Search the Site

Written by Savi, 33 Comments

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:

Gorgeous panoramas in New Zealand


Packing List for a summer road trip in New Zealand


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 🙂
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 🙂
  15. 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 🙂


New Zealand Road Trip Packing
Packing for your road trip in New Zealand? Let’s go!


Packing for new zealand coromandel
Off-shoulder tops and breezy bottoms are perfect for long days on the road 🙂


New Zealand road trip packing
Take comfortable footwear for walks in magical woodlands 🙂


New Zealand Road Trip Packing
Milford Sound: Make sure you pack a waterproof and warm jacket for chilly days


New Zealand road trip packing
We spent most of the month in active wear because we went on so many gorgeous hikes like this one!


New Zealand road trip packing down jacket
A warm waterproof jacket is a road trip essenial!


New Zealand travel fashion hiking
Don’t forget to pack hiking clothes for your road trip in New Zealand


New Zealand road trip travel fashion distressed denim jeans
Distressed jeans and an oversized shirt – perfect for active days 🙂


New Zealand road trip packing
A lavender farm near Mt. Cook National Park: slouchy swing dresses are perfect for long days on the road


New Zealand Road trip travel fashion girl in lavender farm
Perfect reading spot?


New Zealand road trip travel fashion
A slouchy swing dress and a black trilby, perfect for long days on the road


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary
New Zealand’s glistening lakes *sigh*


Earthy tones
Sumptuous burnt sunset tones for dreamy days – yep those are floating clouds 🙂


Two kids on the run :)
Two kids on the run 🙂


New Zealand road trip travel fashion
Earthy tones are perfect for New Zealand’s dreamy landscapes


New Zealand South Island Travel Fashion
The South Island can get quite chilly, so make sure you pack some woollies


New Zealand packing for a road trip
An indulgent faux fur coat in Queenstown


The landscapes of New Zealand are awe-inspiring, to say the least!


Packing for Nw Zealand
Charcoal lace


Packing for New Zealand black maxi travel fashion
A black crop top and a maxi skirt at Arthur’s Pass National Park


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 😀

33 thoughts on “What to pack for a summer roadtrip in New Zealand

    1. Thanks Ramya, you’re very generous. :ong-term travellers have no option but to be low maintenance 😉

    1. Thank you – hearing from you always puts a big smile on my face. We thought of you so many times in New Zealand Leah – you’re right, it’s stunning!!

  1. Great post as always! Savi, you carry each look with so much grace and poise!!! One QQ for you, was it windy out there? I see you clutching the hat in every hat-pic :P, or was it for the pose? You look crazy awesome though.

    1. Hehe- I just noticed it when you commented – seems like I chose all the ‘clutching hat’ photos.Damn! You’re right – I almost lost my hat to the wind in NZ at the beginning of the trip, so I got quite fiercely protective about it 😉 PS Thanks, so glad you enjoyed going through the photos

  2. the fur coat photo is perfectly gorgeous !!! and yes ,, not to forget vid’s jump !!! great post guys !!!!

  3. Wow! This is like a treat to eyes. One question- how do you click your own couple pictures? They are so picture perfect. Some tips please. 🙂

    1. Thanks a ton Swati. We usually use a tripod (Vid plays around with camera settings a lot, so that helps get good ones!). Sometimes a friends/tour guides click photos for us too 🙂

  4. I am so in love with your posts. I wish you visited NZ a few weeks before and wrote this article. It would have been a biggggg help. Well, next trip I’ll plan where you guys have visits before 🙂 🙂
    You both make everything look so effortless and never look tired. I wonder how. These posts and pictures make my day brighter and make me excited to plan another trip.

    1. Hey Taniya

      Thanks a million. Vid and I put together these posts just to encourage others to explore the world, so reading your comment put a big smile on my face 🙂 Curious – Since you were in NZ recently, would you add anything to this list? Hope you had a great time in NZ

  5. Travelogue, photography, fashion – best of everything ! loved going through the posts, as much information packed in as there is eye-candy – both landscapes and you two… 🙂
    Was NZ really as people-free as it seems from these pictures?

  6. Wow Savi loved this post. New Zealand is my another favorite place. I’m a great admirer of it’s scenic beauty. It’sooo GORGEOUS!!
    All the pics are absolutely flawlessly beautiful. You look great in all the outfits.

  7. looking at ur post always confuse me what to admire the most…the nature beauty or the beauty of u both!!! just amazing, loving pics and bfully captured destinations!!!Gr8 going 🙂

  8. I’m reading your NZ blogs over and over again and I must say, they’re so beautifully written. I’m leaving to NZ for my honeymoon in two days and your blog has been the most useful (nowhere else could I find fashion tips!)

    Thank you so much!

  9. Hi,

    Quick question on packing for a trip like this as we will be doing something similar next year. Did you find it a hassle having to unpack/pack at each stop? Any tips on that? I was thinking of taking an empty bag that we could use for toiletries and quick access stuff and then repack clothes as and when. Also did you end up washing your clothes when you stopped?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey Alex – We took enough clothes for our trips but you can easily do laundry at most AirBnBs. It is a hassle to pack/unpack but because of the vast distances, this is the only option 🙂

  10. Hey is it okay to skip bay of islands if we do coromondel ? Doing both looks unlikely.
    Also why did you skip hobbiton and Waitomo caves? Just curious

    1. Hey yes the scenery will look markedly different from these photos. If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip for you, then would suggest going during summer months 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *