Traveling to New Zealand is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people. It is on countless bucket lists due to its unparalleled beauty and untouched nature.
Its rugged landscape makes it a paradise for backpackers and hikers alike. And of course, if you are a Tolkien fan, you may have a desire to see Middle Earth with your own eyes.
These were our reasons. My husband and I fell in love with the beauty of New Zealand onscreen but nothing prepared us for what it would be like to see it in person. Nothing can quite describe it. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.
My husband saved and planned six years for this trip but I only knew the location six months before we boarded the plane.
I was beyond thrilled to be going but I was quite frazzled trying to plan outfits since we would be gone three weeks, taking only a suitcase and backpack each and I had to plan for chilly Spring weather in New Zealand and humid weather in Fiji. (That was also part of my husband’s surprise.)
I had to get creative with pairing since I couldn’t pack much. The effort paid off; not only did I pack just enough but I still had plenty of room for souvenirs.
My backpack was full of camera equipment, a laptop and TONS of charging paraphernalia. Most all my necessities were in my suitcase. It was a tight squeeze in there but it worked.
Ok, let’s get down to business. First, some tips we found helpful then a list of packing essentials for visiting during the Spring.
TIPS for New Zealand in the Spring
- Pack layers! In the Spring, the weather fluctuates constantly. Thankfully, being from the Midwest, I was used to experiencing all four seasons in one day.
- Bring Sunscreen. I was told I would need it every day but that was not the case for me. I only needed it at the Bay of Islands. (Which I didn’t use—and got burnt—but that’s another story.)
- Buy a parka. Or several disposable ones. Packing an umbrella is crazy. Usually, the winds are too strong to use it and a parka frees your hands for pictures.
- Layer your pants, too. We hiked the Ben Lomond in the rain. It was also very cold. I layered thermal leggings under my hiking pants and was toasty all day.
- Bring good shoes. We splurged on this and I’m so thankful; our feet thanked us, too.
- Bring waterproof (not resistant) backpacks. We lost an Ipad due to rain that got through during a hike. Even in my waterproof bag, there was some moisture but nothing damaged.
- Consider renting. If you are going to be doing some serious hiking and want to save on luggage, you can rent hiking essentials in New Zealand instead of bringing your own.
- Pack according to your destination. Depending on what you plan to do and which island you visit will determine what you should pack. The South Island is more casual and plenty of hiking/adventure activities, whereas the North Island, has more of the city life where you might want to dress up a little more. I brought a pair of flats and a nice top to “dress up” my look and was just fine.
- A rain jacket will serve you well. I wore mine every day and layered a sweater only on chilly days.
- Pack only essential toiletries. If you are staying in motels, don’t bring shampoo, lotion or soap. The motels provide plenty and they’re really nice! You will need most of everything else, although some hotels offer extras. There are convenient stores everywhere but if you are trying to save money, bring your own.
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PACKING ESSENTIALS for New Zealand in the Spring (1 week)
- 5 pairs of underwear (You can wash laundry most anywhere.)
- 2-3 tank tops
- 3-4 shirts
- 1 pair of leggings
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 1 pair of hiking pants
- 1 pair of walking/hiking shoes
- 1-2 pairs of warm socks
- 1 pair of a dressier shoe
- 1 pair of sandals/flip-flops
- Hat and gloves (or buy there for great quality Marino wool!)
- Rolling suitcase A must! We LOVED these suitcases! They even expand for more souvenirs! 🙂
- Camera Backpack If you are going to bring electronics with you, I HIGHLY recommend this! It has more features than a car! haha
- Toiletry Bag I really like this one. I even did a review on it; you can read that here.
- Packing Cubes These really come in handy, especially when you need to pack light!
- Mineral-Based Sunscreen Lotion Yes, I know this formula is for “babies” but I love this stuff!
- Disposable Rain Poncho You will spend $5-7 for one in NZ, so you can’t beat a deal like this!
- Sunglasses I left mine at home and it was one of our first purchases in NZ. The sun is bright!
- Collapsible Water Bottle I drink water all the time so bringing my own was a must. However, having one that collapses would have been SO nice!
- Power Converter This is a must-have! Consider how many electronics you are taking with you when you buy one; you will want a couple.
- Power Bank With all the electronics we brought with us (Camera, Drone, Gimbal, etc) this was an absolute lifesaver! If you are planning to bring anything besides your phone, I can’t recommend this enough! The last thing you want is to have a low battery in New Zealand!
I think I hit on most of the packing essentials that we found useful. I’m sure there are plenty more that I forgot so I will update as I think of more. But remember to pack light, especially if you are traveling by bus a lot, you don’t want to drag a ton of luggage around with you. I’m SO glad my husband suggested we bring only the essentials.
Planning a trip to New Zealand? You’ll want to check these out, too:
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.