How to Avoid Sandflies in New Zealand
The best way to avoid pesky sandflies is to stay indoors for the length of the New Zealand summer. But we all know that this is not going to happen. New Zealand is an outdoorsy country after all! So what can you do to stop sandfly bites?
Sandflies are about the same problem in New Zealand as mosquitoes anywhere else. Some people get bitten like crazy, while the lucky ones are just sitting next to them laughing. Some people have allergic reactions, while some have a couple of small bites that barely itch. In this list, we’ll give you a few handy tips to help stop the sandfly bites while you’re exploring New Zealand.
1. Keep Moving
An early Māori legend says that sandflies were created to punish laziness and it is easy to see where the legend comes from. Sandflies tend to go crazy on people who just sit there and wait. However, keen hikers who are constantly moving or beach-goers who are having fun in and around the water seem to be much less attractive. So keep active and stay sandfly-free!
Need some hikes to inspire you to move? Check out The Top 50 Hikes in New Zealand.
2. Use Insect Repellent
There are a ton of insect repellents on the market, from the hardcore chemical ones that will kill you before they kill the sandflies to the one that smells like a candle but is not effective at all. Your best bet is to wait to be in New Zealand and get an insect repellent in one of our local pharmacies. You will find that the insect repellent sold here works much better on sandflies than your European or North American ones.
3. Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
That’s a bit of an obvious one but if you keep your skin covered, the sandflies can’t come and bite it. So set aside a few light long-sleeve layers when packing for your trip to New Zealand so you have something to wear in summer when the sandflies are out.
For more clever suggestions, check out New Zealand Packing List: What to Pack for New Zealand.
4. Travel in the Shoulder and Low Season
Sandflies tend to be out in summer. It is pretty rare to find sandflies outside of October to March. So that’s just another great reason to travel in the shoulder and off-season in New Zealand. You’ll have a great time exploring the country when there are fewer tourists. Plus, you’ll have a bite-free trip!
5. Don’t Hang Out Near Running Water
Sandflies breed in running water and are especially prolific at beaches, lakes, rivers and wetlands. If you want to avoid sandflies, choose to have that picnic in a drier environment away from water and humid areas.
6. Pray for Wind
Sandflies cannot handle wind. It simply locks them where they are and they are unable to take off. So pick a windy day or a windy spot by the river and you will be much less annoyed by the flying insects.
7. Eat Marmite or Vegemite
Ok, let’s face it, only a few can handle the smell of Marmite or Vegemite, let alone its taste. However, with these yeasty spreads being rich in Vitamin B, it is proven to be an excellent insect repellent after only a few days of eating them. You either love them or you hate them, so try them with a bit of butter on some toast to start you off. If you really can’t stand the taste (we don’t blame you), move on to our next tip.
8. Take Vitamin B Tablets
So you’ve tried Marmite and told yourself that it was not worth it? We get it; you have to be a tough Kiwi to like Marmite… Your alternative is Vitamin B tablets. This will help you raise your Vitamin B intake almost instantly and hopefully keep the sandflies away from you.
9. Take Antihistamine
If you have any questions about antihistamines, ask your doctor. In short, these pills are a remedy against an allergic reaction. Because of their active ingredients, they are also a great option to prevent bites in the first place. You can find them at any good pharmacy or get them prescribed to you by your GP.
Antihistamines are also a recommendation in our Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand + Medication to Pack.
10. Avoid the West Coast
Really as a last resort, as we don’t recommend that you miss any part of New Zealand, avoid the areas where sandflies are most prolific. The West Coast region of the South Island is famous for its abundance of sandflies, especially in summer. This even includes the Fiordland National Park and places like Milford Sound.
How to Stop Sandfly Bites From Itching?
If you get bitten by sandflies and they leave a nasty itch, rub a dry bar of soap on it for about two minutes. The itch should start reducing in no time. Read our series of 10 Life Hacks to Make Travelling in New Zealand So Much Easier for more good stuff like that.
Other methods to stop sandfly bites from itching include:
- Antihistamine cream
- Calamine lotion
- Antihistamine pill
The worst thing you can do when bitten by a sandfly is excessively scratching the itch. If you break the skin, this could lead to a secondary infection and make matters worse. Resist all urges to scratch a sandfly bite. The itchy sensation of a bite should reduce in 1-2 days.
More About How to Stop Sandfly Bites
That’s it for our advice on how to stop sandfly bites. For more health tips, check these out:
- 10 Best Insect Repellents for New Zealand
- Is New Zealand Safe?
- 30 Backpacker Hacks That Everyone Should Know
Finally, for more essential tips for your time in NZ, be sure to peruse the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.