We are notorious last-minute packers which means having a packing list for New Zealand is a must for us to make sure we remember everything we need.

Over the years, we’ve spent over 8 months in New Zealand – first when we did a working holiday visa there back in 2017 and then we went back earlier this year.

If there’s one thing that’s good to know about New Zealand, it’s that you can expect all kinds of weather. There’s even a joke that says you can expect all four seasons in one day!

In the summer it can get really hot, up to 40 degrees Celsius (it’s not common, but it can happen), and in the winter you can ski both on the north and the south island!

We’ve also experienced days where it was 12 degrees Celsius in February (which is summer in NZ) where it snowed on the mountains in Queenstown.

So you need to pack for a bit of everything and be prepared when visiting this beautiful country.

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What to Pack for New Zealand

Stunning mountains near Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand.
Queenstown Bay Beach and The Remarkables as seen from Lake Wakatipu

In this post, you can find a list of all the items we brought on our recent 2-month-long trip to New Zealand (and a few we wish we had brought).

This packing list contains all the standard things that every traveller needs while visiting New Zealand – including accessories that are good to have for hiking and exploring!

If you insert your email in the form below, you will be able to download the packing list, print it out, and check off the items as you pack for your trip!

#1 LifeStraw Water Bottle

If you haven’t heard about LifeStraw water bottles before, they will change how you drink water forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but it definitely makes it easier and better to drink water from literally everywhere.

LifeStraw water bottles are different from regular water bottles because they come with a built-in filter that makes any water drinkable.

On top of that, they are eco-friendly and so handy. Even though it might seem like it’s just a nice accessory to have we definitely recommend buying one to bring along wherever you go.

The bottles aren’t too expensive and the cost of buying plastic water bottles adds up in no time. Plus plastic water bottles are crap for the environment as we all know.

It’s nice to know that wherever you go you can reuse your Lifestraw and know that your water is drinkable while you’re being good to the environment.

Although the New Zealand tap water is drinkable, we often fill up water while hiking and you just don’t always know if the water is good for drinking or not!

They’re great for all the hikes you’ll do in New Zealand + all the awesome day trips where you’ll be able to hopefully fill it up.

We’ve had our LifeStraws for a few years now and absolutely love them.

#2 Eco-Friendly and Reef Safe Sunscreen

Sun Bum on REI | Sun Bum on Amazon

Reef-safe sunscreen is a win-win for everyone! It’s better for your body and better for the oceans, so why not?

We love Sun Bun since it is eco and reef-friendly. At the end of the day if everyone can do the little things it adds up. Especially if we want these beautiful places to last longer.

Since it is reef and eco-friendly Sun Bum is a little more high-end than the standard sunscreen brands but it’s totally worth it.

The smell of coconut is also a lot nicer than the not-so-nice smell from the majority of regular sunscreen brands that are also crap for the environment.

So why not do our part and buy some eco-friendly sunscreen?

We got SunBum for our trip to New Zealand and the smell of coconut is so good – and knowing this sunscreen is better for the environment makes it a win-win!

#3 Sunglasses

One thing we’d highly recommend is bringing a cheap pair of sunglasses on your trip. You can get replicas of your favourite brands online before you go.

Especially with all the hiking, swimming, and outdoor adventures you can do in New Zealand, it’s best to not bring your best pair of glasses.

You won’t have the stress of damaging your nice pair while you’re at the beach or forgetting them while you’re hiking in New Zealand.

So make your life easy and buy a cheap pair (that can still last a long time) before you go! =)

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Then check out our New Zealand Maps with +200 locations around the country that we have visited during our 8 months of living and travelling in NZ! 🗺️

#4 Cordless Headphones

We’ve both had cordless headphones for the past two years and they make a world of a difference.

It might seem like a bit of a luxury but they’re so nice to have, especially while you’re travelling!

If you’re lying at the beach listening to an audiobook, a podcast, or music you won’t have to worry about having your phone out in the sun overheating.

You can put it in your day bag and not be annoyed about the cords dangling everywhere.

Since cordless headphones have been around for a while now they’re not nearly as expensive as they used to be.

We use the 2nd generation AirPods but there are lots of other great brands out there.

#5 Packing Cubes

Packing cubes have to be one of the most undervalued purchases you’ll ever make for travelling.

At first, we thought they were super overrated, but they make packing so much easier and also help with organization in your suitcase (or backpack).

We’ve been using these packing cubes for the last few years and even though it’s such a simple invention it’s actually really nice to have.

It’s definitely something you should consider buying if you don’t have some already to make your packing experience a lot easier.

It also helps while you’re in New Zealand if you’re hopping from place to place like we did, knowing what is where in your suitcase.

For us, the packing cubes came in super handy when we did two of the Great Walks (Kepler Track + Tongariro Northern Circuit) because everything was quite compact in our backpacks.

The packing cubes made it so much easier to unpack, find everything we needed for the day, and then repack.

#6 Universal Adapter

If you travel often then this has probably saved you so many times.

New Zealand has the same outlets as Australia and the Pacific Islands which are different from North America, Europe, and the UK.

So if you’re from one of those corners of the world, then you’ll need an adapter.

We recommend getting a universal adapter because then no matter where you go, you can use it. Jo used to have 6 different adapters, and it just takes up a lot of space and things get lost.

Now I have a universal one and I love it. This one specifically also has room for you to insert a USB cord so you can charge both your phone and laptop or camera or whatever at the same time! So easy 🙂

Just a small little gadget but it does so much. It’s one little thing we go nowhere without.

If you’re working remotely and need to charge stuff all the time like us then you’ll be very glad you bought one!

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#7 Power Bank

If you’re planning on doing some day trips and spending a lot of time outdoors it’s nice to have a power bank in case your phone battery gets low or you need to recharge your phone or camera.

We usually always bring one with us hiking and it was nice to have on some of the bigger hikes in New Zealand especially when we did some of the 3-4 day great walks.

Also, in New Zealand, you can pay with cash for the buses but if you need to book an Uber or a Bolt you’ll need your phone.

I think we can all agree that it’s comforting to have a power bank with you in case you need it for your phone or any other gadgets.

#8 Quick Dry Towel

No matter where you go it’s nice to pack light and not have to bring too much. Especially if you’re not planning on bringing luggage and only have a carry-on, then a quick dry towel can come in very handy.

It takes up almost no space and is very useful.

If you go visit some of the beaches along the coast and only bring a day bag, we usually bring a quick dry towel.

It fits comfortably in a little backpack and doesn’t take up too much room so you can fit more than just a towel in your bag.

#9 Dry Bag

It’s perfect if you’re like us and love going on fun adventures while you’re travelling where you may end up getting wet.

We’ve been there before and luckily have had our day bag which ended up saving all our gadgets from getting water damage.

The dry bag is always a blessing when we go on boat tours and kayak tours! It folds up so nicely too that it takes up next to no space.

#10 Hiking Shoes

On almost every hike we did in New Zealand we wore our hiking shoes, like these 3 awesome hikes near New Plymouth.

There are some hikes where you would be fine with trail shoes but we ended up having to do a small water crossing and we were so glad we actually wore our hiking shoes.

So if you have room for it, bring a pair of hiking shoes for the trip to make it easier on your feet while hiking in New Zealand.

#11 Waterproof Phone Case

Not everyone has an underwater camera, and nowadays phone cameras are so good, so why not just use yours underwater?

A waterproof phone case is a nice little accessory to have and to add to your packing list for New Zealand.

If you plan to try and get some clips while you’re swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura, surfing in Raglan, or enjoying some of the many beautiful lakes in New Zealand, a waterproof phone case is a good idea.

And it’s definitely a much cheaper alternative than buying an underwater camera. There are tons of universal waterproof phone cases so you can just pick and choose which one you like best.

Even if you’re just out kayaking or on a boat it’s a nice little safety feature having an underwater case.

You know, just in case you’re out of luck and your phone falls into the water. A waterproof case is that extra layer of protection that is nice to have.

New Zealand Packing List: Important items

Important travel items

  • Passport
  • Journal 
  • Travel insurance (read about our recommended travel insurance here)
  • International driver’s license (if you’re driving around New Zealand)
  • Visa, debit card, and/or other credit cards (if you rent a car, you’ll likely need a credit card)
  • New Zealand Dollars (most places take cards but it’s always good having some cash on you)
  • Phone, camera, gadgets, and chargers for all your electronics 

Clothing & footwear

  • Underwear
  • Sport and dress socks
  • A few pairs of shorts (running and casual)
  • Casual, dress, and sports shirts (a few of each)
  • 1-2 pairs of pants 
  • Pair of sandals
  • Pair of sneakers
  • Hiking shoes like we mentioned (if you have room)
  • Definitely a few bathing suits
  • 1 sweater

Other things to bring

  • Day bag
  • Toothbrush
  • Hairbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Body lotions
  • Other toiletries

With all of these items listed above, we’ve made a full New Zealand packing list for you – ready to print and use while you’re packing! Fill out the form here and get it straight to your inbox!

Other related questions about packing for New Zealand

Do I need walking boots in New Zealand?

Even though many of the hiking trails in New Zealand are well maintained, walking boots are still recommended for hiking in New Zealand.

You’ll still find the odd rock or root on the trail and having proper walking boots adds that extra bit of safety for your feet as you hike around the island.

What to wear in New Zealand?

New Zealand stays warm-ish for most months of the year. The North Island tends to be warmer than the South Island.

Plan to wear casual clothes in the city and bring some warmer clothes if you plan to hike up in the mountains.

Shorts and T-shirts can be worn for most months in New Zealand except for the winter season on the south island. Jeans and light jackets are nice to have to keep you warm.

What is the best month to go to New Zealand?

If you are looking for good weather, beautiful scenery, and a less busy time to visit New Zealand then March and April are good times to visit.

During the months of November and December, the flowers around New Zealand are in full bloom, the weather is warm and sunny, and the hiking trails aren’t overcrowded. This is also a great time to visit.

The peak season is January and February which is also when the weather is the best but it will get crowded – especially around Lunar New Year!

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Recap of your New Zealand packing list

Dom enjoying the view from the peak of Paritutu Rock.

Hopefully, this list will come in handy when preparing for your trip down under!

One of the main things to consider about New Zealand, especially if you’re into hiking and outdoor activities, is that even though it can be peak summer and warm, the mountains can still be chilly.

In New Zealand, you should always be prepared for all kinds of weather – especially if you’re doing lots of outdoor activities on the south island.

Basically, you’re going to have to pack a bit extra but it’s worth it for all the adventures!

If you have questions about New Zealand or are stuck in your packing process feel free to reach out.

You can always DM us on Instagram @redwhiteadventures or you can leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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