Are you planning a trip to New Zealand and thinking about what you need to bring? It’s a tricky question to answer because each of us travels in a different way and a different style. However, if your goal is to pack somewhat light, and want to bring the camera gear to capture the beauty of the country, here is a thorough list of everything that I brought to New Zealand for three weeks in October and November as a guy. Get inspiration for things that I believe are must-brings and items that you might’ve forgotten about.
Building a New Zealand packing list to suit the trip style
First it probably makes sense to talk a bit about the type of trip that I was on. I liken New Zealand to the trips to Iceland, Ireland, and South Africa – one where it's road trip heavy and a majority of it is set outside big cities and instead in open nature.
What makes this trip a little different from them is that we elected to travel through New Zealand with a company called Flying Kiwi. Think of them as an adventure bus tour that focuses on experiential activities and gives travellers the optimal opportunity to see New Zealand’s outdoors by lodging either at campsites, holiday parks, and hostels. While it’s not necessarily geared towards backpackers, it’s a trip for those with an adventurous spirit and love meeting new people.
You can read my full review of the Reverse Traverse itinerary of Flying Kiwi which goes into more detail on what makes this tour different from others, why I thought it was a great choice compared to when I did New Zealand independently, and who the tour is for (coming soon).
To summarize, this was a trip to New Zealand in the Spring season with a focus on the outdoors, adventure activities, and camping.
Read more about New Zealand
The packing struggle is real
I have to say, packing never gets easier no matter how much you travel. There’s just so many changing factors and every trip is truly different.
In the week leading up to the trip, as I was dumping things in a corner at home, it really became a question of trade offs. “Should I bring this?” and “what if I need that?” were questions I kept asking. Ultimately, decisions had to be made.
Considering that we'd be on a bus tour and camping, trying to pack minimally was a priority. That said, no matter how minimal you try to pack, you’ll always end up bringing a bit more than you need hence the need for a check-in suitcase between the two of us.
Where to stay in New Zealand
I found a ton of great affordable rental homes that you couldn't even find on Airbnb. One thing you'll realize in NZ is that it's dominated by hostels but don't be afraid to book with them because they're typically very well kept, clean, and affordable.
The New Zealand packing list
So let’s get right down to it. Prior to departing on my trip to New Zealand, I snapped these photos of everything I packed so it’s a very thorough look at what I brought for this trip and what I typically bring on my travels.
I won’t be numbering the items in the photos like I tried to do for Peru but what I’ll be doing as a rule of thumb is going from left to right in the photo. I’ll name the product with a link (where it makes sense) in case you want to pick it up along with a small blurb for why I packed it.
This was probably the most challenging to figure out. I knew the Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack was the perfect bag for the job however as I collected everything I needed for the trip, I quickly realized that a one-bag-carry system just wasn't going to cut it. The travel backpack is perfect for all of my tech gear when I fly but there's no way to fit clothes in there too.
As a result, the suitcase got thrown into the mix since I didn't want to travel with two backpacks. While a bit clunky, for a trip where we'd either be on a Flying Kiwi bus or with our own rental car, it didn't seem like too bad of an idea. Plus it'd give us a bit of extra space in case we bought anything.
- Peak Design Travel Backpack with Small Camera Cube – A bag that’s a perfect combination of capacity (up to 45L) and built-in capability for all of my camera gear. Make sure to watch my playlist of videos which reviews it thoroughly
- Ricardo medium sized suitcase – Just a standard medium-sized check-in bag
- Braun shaver – Never got used to using a blade so I bring my electric shaver on all of my trips. I don't bring a charger though because the battery always lasts a month
- Toothbrush – Electric toothbrush is just too bulky and heavy so I use old school brush
- Toothpaste – Visits to the dentist are great for cleaning and also free travel-sized samples and this ended up being good for 3+ weeks
- Emergen-C – I bring a few packets of this just in case
- Wet Ones – My wife has the hand sanitizer so I have a few of these also just in case
- Multi-vitamins – The bottle is pretty beat up at this point but I load it up with vitamins for use when I’m starting to feel under the weather
- Shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner – These are either old bottles filled up with what I have at home or taken from a hotel
- Cetaphil face wash
- Body lotion – Thank you Hilton
- Nail clipper – Hang nails are the worst!
- Victorinox Swisscard – I’ve had to strip away the knife and scissors but it’s got tweezers and a filer in case I need it
- Eye drops
- Tylenol – This form factor is nice and compact
- Dayquil & Nyquil – Always handy to have
- Muji refillable tube – I fill this up with hair gel for those fancy nights
- Gravol (dimenhydrinate) – In case of nausea and motion-sickness
- Imodium – The not-so-glamorous diarrhea relief
- Reactine – Standard antihistamine in Canada
- Bandaids – A variety of shapes and sizes
- Thermometer – To check against fever
- Peak Design Wash Pouch – As part of the new Travel Line, this perfectly fits into the backpack and is packed with features. Watch my review.
Again, keep in mind that this was for a trip in late October which is New Zealand's Spring. Plus, we were going to be camping as well so extra warmth was needed.
- Peak Design medium packing cube – Compressible packing cube that fits a lot of clothes. This was used for primarily tops
- Eagle Creek medium packing cube – A staple for every trip and used primarily for bottoms
- Eagle Creek small compression packing cube – A small compressible packing cube used for underwear and socks
- 5 regular t-shirts – One of these was used as a PJ top
- 2 dry-fit shirts
- 1 tank top – It never got that hot to wear this on it's own but it was a good additional layer
- Uniqlo heat tech v-neck – An awesome thermal base layer
- Columbia half-zip layer – A long-sleeve layer that’s a good as a thinner alternative to the fleece
- Columbia fleece – A half-zip fleece that’s extra warm
- North Face utility pants – One of the two pants that I pretty much wore everyday. These convert to shorts too which was handy
- PJ pants – One of the comfort items I just had to bring
- Mountain Warehouse Khaki pants – A second pair in the long pant rotation
- Long johns x3 – This turned out to be a little overkill but remember those freezing nights along the Inca Trail, I wasn’t going to chance it
- Level 6 board shorts – Brought these for its versatility as I could wear them as regular shorts on those hot days in the Bay of Islands or swim trunks if the Quiksilvers were still wet or smelly
- Quiksilver swim trunks
- 4 pairs of hiking socks – I recommend Columbia and SmartWool's hiking socks for their comfort, warmth, and durability
- SCOTTeVEST travel boxers – Part of the travel underwear collection when I reviewed it awhile back. More or less identical to the Ex-Officio's but I only own 1
- Ex-Officio underwear – My go-to underwear for all trips and really everyday back at home as well because they're so comfortable, light, and easy to wash/dry. I brought a 4 Ex-Officio's which means I had a total of 5 underwear
This bag features a small stuff sack with back up clothes as part of my wife's carry-on just in case the check-in was delayed. Always be prepared!
- Hiking socks
- Ex-Officio underwear
The Daily Things
These are a random mish-mash of things that either fit into my backpack or were thrown into the suitcase.
- Sea to Summit waterproof dry sack (1L) – I have so many stuff sacks at home but I thought a waterproof one might come in handy. Most times, this was just a bag to store random electronics. This ended up being a good pick because the loop built in could be used with the carabiner to clip onto the bus seat
- Australia and New Zealand outlet adapters – The top two are new ones I purchased from Amazon and were awesome because I can plug in two devices in. The third one is an old basic one and I found that I never used it in favour of the new ones
- Tissue paper – Handy to have in the backpack
- Sea to Summit wallet – I don't like to travel with my Secrid wallet and so this one is a rugged one where I'm not afraid to get beaten up and also has a zippered pocket for coins
- Burt's Bees chapstick – Dry lips are the worst
- Oceanic OCS dive watch – With a chance of diving on this trip, I made sure to bring this as my watch
- Buff gear – You know this is my favourite piece of travel gear from my review
- Mammut headlamp – Long discontinued but a necessary item especially since we were camping
- Outdoor Research hat – Foldable travel hat that was handy once we were out of the cold weather of the south
- Maui Jim Chee-Hoo with Croakies glasses strap – I've been using Maui Jim for the past 3 years and it's one of those things where once you switch, you can't go back to anything else. The clarity is incredible
- Columbia Conspiracy V Shoes – Waterproof shoes that have served me well over the past 4 years but were on their last legs
- Buff thermal – A last-minute add on with the cold weather in the South Island
- Burton thin gloves – Thin layered gloves for the everyday
- Mountain Warehouse waterproof gloves – Another last-minute throw in
- Quiksilver toque – Yes we call it a toque ;)
- Peak Design shoe pouch – A simple bag but used this to keep my shoes and flip flops contained here when it was in the suitcase
- Rainbow flip flops – I still stand by my claim that these are the best flip flops ever! Read my original review. Great for around camp, hostels, and the beach
- 20L stuff sack – Laundry bag
- Waterproof phone bag – With water sports like diving, and kayaking, I knew this might come in handy
- Water bottle – I didn't want to bring something bulky
- Inflatable solar LED lamp – I wouldn't normally bring this but figured it'd be handy at camp
- Cliff and Kashi bars – A little back up food
- Sports microfiber towel
- Therm-a-rest camping pillow – Since this wasn't something that could be rented from Flying Kiwi, this was another necessity. This has to be the most comfortable camping pillow on the market
This is what kills me every time because I'm almost forced to bring way more than I wish I needed to but alas, it's part of the job.
Let's start with everything in the super handy Peak Design Tech Pouch. Just like how I demonstrate in my video review of the pouch, all of this fits inside and is great for the plane and organized access to everything I need
- Envelope of NZD – We exchanged money ahead of time at home. For our 30 day trip, we started with $1800 NZD
- Dive log book
- International Driver's License – Didn't need it in New Zealand but since I have it, I figured I'd bring it
- Yellow Fever vaccination – Again another thing we didn't need but just part of the core travel docs I bring everywhere
- KableCard – A new gadget I picked up on Kickstarter that comes with a SIM card remover, LED, and wireless charging pad
- Xiaomi 10,000 mAH powerbank – Fits in the Tech Pouch perfectly and with some airports not allowing power banks greater than 10,000, this is as big as you want to go
- Apple Airpods with silicone case – More of a luxury item than anything
- Business cards
- Samsung T5 2TB SSD – Life changing for video editing. It's credit card sized and much safer to travel with since there's less worry of dropping it and damaging a standard disk hard drive
- MacBook power block
- UE900 wired earbuds – Awesome headphones from way back but I bring them for the plane
- Microfibre cloth
- Nexus card – If you travel a lot and you're Canadian, you have to get one and here's why
- Membership cards
- Dongles (USB 2.0 to USB-C x3, Micro-USB to USB-C, MicroSD to USB 2.0, SD to USB 2.0) – A necessary evil
- Peak Design Tech Pouch – My favourite item from the Travel Line
Not shown here are the charge cables. It kind of sucks that I have to bring this many but it's the world we live in right now.
- USB-C to USB 2.0
- Micro USB to USB 2.0
- Lightning to USB-C
- Lightning to USB 2.0
- USB-C to USB-C
Over the years I quickly learned that having enough juice for the day is key. What's bad is when you run out of battery during the day and what's worst is when you can't charge fast enough each night to keep up. That's why I've had to go with a dual battery charge system.
- GoPro dual battery charger – Basic charger offered by GoPro but I find that it works well compared to the third party ones because they go fully in
- Olympus BLN-1 Dual battery charger – Yes it's bulky but a single battery charger just wasn't cutting it and so I invested in one of these. It can also be adapted to use the cigarette adapter
- Mavic Pro charger
- Mavic Pro car charger – In case there was a chance to be able to charge on the Flying Kiwi bus or in our rental car
- Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac – I kind of just stuff everything in this bag which has a handy carabiner built in
- GoPro Hero 5 with Fusion Grip – For the adventure sports and driving, it's still a good versatile camera. Just make sure it's not set to wide angle unless you really need it
- GoPro Fusion – The newest toy in the collection that seemed to make sense in a place like New Zealand with things like skydiving and bungee jumping
- GoPro red filter – For diving
- GoPro batteries
- GoPro mount buckle
- GoPro sticky mounts
- Cold shoe extension bracket – Gives me the ability to mount the light and mic together
- Rode VideoMic Pro – Great shotgun mic
- Tascam DR-10L – Awesome independent lavalier mic that I can stick in my pocket and fire up when I need it instead of a complicated wireless system
- Peak Design Capture – Clipped onto the Travel Backpack for quick access to my camera and the most asked about piece of gear on Instagram
- Aputure AL-MX – Since there was a chance that I'd be doing some shooting in poorly lit locations
- Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8 PRO – Deciding to only go with 2 lens and with 12-100 covered, I knew I needed my wide angle for vlogging and landscapes
- Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f4.0 PRO – When paired with the Olympus OM-D EM1 MK2, you get an additional stop of stabilization and eliminates the need for a gimbal
- Think Tank PixelPocket – Carries all of my SD and MicroSD cards
- Olympus BLN-1 batteries – A total of 4 camera batteries have been a sweet spot especially with all the video I'm shooting
- DJI Mavic Pro batteries
- DJI Mavic Pro drone
- DJI Mavic Pro controller
- Ballistic case for drone and remote – Sweet case for the Mavic that keeps things organized and compact
- GoPro Timer – Glorified egg timer but does the job for timelapses
- RAM suction mount – One of the best suction mounts on the market
- GoPro bike handle mount
- JawClamp mount – Versatile clamp for awkward areas
- Chest mount – I've found myself using this less and less these days but I brought it just in case
- Head mount – More useful than the chest mount in my opinion
Tripod and Data
- Sirui T-024X carbon fibre tripod – Relatively unknown brand but it's the perfect travel tripod
- Skyroam wifi hotspot – Use code SKYROAMINGAWESOMEPLACES to pick yours up at 10% off. If you're curious about more information, make sure to read my full Skyroam review.
Laptop and Documents
- Printed documents – Plastic folder keeps all of the confirmation documents together
- Apple 13″ MacBook Pro (2016) – A bit of a necessity for me since I back up all of my footage into the SSD
Formatt Hitech Filters
I didn't know if I would have time to do long exposure photography but I always bring this set now because most of all of my epic photography is thanks to this.
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra Landscape kit – I have adapters for the 72mm thread of the 12-100mm and wide angle of the 7-14mm
Since I shot all these photos on the day I was flying out, I missed a few things so wanted to put these in here for completion.
- Olympus OM-D EM-1 MK2 – My do-everything camera
- The clothes I was wearing for our first flight
- Pens in tech pouch
- Hand sanitizer
- 2 large carabiners
- 2 recyclable shopping bags – the kind that collapse into a small pouch and typically used for groceries
- TSA lock – A good deterrent for the suitcase and we learned later good for the tent as well
I'll also slide in here the fact that I'm glad our airline reminded us that we needed to get the Australia ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) since we were starting the trip with a couple of nights there. It was super easy to fill out and only cost $20 AUD per person. We were approved almost instantaneously.
Book with Flying Kiwi
If you're looking for an incredible experience around New Zealand without the stress of planning it all out yourself, the chance to travel with amazing people, and explore New Zealand the way it was meant to be seen – the outdoors with a ton of adventure, check them out!
Use the Flying Kiwi promo code “GOINGAWESOMEPLACES” to get a free sleeping bag rental (valued at NZ$60) for your entire trip!
Did I pack correctly?
So it's inevitable that out of everything I brought, there were some “uh oh” and “phew”s along the way. It's hard to predict everything you'll need on the road and this trip was no exception.
Here's a little retrospective of our trip to New Zealand and ultimately what was useful and what wasn't.
What I forgot to pack
Road trip items for the car – For some reason these totally slipped my mind because I was so focused on the bus trip with Flying Kiwi.
- USB cigarette adapter – I always bring at least one of these on road trips and we really needed one too because the car rentals we got in NZ were all pretty old and ghetto. Without one, we ended up having to use our power banks to charge our phones while navigating
- Phone mount for the car – We ended up using the cup holder when I was using my phone for GPS navigation or Chantelle would have to hold up the phone for me when driving but it would've been nice to have something like the Kenu Airframe
- AUX cable – I totally forgot that all the budget car rentals in New Zealand are really old cars and likely without Bluetooth.
- Waterproof pants – It was a lot wetter than we thought it'd get but I should've anticipated it. Full water proof pants like the Columbia Rebel Roamer Pant would've been nice to have
- Warmer fingerless gloves – I ended up buying a pair of merino wool ones in Queenstown since I felt my thin gloves wouldn't cut it and my waterproof winter gloves would be overkill
- Waterproof shoes – As much as I love my Columbia Conspiracy hiking shoes, I didn't realize that there were holes on both of them which basically rendered their waterproof effectiveness to 0. Damn
- Neck strap – I only use a wrist strap on the Olympus OM-D but when doing activities like horseback riding, what I really needed was a proper Peak Design strap so we had to improvise since
- Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook – How could I go to New Zealand and not have this ready in my back pocket? We ended up buying a copy in a coffee shop
Didn't bring enough of
I think if anything, I really should've brought more business cards since we were travelling with so many people through Flying Kiwi. It would've been nice to be able to hand out cards to every single person but I ran out towards the end.
Along the way, I also bought an extra pack of AAA batteries for the Tascam lav as it seemed like I was burning battery faster than I thought. In the end, I didn't need it as I had an extra AAA in there already.
What ended up being super handy
- Carabiners – This was more to Flying Kiwi than anything but these were incredibly useful to clip onto the handle of the seats in front of us meaning we could hook on bags and other things to keep things organized at our bus seats. The carabiners were also helpful in the tent as well
- Recyclable shopping bags – In that same vain, having random bags to keep things organized whether they be for the things you want to keep on the bus or move in and out of the tent, I'm thankful Chantelle packed a few of these
- Inflatable LED lamp – A small thing but since we were camping, I liked being able to hang this at the top of the tent for light instead of relying on the headlamp all the time
- Skyroam – While there were a ton of dead pockets of cellular service in New Zealand, I loved the flexibility of the day passes with Skyroam. Chantelle and I would both have access to the internet when it was activated which allowed me to be productive at camp or on the bus
- Peak Design Tech Pouch – The organization was key especially when I needed access to my gear whether on the bus, in the car, or in the tent.
- NZ outlet adapters – This was the first time I picked up ones that had two inputs. This was really handy in situations where we were in a room or at a holiday park where there were limited outlets. 2 for 1 is a really helpful thing
What was completely useless
- GoPro chest mount – didn't use it at all
- GoPro timer – I lost it somewhere in the luggage partway through and it didn't matter because I never had time to use it as I often opted to do timelapses through my Olympus
- GoPro bike handle mount – It was too much work to set up and the Jaw Clamp was that much more versatile
- 3rd Mavic Pro drone battery – I only ever made one flight a day at most and so that third battery never got used
- Cigarette adapter car chargers – Ironically I never used these at all mainly because I was fairly confident that I could charge everything I needed to each night. Also, the Flying Kiwi bus had their own USB chargers under the seat so it made these less important
- KableKard – Never used it once
- 3rd USB to USB-C dongle – I only needed 2, I don't know why I brought 3
- Canmore Cave Tours water bottle – We ended up buying regular water bottles at the beginning of the trip and holding onto them
- Waterproof phone bag – This was actually handy for when we were kayaking but the opening and closing mechanism on this was terrible
- Winter gloves and polar buff – These extreme cold winter gear never saw any use because I could always layer up to keep warm and favoured using fingerless gloves since I often needed quick access to my phone
- One too many long johns – At most I really needed 1. 2 was nice to have but 3 was a little excessive
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I hope this was helpful as a visual guide to what you should pack for a trip to New Zealand. While I was prepping specifically for 3 weeks, I can see this working for a trip as short as a week to something as long as a month or more.
Of course, you can probably subtract out all the photography and videography gear to keep things your pack set even smaller. Ladies, this packing list should be similar – just swap out the clothes and feminine products.
This is what you can look forward to. Get psyched!
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So what about you? What are you thinking about packing for your trip to the land of Kiwi's? Do you have questions for me or want to bounce ideas with me? Just drop a line below or contact me.