This is Part 3 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate road trip in New Zealand. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing, driving, budgeting – of planning an unforgettable road trip in New Zealand
Read Part 1 – The Ultimate New Zealand road trip itinerary (opens in new tab)
Read Part 2 – Where to stay on your road trip in New Zealand (opens in new tab)
Read Part 4- How much will that Road Trip in New Zealand cost (opens in new tab)
New Zealand’s barren panoramas afford an anonymity that is all sorts of perfect. You will get some stunning photographs, so make sure you pack clothes that do justice to the natural scenery of New Zealand. However be prepared to experience everything from balmy summer days on North Island to chilly days on South Island during your summer road trip in New Zealand. You will drive through rolling pastures, sunny lavender fields, glistening lakes and lagoons but also hike through glaciers and go star-gazing on chilly nights, so pack smartly 🙂
We tried to pack well for a road trip in New Zealand but despite that, we forgot a couple of important things – make sure you learn from our mistakes (errr always carry lip balm with SPF) and make sure you carry the items included in the list below:
Packing List for a summer road trip in New Zealand
- Sunscreen – It’s no secret, the sun’s rays are very harsh in Australia and New Zealand. Make sure you carry good sun protection (SPF 30-50) and reapply it frequently. Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.
- Lip Balm with SPF – This is an easily forgettable item and I learnt it the hard way (hello painful sunburnt lips!). Try to get your hands on a lip balm with SPF in your home country. If you can’t find it, then pick one up as soon as you land in New Zealand. They are at most supermarkets in New Zealand.
- Hat – New Zealand’s sun can get extremely harsh in summer. It’s best to pack a wide-brimmed hat, especially for outdoor activities including hikes and long walks.
- Picnic Blanket – There are so many opportunities to picnic in New Zealand, so make sure you pack a large picnic blanket or scarf for your road trip to New Zealand. Just stop at the supermarket or any local farmer’s market and pick some fruits, fresh preserves, and cheeses for your picnic. We love our picnics and try to picnic as much as we can if the weather/place is conducive. On most days, our car was stocked with loads of fruits (best fast food ever!), salad leaves, a bottle of wine, cheese, miscellaneous antipasto and a baguette or two 🙂
- Toiletries: Try to pack all the toiletries you might need in New Zealand or you could end up paying double or triple the price for a can of deodorant. New Zealand’s supermarkets are notoriously expensive.
- Winter gear and snow boots: Of course, this depends on what you have planned for your time in New Zealand. If you intend on going on a glacier hike or two in the South Island, make sure you pack thermals, jumpers, and warm outerwear. Check with your tour company beforehand and carry snow boots only if needed. Most tour companies rent snow boots to guests, so you don’t have to lug them halfway across the world.
- Waterproof jacket – I’ve raved about my armour aka my black down jacket in so many articles now, so I’ll spare you lengthy explanations. But I’ll say this: make sure you carry a warm, waterproof jacket even if you’re going to New Zealand at the peak of summer. The weather can turn quickly, especially in the South Island, and it’s best to have a good jacket handy.
- Miscellaneous woolies – In addition to this, throw in a beanie, warm socks, and a jumper even if the weather forecast reads 30°C. It takes just a short bout of rain for the weather to turn and you don’t want to be scurrying all over town looking for waterproof warm raincoats on your holiday do you?
- Don’t pack any food – They are tight security checks at the New Zealand border and almost all food items (fresh produce, preserves, meats, and dairy products) are banned. Don’t try to be cheeky and get them past security because there are high fines for offenders. Stock up on food once you get to New Zealand.
- Swimwear – Make sure you pack loads of swimwear for your roadtrip in New Zealand. From the beaches of Coromandel and the hot tubs of Queenstown to the thermal pools of Rotorua and the hot springs of Taupo, you’ll find yourself reaching for your swimsuit ever so often.
- 1 pair of good quality hiking/running shoes – This is a no-brainer. New Zealand has some of the prettiest hikes and walks in the world. Keep your hiking shoes in the car at all times: you never know when you might need to walk into a muddy, albeit enchanted, woodland or hike to the top of a hillock for a panoramic view of the city.
- Activewear – We spent most of our month in New Zealand in hiking gear. Make sure you pack your gym tights, sports bras, and tees for New Zealand’s hiking and walking trains.
- Camera – All those scenic lookouts need to be captured don’t they. There’s a surprise around every corner in New Zealand, so take your camera and plenty of memory cards. We’ve written about our photography essentials here.
- Aux cable – Don’t forget to pack an Aux Cable to plug in your ipod or phone in the car. You’re going to be spending copious amounts of time in the car, might as well have a soundtrack you enjoy right?! We always take our ipod, which houses tons of indie and ambient electronic music and old-school rock anthems, along on road trips. We listened to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie, Morcheeba, London Grammar, Bluetech, and DeadMau5 with a smattering of Frank Sinatra and Herbie Hancock classics while driving around in New Zealand 🙂
- Books – of course, this is only if you’re the dreamer err passenger. Vid LOVES driving, I love dreaming, so the arrangement kind of works out for us 🙂 I read quite a few books on this trip but ever since I was a wee child, I’ve been accused of going through books rather quickly. I read 2 very different travel narratives – Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar, a grumpy overview of travelling the world. I find Theroux’s humour and sarcasm rather endearing but I understand it isn’t for everyone. I also read Francis Mayes’ A Year in the World which romanticizes the act of travelling and dwells on the paradox of home for a frequent traveller. Everything in Mayes’ narratives comes with a firm smattering of gold dust which doesn’t quite work but I love the way she describes places, especially Sicily (Italy) and Seville (Spain). I also went through a collection of Neruda’s poetry and a collection of theoretical essays on French Feminism, but I won’t go into that for now.
Onto Travel Fashion. Both of us spent most of the month in active-wear as we went for a lot of hikes in New Zealand. The rest of the time was reserved for comfortable floral dresses and maxi dresses in earthy tones to pay homage to New Zealand’s spectacular scenery.
Sumptuous burnt sunset tones – rust, ochre, and terracotta, and burnt umber – are ideal for dreamy days spent gathering strawberries, driving through varied landscapes, and picnicking in fields full of flowers. I packed just three pairs of footwear – Nike sliders, black boots and trainers – for the month-long trip. Finally, a dash of creamy faux fur and charcoal lace to pull everything together. Here are a few photos for inspiration for your next road trip 🙂
Those are my outfits from New Zealand. Which one is your favourite? What do you guys pack on road trips? Leave us a comment below, both of us LOVE hearing from you 😀