December 17th, 2012

The Ultimate New Zealand Packing List

The Ultimate New Zealand Packing List

Planning your trip to the adventure capital of the world? You won’t want to miss this packing list for your New Zealand getaway.

When I was packing for my open-ended trip to New Zealand last year, I had a one-way ticket and a work visa good for a year’s stay. I knew I’d be living out of a travel pack for some time and wanted to take only the essentials to travel light. The problem is, New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world, and I planned on having plenty of adventures. That requires a certain amount of gear on top of the usual backpacker’s scant wardrobe, so I needed to plan carefully.

This was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants journey with a healthy dose of the unknown. But a few things I didknow. I’d be WWOOFing on organic farms [work attire], backpacking in the mountains [camping equipment and warm hiking attire], playing in the ocean [swim wear], and occasionally dipping into civilization [presentable dinner/pub attire]. And I’d be documenting it all, which meant a few electronics and some old-fashioned pen and paper.

The action-based approach was the right way to go in a country like New Zealand that demands movement and adaptability. I knew I could come by some things--like a surfboard and wetsuit or fly rod, plus certain toiletries--after I arrived. But, as an avid backpacker and camper, I didn’t want to take a chance with my wilderness essentials. In the end, I opted out of any bulky standard luggage (it’s best to be able to carry your loads on your back in New Zealand) and went with an ample 85-litre travel pack for gear and clothing with a smaller daypack for personal items like books, camera, and an extra layer. Luckily, I also had a travel companion, so a few things, like computer and cameras, could be shared between us.

Here is the perfect packing list I was able to compile based on my own travel experience in the great country of New Zealand:

Clothes (Layers are key)

  • Jeans (one pair)
  • Shorts (one pair)
  • Wool socks
  • T-shirts and button-ups
  • Zip-off quick-dry hiking pants
  • Quick-dry shirts for outdoor activities
  • Fleece jacket
  • Lightweight down pullover
  • Base layers (top and bottom)
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain jacket


  • Tennis shoes
  • Flip flops
  • High-cut waterproof hiking boots (wear these on the plane to save room in your luggage)
  • Water shoes/sandals (with buckles or straps to stay on your feet)


  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Bandana
  • Watch (water-resistant)
  • Wool beanie
  • Lightweight insulated gloves

Gear and Extra (This might seem like a big list, but is most important for New Zealand travel.)

  • Lightweight 2-person backpacking tent
  • Down sleeping bag (15 degrees or warmer)
  • Ultra-light inflatable sleeping pad
  • Pots and backpacking stove (buy fuel after you arrive because it’s not allowed on the plane)
  • Trekking poles
  • 3-liter water bladder (such as CamelBak)
  • Water filter/iodine tablets
  • Lighter and matches
  • Small med kit (ibuprofen, bandages, gauze, tape, etc.)
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Headlamp
  • Batteries

Toiletries (You can buy most items locally, but bring any of your preferred items)

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra contacts and solution
  • Bar of soap & Deodorant
  • Toiletry Kit 
  • Razor and shaving cream (or just grow a beard!)


  • Digital camera
  • Mini HD video camera
  • iPod/Music Player
  • Laptop (This is optional. I needed it to document my trip for a story, but it can add extra weight if you don’t absolutely need it.)
  • Tablet/Kindle (optional)
  • Electronic chargers and adapters 


  • Passport and driver’s license (plus copies of both)
  • Credit cards
  • Cash
  • Pens and notebook/journal
  • Books and guide book


  • Travel Pack (with chest strap and waistbelt for heavy loads)
  • Daypack 
  • Camera bag
  • Packing Cubes & Sacs

by Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek is an invitation to discover the wonders of humanity and our planet. From city parks to exotic destinations, we equip you with the durable and versatile gear to take you beyond your fears and outside your comfort zone. We believe the experience of the unknown inspires a deeper understanding of each other, a curiosity for the unfamiliar, and fresh perspectives on life. We know the further we travel, the closer we become to each other and to the planet we share.