What to Pack for a Working Holiday or Backpacking Trip to New Zealand
Backpacking in New Zealand, doing a gap year or a working holiday? Then this is the ultimate packing list for you! Doing an extended trip to New Zealand is super exciting but the packing process for such a long time is daunting. You don’t want to get this wrong! However, we are here to ease the stress with this ultimate packing list for an extended trip in New Zealand.
From packing the carry-on luggage to deciding which clothes to take, this packing list for New Zealand will help you only pack the essentials and keep your luggage light. Although packing is personal to everyone, we try our best to make you aware of the essentials that you will really need for New Zealand.
And remember, there are a few things that are not necessary to pack, so find those in 10 Things Not to Pack for New Zealand.
Choosing a Good Backpack
Making the ultimate packing list for an extended trip in New Zealand means picking the right luggage to pack your stuff in! Your backpack or suitcase will be your companion for your entire trip, so you need to be comfortable with carrying it around the country. While most backpackers choose backpacks because they are more versatile for transporting to more locations, others find it easier to use a wheeled suitcase if they are planning on using convenient transport methods, like a car, to get between the main towns and cities. For more pros and cons to these choices of luggage, check out Backpack Vs Suitcase: Which Should You Take to New Zealand.
When choosing a backpack, make sure it is the correct size for you. There’s nothing worse than carrying a heavy backpack that doesn’t sit correctly on your back. See our tips in How to Choose a Good Backpack.
Carry-on Packing List for New Zealand
First things first, your carry-on bag has the most important packing list, as this is going to be your companion for going onto the plane to New Zealand. Your most valuable items will be packed in here, as well as important paperwork for getting into New Zealand. Make sure you not only choose a carry-on bag that is within the weight and size restrictions of your chosen airline, but you choose a carry-on that you can also use as a day pack for everyday use in New Zealand. We go into more details of airline restrictions and an in-depth packing list in What to Pack in Your Carry-On for New Zealand.
Packing List for Your Carry-on Bag
- Flight ticket
- Visa + supporting evidence (check what evidence you need to provide for your visa, 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)
- Another form of ID (if you are planning to drive in New Zealand or get an 18+ Card, have your driving license and International Driving Permit if required)
- Cash in New Zealand dollars for your first week in New Zealand
- Credit card/debit card
- Travel-size toiletries (see What to Pack in Your Carry-On for New Zealand for allowed sizes)
- Entertainment (check out How to Prepare for a Long Haul Flight for inspiration)
- Travel pillow
- Spare set of clothes (in case you get cold or check-in luggage is lost).
What Clothes to Pack for New Zealand
The key is to pack as light as possible! Remember, there are laundry machines in most types of budget accommodation around New Zealand, so there is no need to pack 10 of the same item. Picking clothing for different scenarios that you will see yourself in New Zealand is a good place to start when approaching the mammoth task of choosing clothes to pack for New Zealand. For an extended trip to New Zealand, such as a year, we recommend packing clothes for the first couple of seasons that you will be arriving in New Zealand. You will get the opportunity to swap clothes with other backpackers or go to secondhand stores (op-shops) to save money on clothing yet updating your wardrobe. All in all, pack for the scenarios; pack for the season. Here are some examples:
Clothes for Lengthy Travels/Sleeping in
Whether it’s the flight to and from New Zealand, a long drive or a bus ride, you will want some comfortable clothing. Try sweat pants, leggings, shorts, t-shirts, hoodies or sneakers/jandals. You can also use these items to sleep in (although no one will judge you if you want to bring your favourite whale pyjamas.
For Outdoor Activities
New Zealand is the ultimate country to experience the outdoors! It’s also known for having “four seasons in a day”, so whatever season you arrive in New Zealand, we recommend packing the following:
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
- Fast-dry pants/shorts
- Thermal under-layers for top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
- Mid-layers (wool or polar-fleece)
- Beenie, gloves and scarf/sunhat
- Hiking shoes or hiking boots (find out more in How to Choose a Good Pair of Hiking Boots)
- Wool socks
For City Travel/Job Interviews/Going Out
Pack a “smart-casual” outfit for exploring cities, going to job interviews or doing jobs that may require you to dress smartly but don’t provide uniform, and for going on nights out. New Zealand has a very casual attitude toward the dress code for bars and clubs, so there’s no need to pack your shiniest loafers or highest heels.
Enough for seven days should do it.
Medication and Toiletries
This is personal to everyone, but there are a few medical items you might want to consider packing for New Zealand.
You can bring up to three months of prescribed medication into New Zealand. More than that and you will need to get a letter from your doctor written in English to show at the Immigration desk. If you need more prescribed medication while in New Zealand, then don’t worry. It’s extremely affordable. Follow our advice in How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.
Mini First Aid Kit
It’s a good idea to make a mini first aid kit for yourself just in case you get a small injury or sickness while on the road. Packing a few pain relief medicine, antiseptic cream, antihistamine tablets and anti-diarrhoea is a good place to start. For a more in-depth list, check out Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.
Other Toiletries to Pack for New Zealand
There’s no need to stock up on these items, as you can get them all in New Zealand. Pack any bottles in a plastic bag in case they explode in your bag.
- Sunscreen (for both summer and winter)
- Fast-drying travel towel
- Insect repellent
- Glasses or contacts (if preferred)
- Shampoo (if preferred)
- Feminine items (if preferred)
- Condoms (if preferred)
- Make-up (if preferred)
- Hairbrush/comb (if preferred).
Other Travel Essentials to Pack for New Zealand
Now for all those little things that are essential for an extended trip in New Zealand. For more details on these items, check out 15 Essentials to Pack for New Zealand.
- New Zealand travel adapter
- Copies of your passport (can be physical or uploaded online)
- Electronic device chargers (extra batteries are a good idea)
- If you plan on camping a lot, pack a lightweight tent, 4-season sleeping bag, torch/flashlight and sleeping mat.