring rain for two weeks straight when we were in New Zealand – we landed the first day that the five month long drought finally ended. That is something we definitely could not have predicted.
My boyfriend despises the concept of an umbrella, and by default, I do too. Instead of packing a bulky or flimsy umbrella, invest in a quality raincoat with a great hood and rain-wicking material. I have the Marmot Elan Jacket. The reason why I love this raincoat so much is because it’s amazingly waterproof, lightweight, and also looks stylish as I coat I could wear anywhere, really. It doesn’t provide any warmth and should only be treated as a shell, which makes it great for layering.
Sun – Sunscreen is a must! The sun is very strong in New Zealand, even if it’s cloudy! You will either get fried from the sun or windburned without it. (I will fry regardless of where I am so if you’re like me, sunscreen and sunglasses is obviously always essential no matter where you’re going). Bring some aloe for the days you do get sunburned. You also need to bring a sunhat of some kind, whether it’s a wide brimmed hat or a baseball cap (I brought a baseball cap due to its easiness to smush in my backpack).
The Cold – Underneath your rainproof layer you will need a warm layer. I have the Arc’Teryx Atom LT Hoody – a lightweight, breathable and insulated hoody. It’s great either on its own or as a layering piece in colder weather. I get cold very easily and this jacket keeps me nice and cozy. I love it! My boyfriend has the same jacket and he is also obsessed with it.
Scarf – I wore a scarf just about every day. I’m always wearing scarves normally, but spending so much time outdoors really warranted my scarf obsession because they kept me that much warmer.
Socks and underwear– Lots of them. With all the hiking and bipolar weather, your socks will get very dirty, sweaty, and wet, and they don’t dry without becoming incredibly crusty and smelly. So the more socks you can take with you is best. I like to bring both socks for hiking and also cozy socks for nighttime. Same goes for underwear!
Tank tops and t-shirts – For layering. When we hiked Franz Josef Glacier, we were told to wear four layers. This took a lot of thought on my behalf. I wore a tank top, a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket, and a scarf (of course). That is a total of 5 layers, 6 including the scarf. I was still pretty chilly up there but eventually warmed up after all the trekking in crampon boots. On the contrary my boyfriend wore no more than two layers and was perfectly warm, as he is a living furnace. So, know your body and then layer accordingly!
Long-sleeve shirts – Depends on how easily cold you get, but bringing at least a couple would be great.
Sweatshirt – aka “jersey” or “jumper” to Kiwis. I wore my Lulu lemon sweater just about every day at some point. It’s the perfect layering piece!
Jeans – Do I recommend jeans? I do not particularly like jeans for traveling, but since I don’t think my aversion to jeans is normal, I’d bring at least one pair.
Shorts – I wasn’t too big on shorts when I was in New Zealand, mostly because it was too cold, and also because I didn’t want to get too scratched or bug-bitten during my hikes. Think about what season will you be traveling to New Zealand in, obviously in the winter months shorts are not a necessity like in the summer.
Non-denim pants – A lot of the time weather in New Zealand might be in-between: too hot for jeans yet not warm enough for shorts. Leggings, track pants, cargo, waterproof, whatever tickles your fancy. A mix would be perfect.
Swimsuit – aka “Togs” to Kiwis. You are never too far from the ocean, no matter where you are in New Zealand. The water is too cold or too rough to enter in most parts of the country, but still beautiful and great for laying out for a few minutes. I wore my swimsuit the most in the hot springs!
Towel – A quick-dry towel is a must. It’s compact, warm, and dries in half the time.
Hiking shoes – Many hikes in New Zealand are relatively short in duration, although we found ourselves hiking for several hours in Abel Tasman National Park and Punakaiki. The trails are well maintained so running shoes will suffice in most terrains around New Zealand, but I would still bring a decent pair of hiking shoes, especially if your intent is to enjoy lots of hiking and spending time outdoors!
Flip flops – aka “Jandels” to Kiwis. Not only are they critical for use in hostel showers, but everyone seems to wear flip flops everywhere in NZ. Everything is really casual all over the country.
Barefoot – If you really want to go native, just go barefoot. Whether it was in the grocery store or on the street, we saw numerous locals wandering about barefoot. The local man sitting next to us on the flight to NZ even informed us of this, explaining that when he was a kid he hardly ever wore shoes to go anywhere.
Day pack – It’s great to have a small backpack for going on day-long hiking trips, big enough to fit some snacks, raincoat, water bottle, and a few items of clothing and toiletries. Sometimes you will find yourself away from your main backpack/luggage for a night on extra long hiking trails.
Dry sacks – So important to have. If you have your bag on you and you’re outside for several hours in the rain, all the contents will become soaked and potentially damaged if you do not have any waterproof protection. Dry sacks are a great way to not only protect your items from getting wet, but they are really helpful for organization, too. You can colour coordinate them as they come in different colours – blue for electronics, orange for pants, green for shirts, etc. These dry sacks are actually so helpful and an absolute necessity!
Water bottle – New Zealand has wonderful water, so it’s nice being able to fill up from anywhere worry-free.
Quality snacks – Perfect and essential for maintaining a good energy level while doing some vigorous hiking! Foods like trail mix, bananas, dried fruit, and even good chocolate work great.
Bug spray – The mosquitoes (aka “mozzies” to Kiwis) aren’t too bad in New Zealand, but the sand flies are. Those demons bite your ass off. Sand flies are attracted to dark colours, so long pants and a long sleeve shirt in light colours is the best protection. It is always a good idea to bring along some bug spray and after-bite ointment to protect yourself as much as you can from the itches and stings!
Adapters – The universal plug adapter. It’s small, compact, and helps you take your electronics all around the world without losing a charge. No matter where in the world you are, the one adapter will do the job. I’ve used my universal adapter more times then I can count around six continents. So instead of buying individual adapter plugs per region you are traveling to, just invest in the universal plug adapter for much less hassle.
Camera and charging cables – It’s great to alternate between a digital camera, a DSLR, and a waterproof camera in the region of NZ. Depending on weather and hiking conditions, the DSLR is not always feasible, especially when you’re in or around the water. It’s always nice to have a few options!
Wifi devices: Internet is pretty crappy around the country, almost shockingly so. It really isn’t worth buying too many minutes of internet! New Zealand is very behind the social media craze as well which can be quite refreshing.
Out of all the countries I’ve traveled to, New Zealand is the safest. There is absolutely no need for anything elaborate, but a lock is always helpful for your bags. Get to know the locals and have an amazing time with no worries.
Journal – Because while I have an awesome memory normally, when I am traveling I am too distracted to remember the largest of details. Plus, it’s what I resort to for ideas I have for blog posts, the names of certain places, events that took place, etc.
First-aid kit – Pack a small and compact one that’s easy to throw in the bottom of your bag. Great to have on you at all times in case you trip, fall, or cut and scratch yourself badly on a hike.
Pens/Notepad – Always helpful for directions or for things that were recommended you do.
Passport and travel documents – Plus a couple photocopies of each, placed in different compartments of your bags. Your passport doesn’t need to be carried around obsessively as the only place you’ll need it besides entering the county is when you check in at hostels.
NZD – There are ATM’s all over the place and credit cards are usually always accepted. It’s great to carry cash but of course you wouldn’t want to have your life savings on you in cash . . . so just be aware what your bank will charge you after withdrawing money. What isn’t accepted is USD or AUD!