I love nothing more than a good, old fashioned, pen-to-paper ‘what I’m packing list’ before a trip. I have been meticulously planning what to take to New Zealand for months – slowly buying essentials and filling up a designated ‘New Zealand bag’. But now, as the trip is fast-approaching (less than a week away, eek!), I need to consolidate this bag, and my list, into something which A) I can carry & B) Emirates and Contiki will actually allow onto their aeroplane and coach respectively. So, I thought I’d share with you what I’ll be taking and why – maybe it could be of help if you decide to take your own adventure to New Zealand.
Firstly, let’s start with the age-old debate between suitcase and backpack. I had intended to take a backpack with me and be a ‘proper traveler’, but after speaking to people and seeking advice on the internet, I have decided to take a suitcase instead. My reason for this is simple and comes directly from the advice of Contiki – I’m not going to be having to trek for miles to get to my accommodation. I will literally be dragging my suitcase onto the coach – where it will stay safely nestled whilst I explore all day – and then dragging it off the coach to put in a hotel/hostel room for the night. Also, unlike a backpack, if I want to quickly access something from my suitcase I won’t have to pull the whole thing apart in order to get to it (many a time has a frustrated traveler come to the awful realisation that the item they desperately need is in the bottom of their carefully-packed, tightly-tessellated, backpack). However, if you are planning on an extended trekking trip, or will be walking long distances to your accommodation – a backpack is by far the better choice over a suitcase.
I am, however, taking a small backpack as my hand luggage on the plane (and to use for the entirety of my trip because, sadly, a handbag is not practical). Which brings me to what I’m going to pack for my journey. I take off from Heathrow Airport at 8.15pm GMT on Saturday evening, and don’t land in Christchurch until 3.20pm, their time, on Monday afternoon – which is 2.20am Monday morning in England. This is a travel time of 30 hours all-in-all, with stops in Dubai, Bangkok and Sydney. I will be in the air for a total of 25 hours (help me). Other than the obvious passport, tickets, phone, lipbalm, money etc, the most important item I am packing is my Kindle. I don’t go anywhere without it and, no matter what your opinion is on electronic versus print books, you can’t deny that when traveling a Kindle is amazing. I will also be packing my Lonely Planet guidebook on New Zealand’s South Island – so that if I’m stuck for somewhere to eat or something to do I can always consult the book – as well as my shiny, brand new travel diary just waiting to be filled with my memories of the trip (starting with a long, running commentary of the plane journey). Further essentials I am packing are a neck pillow, flight socks and earplugs. I seriously want to be able to sleep on the plane and, as I could not afford to travel in first class, these items will hopefully ensure my journey is as comfortable as possible. Also, I am a cynic and will be taking spare underwear, a change of clothes and essential toiletries in my hand baggage just in case the worst happens and they lose my luggage. Finally, and seriously importantly, I will be packing my camera. My chosen camera for this trip is the Nikon Coolpix S9900 – it is a compact, digital camera, but has an awesome zoom on it (30x optical zoom). I don’t want to miss documenting any spectacular moment of this trip and I really believe investing in a good camera is the way forward.
So, now for clothes. It’s strange to think that I’ll soon be swapping coats, hats and boots for shorts, t-shirts and flip flops, and I have to admit I am rather excited. Yet, I can’t just exclusively pack for warm sunshine as New Zealand weather can be very changeable – with up to four seasons in one day. I will be packing shorts, t-shirts, vests, flip flops, bikini and a sunhat; but I am also going to be taking jeans, a couple of warm jumpers and a couple of fleeces. Yes, you read right – FLEECES. Despite not being the coolest item of clothing, I have been reliably informed that a fleece is perfect for travelling as they are lightweight, yet keep you warm. Also, I have invested in a good waterproof jacket and a sturdy pair of walking boots (which I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact I might have to wear the boots on the plane to save space). I am also taking walking trousers as, unlike jeans, they remain fairly comfortable even when wet. Contiki have advised to bring lots of socks and underwear, but I will also be bringing travel wash with me just in case I need to do some emergency hotel-sink washing of said smalls.
When packing toiletries I need to keep reminding myself that New Zealand WILL HAVE SHOPS. I always do the thing where, if I don’t pack toiletries and medicine for every single eventuality, I feel like I’m not prepared enough and that I won’t possibly have access to shops to buy anything extra I need. I have done exactly the same thing when buying toiletries for this trip. I have everything you could think of – full first aid kit, all kinds of pain killers, mini dry shampoo, mini moisturiser, (miniature everything in fact), wet wipes, anti-bacterial hand wash etc etc. I’m not going to list everything I have packed as this will take too long. However, there are 3 items I really wouldn’t recommend going without. Firstly – Suncream. The ozone layer over New Zealand is very thin – the instances of melonoma there are extremely high – therefore I’m packing factor 30 and factor 50 suncream as I have very fair skin. Even if you’re a seasoned sun worshipper, you’d be really stupid not to wear at least a factor 15 out there. Secondly, I’m packing something called ‘Bushman Insect Repellent’. My parents bought this for their trip to New Zealand back in March, and have passed it onto me. It’s not mosquitoes you really have to watch out for in New Zealand – it’s sand flies. Apparently they are little buggers and this insect repellent was recommended to my parents by a native New-Zealander and worked wonders. Finally, I’m packing blister plasters. I will be walking a long way most days and, even though I’m fairly confident in how comfy my walking boots are, I will have blister plasters on hand at all times.
Finally, a word about money. It’s something everyone wonders, whether they’re going on a short break or an extended trip, how much money should I take? I’m fortunate in that the British Pound is very strong against the New Zealand Dollar (currently there’s 2.33 NZD to every Pound), but New Zealand is not a cheap place to go and I was very aware of this when deciding how much money to take. Taking into account my accommodation, transport, breakfasts, some dinners and some excursions are already paid for, I am taking £1100 on a CashCard and $230 in cash (the easiest way to find a suitable cash card is on travel/money supermarket and comparing the different charges levied etc). STA advised me that £1000 would give me enough for 3 weeks, with change leftover, but I like to have that little bit extra because I really don’t want to be held back from doing anything I want to from lack of money.This is a once in a lifetime trip and I want to be able to do any excursion I want to do or try any experiences that take my fancy, so I have overcompensated slightly. But it’s obviously down to each individual person and their budget as to how much money you take with you!
So, there you have it – my packing tips for New Zealand in the summer. Now I just need to actually go and pack it all properly! If you think I’ve missed anything important out, then please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading – I hope you’re enjoying hearing about my preparations for the trip!