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PACKING GUIDE - Must pack items for your New Zealand road trip

PACKING GUIDE - Must pack items for your New Zealand road trip

You’ve booked your tickets and planned your trip, now all that you still need to do is pack your bags. This might seem easy, but when we first set out we didn’t bring a lot of things that we should have brought, and packed a lot of things that we should have left behind.

So here is a list of items that we think are, in addition to the basics, essential to make the most out of your epic New Zealand road trip. Some are quite obvious, while others are easily overlooked.

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Milford Sound Must pack items Travel New Zealand

Backpack / daypack

Even if you already have an awesome backpack, you’re not gonna take all your stuff with you everywhere you go so you’ll need a daypack, and picking the right one makes all the difference. You want it to be big enough to fit everything you need during a day activity or hike, but not so big that it becomes bulky and uncomfortable. We really like the Osprey Daylite Plus. It’s smaller version, the Osprey Daylite, is an award winning bestseller daypack, but with only 18L carrying capacity it is too small for us. The Osprey Daylite Plus has a 30L carrying capacity, adjustable straps to make it fit comfortably, many pockets like a sleeve for a laptop/tablet inside to keep things organised and it weighs only 400 grams. Alternatively we like the North Face Borealis Backpack, or the Marmot Kompressor Plus Rucksack as a compact hiking daypack.


E-reader and boardgames

New Zealand’s nature is insanely green which is really pretty, but also means that it rains a lot. So no matter how well you plan your trip, there is going to be downtime. Pack an e-reader loaded with good books, a deck of cards and some boardgames. We bought a travelers edition of Rumikub and played it so much that we were seeing numbers in our sleep, and we play Settlers of Catan (put all the components in pouches instead of taking the whole box with you) when we have enough space to lay it out. This will keep you entertained on days when you’re stuck inside.

Some of the books we are reading now:

Lake Tekapo Must Pack items for New Zealand Road Trip


Now that you know that rain even found its way to New Zealand, a rainjacket is a pretty obvious item on your packing list. Bring one that is light, durable and ofcourse; waterproof. If you don’t have one already, let us suggest some for you. The North Face Venture 2 Jacket is breathable, waterproof even in pouring rain, durable, looks stylish (comes in about a million colours) and is still very affordable. Overall we think this is your best bet if you’re on a budget. Oh, and there’s a female version too. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, the Marmot Minimalist is a premium, high quality every day use rain jacket with Gore-Tex waterproofing. For absolute top of the line quality you should go for the Arc’teryx Zeta SL, but that also comes with a top of the line pricetag.


Swimwear and towel

Of course you’re gonna bring your swimwear when you go on a summer trip, but even if it isn’t hot and summery outside, you should still pack it. A big part of New Zealand is volcanic, and as a result of this volcanic activity there are some natural hot pools that are perfect to chill in, especially when it is cold outside. Around Rotorua and Taupo there are some that are free to access, but if you want to step it up a bit there is something even better. You might have heard of the famous Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel, and there is another far less crowded one near Kawhia. Bring a shovel and look for the smell of sulfur and bubbles in the sand, this is where a stream of hot water flows underneath the beach. When you have found your spot, dig untill hot water comes up and you’ll have your very own hot pool at the beach! Don’t forget to bring a towel. We can highly recommend the sand-free beach towels by Tesalate. They are quick-drying, sand repellent and come in many super cool prints. On top of that you get a 10% discount on your first order when you register on their website.

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Tesalate Beach Towel Must pack items for New Zealand road trip
Hot Water Beach Kawhia Must pack items for New Zealand road trip

Hiking shoes

Even if you’re not into hiking, you should still bring a pair of good hiking shoes with you. Quite a few of the places you probably wanna see aren’t accessible by car meaning that you’ll have to walk the last bit (which is often a lot more than just a bit) and New Zealand’s terrain can be very unforgiving. Let’s just say that your feet and ankles will thank you when you have hiking shoes. If you’re planning on doing some actual hikes (definitely check out Tongariro crossing), we recommend getting waterproof shoes with some proper ankle support like the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX or the Merrell Moab 2. If you’re into trail running or just want decent lightweight shoes to walk on difficult terrain, the Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX will suit you perfectly

Read next:

The 4 best hikes in Mount Cook National Park



Some very smart people have developed some very smart apps to make travel a lot easier. These are the ones we you should absolutely have installed for your New Zealand road trip because they can be lifesavers!

  • Campermate

    This app was first designed with freedom campers in mind, but has since developed into a must have app for anyone traveling in New Zealand. Not only does it show you the location of free campsites, it also shows you the locations of different types of (paid) accomodation, public toilets & showers, water filling stations, petrol stations, points of interest, suggested activities and so much more. On top of that the marked locations are filled with reviews from other users telling you if they are any good. During our trip in New Zealand this app basically became our NZ guidebook and we would have missed out on so many awesome experiences without it.


    Google Maps is awesome, but you can’t plot a route in Google Maps if you don’t have any reception, and New Zealand is full of areas where there is no reception. So unless you want to wrestle with an oldschool map, is your solution. Once you’ve downloaded the offline maps (when you still have reception of course) of the areas you are going to, all you need is your GPS location and will show you the way.

  • Gaspy

    Gaspy tells you where you can find the cheapest fuel in your area. A couple of cents a liter difference doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of several months it adds up to hundreds of dollars that can be saved. It relies on data entered by other users so it isn’t always a 100% accurate, but it is getting more and more accurate as more people are using it.

  • Music ap

    A road trip isn’t a proper road trip without tunes. Make sure you have a music app like Spotify, Soundcloud or Tidal and fill it with your favorite playlists and podcasts so you’re never without music to sing along to.


Now that you’ve come to rely on all those apps on your phone, you can’t have your battery dying right? If you’re like us, you’re not gonna be driving enough every day to keep your phone juiced up with the cigarette lighter charger in the car so you are gonna need a powerpank. Things to consider here are ofcourse capacity, price, weight, size and utility. For a cheap and high capacity powerbank to charge phones and small usb charged devices the best deal you can get right now is the 22.000 mAh RAVPower. An alternative that fits in your pocket but still has a reasonably high capacity is the 10.000 mAh Anker PowerCore. Wanna go for utility? Then the 20.100mAh RAVPower AC Outlet Power Pank is the one for you. It comes with a 3A USB-C port and has an AC power plug and built in inverter to get you 60W 110V AC power meaning that you can even charge laptops with it. The biggest downside is it’s weight though, weighing over a kilo it is very heavy for a power bank.


Other stuff you shouldn’t forget

  • A warm sweater

    Even in the middle of summer New Zealand evenings can get really chilly, so bring something warm so you can enjoy those summer evenings outside.

  • Sunscreen

    You’ve probably heard of this thing called the ozone layer and it getting thinner because of the use of greenhouse gasses. Well, the ozone layer above New Zealand is really thin, making the sun super dangerous. To prevent the sun from damaging your skin, make sure to bring and regularly apply high SPF (at least 30+, but 50 advised) sunscreen.

  • Insect repellent

    Everyone hates mosquitos, but New Zealand has sandflies which are even worse. Bring insect repellent to make both mosquitos and sandflies less tempted to bite you. Although locals will probably tell you that sandflies will still bite no matter how much repellent you use, and the only remedy real is to wear trousers and long sleeves.

  • International bank account

    When you use your national bank’s debit or credit card, they usually charge you a fee for using your card abroud and converting currency. Transferwise lets you transfer money internationally for very low fees. For example from a European bank account to your freshly opened New Zealand bank account. If you open a bank account with them and get a Transferwise debit card, withdrawing money at a foreign ATM is free of charge up untill £ 200,- a month and 2% after that, which is still lower than most banks. By using this code to sign up with Transferwise, you can even transfer the first £ 500,- completely free of charge!

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Must pack items for New Zealand Road Trip
Mount Cook Road Trip New Zealand

Alright, that’s it. Now you’re ready for your own epic adventure! And we are super excited for you because road trips are the absolute BEST! Let us know where you are planning to go to in the comments,


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