The Complete Packing List for New Zealand
Packing before a big trip like one to New Zealand is exciting, yet still pretty stressful. This complete New Zealand packing list aims to remove the anxiety by listing all of the essentials. You’ll know exactly what to pack for New Zealand after scrolling through our easy-to-follow bullet points.
By the way, have you seen our complete travel guide to New Zealand? That has much more tips to help you plan the perfect trip.
What Luggage to Take: Day Pack and Backpack/Suitcase
Before we jump into what to pack for New Zealand, you need something to pack it all in. We recommend either a large backpack or suitcase per person (or per adult if you’re a family) and a day pack per person.
Backpack or Suitcase?
Everyone has an opinion on whether a backpack or a suitcase is better for New Zealand. A suitcase is often more convenient if travelling by car/campervan and with no intention of doing a multi-day hike. A large backpack, such as the ones we list in What is the Best Backpack for New Zealand? tend to be more versatile; better when using other transport means and for doing a lot of walking. Find a more in-depth comparison in our backpack vs. suitcase for New Zealand guide.
Which Day Pack?
Choose a versatile small/medium backpack as your day pack. That way, you can use it as your carry-on luggage on your flight to New Zealand, as well as a bag for when you’re out and about exploring New Zealand.
If you plan on doing a lot of day walks, make your day pack one that is suitable for hiking, such as this 22l Osprey backpack. If not, we like the eco-friendly Herschel day packs made from recycled plastic bottles.
What Clothes to Pack for New Zealand
Whatever the season, the key is to pack versatile outfits and lots of layers! New Zealand has a very changeable climate where, even in summer, you could wake up with sunshine and end the day with rain and chilly weather. A rainjacket and mid-layer are essential at least to have in your day pack so you can throw them on if needed.
As for the quantities of clothes, we recommend packing enough for almost a week. When needed, use the laundry facilities, which are found in most accommodations.
The below list is per person, applying to every member of your group (or just yourself if travelling solo), including men, women and kids.
- 1 Leggings/sweatpants
- 1 Hiking pants
- 1 Shorts (summer)
- 6 Tops/T-shirts/singlets
- 1 Light long-sleeved top (protect yourself from the sun in summer)
- 1 Thermal underlayer (top and/or bottoms for winter, spring or autumn)
- 1 Sweater/hoody/fleece/mid-layer
- 1 Waterproof and windproof jacket (make it a warm jacket for winter)
- 6 Socks (a mix of woollen and cotton)
- 6 Underwear
- 2 Bras (if applicable)
- 1 Hiking shoes
- 1 Flip-flops
- 1 Swimwear
- 1 Suncap/sunhat
- 1 Beanie (winter)
- 1 Scarf/neck-warmer (winter)
- 1 Sunglasses
The above list is the bare essentials for a trip to New Zealand. Some travellers might prefer to take an extra city outfit (jeans/sundress/shirt/casual shoes). However, you will not look too out of place in outdoor gear in a city – the New Zealand fashion sense is pretty casual.
Pyjamas were not included on this list, as you can always sleep in your sweatpants/leggings/shorts, tops or undies. However, feel free to add them if you prefer.
Packing for the Season
Note that the packing list for each season is slightly different, so check out our seasonal packing lists for New Zealand:
Toiletries to Pack
We all have our own regimes (or lack of) when it comes to hygiene and beauty. Below are good things to remember but they won’t apply to everyone.
- Sunscreen (at least SPF 30)
- Insect repellent (summer)
- Hair bobbles/bands
- Feminine hygiene products
- Contact lenses/glasses
- Prescription medication
You may have noticed that we didn’t include soap in this list because it’s usually included in most accommodations except hostel dorms, campervans or campsites, so take some if you are staying in one of those.
Note all of the above (except prescriptions) can be bought in New Zealand supermarkets and pharmacies.
Medication and First Ait Kit
Accidents or unexpected illnesses can happen, so be prepared with a small travel first-aid kit. Take it in your day pack.
- Disinfectant wipes
- Gauzes with clips/tape
- Hand sanitiser
- Antiseptic cream
- Hydrocortisone cream
Again, you can get medication in New Zealand supermarkets and pharmacies. For more stuff to stuff into your first aid kit, see our Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.
And for all that extra stuff that doesn’t fit into a category, here are some other items to add to your New Zealand packing list.
- New Zealand travel adapter
- Camera/action camera
- Electronic device chargers (extra batteries are a good idea)
- Driving license + IDP (if driving)
- Flight ticket + return ticket (or sufficient funds)
- Visa + supporting evidence (if required)
- New Zealand dollars (enough for the first few days)
- Credit/debit card
- Reusable water bottle/water bladder (tap water is safe)
- Food containers (if self-catering)
- Shopping bags (if self-catering)
- Travel towel (if camping or staying in hostel dorms)
- Travel games/entertainment (especially if travelling with kids)
For some cool but admittedly not essential stuff to take with you to New Zealand, see 14 Genius Travel Gadgets for New Zealand.
If you plan to stay in a tent, camp in a campervan or do a multi-day hike where you’ll stay in a backcountry hut, there are some other things worth packing for New Zealand.
Camping in a tent
- Lightweight tent
- Sleeping mat
- 4-Season sleeping bag
- Camping stove (get gas canisters in New Zealand)
- Camping cooking utensils
Check out our Camping Essentials Checklist for New Zealand for a more comprehensive list. Plus, see DOC Campsite Pass: How it Works & is it Worth it?
Camping in a Campervan
- 4-Season sleeping bag (if bedding is not included and/or you’re camping in winter)
For more ideas, head to the 12 Essentials to Pack for a New Zealand Campervan Trip.
Staying in Huts for Hiking
- 4-Season sleeping bag
- Camping stove (get gas canisters in New Zealand)
- Camping cooking utensils.
For more advice, check out New Zealand Hut to Hut Hiking: What is it Like to Stay in a Hut? and DOC Backcountry Hut Pass: How it Works & is it Worth it?
Packing for Longer Trips
New Zealand is a popular destination for long-term trips, especially as the visitor visa allows most nationalities to stay for up to three months. In addition, many travellers choose to come to New Zealand on a gap year using the working holiday visa or as an international student.
The good news for packing for a long-term trip to New Zealand is that all of the information above applies! Some of the following items are worth adding to your packing list:
- Passport-sized photos (for an 18+ ID, for instance)
- Photocopies of your passport
- Copy of your work visa + supporting evidence (for example, the working holiday visa requires evidence of sufficient funds, onward travel ticket and travel insurance – more information at Arrival Advice: Passport Control and Immigration)
- Travel insurance
- Smart/casual outfit (for work/job interview)
Remember, you can get a lot of gear in New Zealand, so you can still pack lightly for a long-term trip. For more advice, head over to The Ultimate Packing List for an Extended Trip in New Zealand.
More New Zealand Packing Lists and What to Pack for New Zealand
That’s it for our complete packing list for New Zealand. Now, you might also be interesting in these other guides to check out what to pack for New Zealand:
- 10 Items You Should Definitely Not Pack for New Zealand
- 15 Essentials to Pack for New Zealand
- What are the Best Cheap Hiking Boots for New Zealand?
- What Clothes to Pack to Backpack in New Zealand
- What to Pack for a Gap Year in New Zealand: Pre-departure Checklist
Plus, find more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.