The Ultimate New Zealand Packing List

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Everything you’ll need to make the most of your trip Down Under.

<p>Travel &amp; Leisure / David Hattan</p>

Travel & Leisure / David Hattan

Growing up in New Zealand, I spent a lot of time in the Great Outdoors – at beaches, lakes, mountains, and environments that were largely weather-dependent. It was idyllic, and now that I live in New York and have spent time on different continents, I appreciate how unique that lifestyle is. The seasons are the exact opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, so Christmas is a summer affair, and the middle of the year is all about skiing (or escaping altogether and going to Europe).

Geographically, the country is divided in two: the North Island and the South Island, and that’s a good way to think about structuring your itinerary, splitting your time between each. The most logical starting point is Auckland – the country’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city, with rugged beaches and islands surrounding the coast. From there, you can access most of the best destinations by car, before flying to Queenstown to experience the breathtaking alpine scenery and adventure activities it is renowned for. It all sounds quite intrepid, but New Zealand also has an incredible luxury scene, from legendary lodges to fine dining options and picturesque wineries.

Considering the scope of activities, your schedule is likely to be as diverse as the landscapes, so you’ll need to pack more than just outfits for hiking. James Cavanagh, Director of Sales for Robertson Lodges, advises to, “dress for Colorado, with a nod to SoCal.” And that wardrobe should include formal attire, swimwear, athleisure, and, of course, versatile, smart casual daywear. This New Zealand packing list rounds up everything you’ll need to make the most of your trip Down Under.

Packing Checklist for New Zealand

Consider this your essential packing guide for New Zealand, including our top selections for each item.


Daywear for women:

Daywear for men:

Eveningwear for women:

Eveningwear for men:


Gear and Accessories



T+L’s Top Picks and Tips

New Zealand weather can be unpredictable, so you’ll want to be equipped with clothing to suit – be sure to pack outfits for days that are rainy and warm, rainy and cold, and sunny and hot.

Luckily, New Zealand doesn’t have extreme temperature swings; it’s unlikely to get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. But as Sarah Handley, the General Manager of Tourism New Zealand for the Americas & Europe, notes, “you can experience four seasons in one day, so it pays to be prepared.” And even on balmy summer days, the temperatures can drop after sunset, especially in the South Island or outside of the city centers. As James Cavanagh advises, “evenings are cool, so layer up.”

Assuming you’re spending at least 10 days there, having a minimum of two to three outfits for each occasion is advised: formal looks for the evening, active looks for exploring, resort looks for the beach, and outfits that you would wear in any city (dresses, jeans, tops, sweaters, jackets – the essentials).  And if you can, save some room in your suitcase for shopping, as there are some brilliant local designers (be sure to check out Ruby, Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, and Zambesi).

Best Daywear for Women

Sandro Tessa Side Cut Dress

Best Dress

Everyone needs a versatile LBD (Little Black Dress) in their arsenal, and this Sandro dress is the perfect, wear-anywhere staple. It’s an elevated take on a classic shift, enhanced by a flared hem, cut-out waist, and ruffled sleeves. The recycled crepe fabric is breathable enough for walking around on hot summer days, and you can easily pair it with any type of shoe, from fresh white sneakers to strappy sandals. This dress can take you from a day of shopping to happy hour drinks, plus Kiwis (local New Zealanders) wear a lot of black and simple silhouettes, so you’ll fit right in.

Price at time of publish: $170

Current/Elliott The Stiletto Skinny Jean

Best Jeans

You could do with jeans for most destinations, but if you’re on tour in New Zealand and decide to walk up a mountain for some sightseeing after lunch, packing a pair with some stretch is advised. That’s where Current/Elliott’s Stiletto Jeans come in handy. They have a stretchy fabric that feels like you’re wearing leggings, with the structure and durability of classic denim. This model has a slight crop, too, so you don’t need to worry about them grazing the ground. Plus, the ankle-baring design is perfect for wearing in summer.

Price at time of publish: $158

Argent Ribbed Shell Top in Merino Wool

Best Top

High quality, versatile essentials are always in style, and Argent (from a former Tory Burch designer) is one of the best new brands for all your “foundational wardrobe” needs. This top is an elevated take on a classic tank, with flattering contoured lines and a luxurious merino wool fabric. It’s something that could live in your wardrobe forever, and given it won’t crease in your suitcase, it would be useful to pack for any trip.

Price at time of publish: $145

Related:The Ultimate Long-trip Packing List

Hunza G Square Neck Swimsuit

Best Swimwear

The North Island’s surf beaches are worth a day trip, and to make the most of it, you’ll need swimwear that will hold up in strong currents. Enter this sturdy and stylish one-piece from Hunza G. It has light bust support, a scooped back, and the brand’s trademarked, ultra-flattering Original Crinkle fabric. It’s available in 14 different colors, so there is something for everyone. And if you want something more for lounging by the pool or tanning, there are some great bikinis in the same signature fabric, such as the Gigi or the Jean.

Price at time of publish: $215

Alo Yoga Airbrush Real Bra Tank & 5" High-Waist Biker Short Set

Best Activewear

Beloved athleisure brand Alo Yoga is renowned for its functional coordinating sets, and this bra-tank biker-short duo is ideal for the hikes you’re bound to be going on. It’s made from Alo’s signature Airbrush fabric, designed to lift and sculpt, and it contains a moisture-wicking technology perfect for intense activity.

Price at time of publish: $138

Rains Waterproof Rain Jacket

Best Waterproof Parka for Men and Women

A jacket that is waterproof, windproof, and lightweight is exactly what you need for New Zealand’s unpredictable weather. This unisex Rains jacket encompasses all these features, with breathable ventilation to stay cool and dry while it’s hot and wet. It has an elegant, draped fit, with slanting flap pockets and dome snap fastenings. Our favorite color is the pastel blue sky shade, which is sure to add some brightness to even the cloudiest of conditions.

Price at time of publish: $110

Best Daywear for Men

Onia Linen Polo Shirt

Best Casual Shirt

A classic polo is always a useful item to have on hand, and this lightweight linen style is perfect for warm destinations. It features an open collar and has side slits around the hem, providing a relaxed fit. We love navy, but it’s also available in white, a summery light blue, and salmon pink.

Price at time of publish: $60

J.Crew 7” Tech Short

Best Shorts

These will take you from the golf course to a leisurely lunch in the upscale Viaduct Harbour. Made from a water-resistant nylon blend, these stretchy yet structured shorts are comfortable, timeless, and easily pair with anything. They also have built-in UPF 50+ sun protection, which is invaluable for New Zealand’s strong sun rays.

Price at time of publish: $80

Amazon Essentials 7” Swim Trunks in Aqua Blue

Best Swimwear for Men

When it comes to swimwear, you can’t go wrong with a basic block color in a classic silhouette, and these swim trunks from Amazon Essentials look a lot more expensive than they are. They have a drawstring tie around the waist, a 7-inch inseam, and are made from a quick-drying polyester fabric. Plus, they’re machine washable.

Price at time of publish: $18

GapFit Recycled Active T-Shirt and Active Shorts

Best Activewear

This simple set from Gap is made from fabric that’s designed to dry fast, with moisture-wicking and anti-odor properties, and its ultra-stretchy fabric is great for any active excursions. The T-shirt is available in four neutral colors, and there are two options for the shorts: black and navy.

Price at time of publish: Top: $31, Shorts: $50

Best Eveningwear for Women

En Saison Constantia Floral Chiffon Dress

Best Evening Dress

This feminine floral dress will look beautiful amid New Zealand’s lush nature-filled backdrops. It’s versatile enough to wear for days out that turn into nights, and it’s not at all restrictive, with a floaty fit-and-flare silhouette, an elasticized bodice, and adjustable thin tie strap shoulders.

Price at time of publish: $135

Related:25 Carry-on Essentials T&#43;L Editors Can’t Travel Without in 2023

Zara Flowy Blazer

Best Evening Jacket

Aptly named the “Flowy Blazer”, this jacket is perfect for draping over a dress. It has the structure of a classic suit jacket, with posture-enhancing shoulders, a lapel collar, and a feminine A-line shape leading down to the hips. Keep it on hand for any cool New Zealand evenings spent wining and dining under the stars.

Price at time of publish: $70

DKNY Appliqued Cotton Blend Jersey Pajama Set

Best Sleepwear

This fleece-lined sweater-and-short set is like having pajamas, athleisure, and loungewear all in one. You could easily wear it to duck out for the morning coffee run to kick start your day or for a beach walk – just add sneakers or slides. It’s a mid-weight, stretchy fabric with raw hems, an elasticated drawstring waist, and pockets at the hips.

Price at time of publish: $69

Best Eveningwear for Men

Untuckit Wrinkle-free Las Cases White Shirt

Best Shirt

A crisp white shirt is always a good thing to pack, and this is a great option for two reasons: first, it’s treated to resist creases, so you won’t need to iron it on arrival, and second, it looks good untucked, as is the central mission of the innovators behind Untuckit. The shorter shirt length is especially convenient in New Zealand where dinner jackets aren’t usually required, and men typically wear their shirts out without a belt (unless it’s a more formal event or the dress code states otherwise).

Price at time of publish: $99

Uniqlo Slim-Fit Chino Pants

Best Pants

These are among the best affordable chinos on the market, which is what you can expect from the haven of basics that is Uniqlo. They are made from a cotton, spandex, and polyester blend that provides enough stretch to move around comfortably. Plus, they have the same aesthetic details you would find with more expensive options from the likes of Theory or any luxury brand.

Price at time of publish: $50

Amazon Essentials Men’s Cotton Modal Pajama Set

Best Sleepwear

Super soft, lightweight, stylish, and budget-friendly – consider these your new travel PJ go-tos. They have a drawstring closure and are made from a stretchy fabric made from cotton, modal, and elastane. Another convenient feature is the hem length, which falls around the ankle, so you won’t need to worry about tripping over them if you wake in the night. The heather gray looks fresh and luxurious (and could almost pass for Eberjey).

Price at time of publish: $29

As you might have guessed, utilitarian footwear is essential for New Zealand. But that’s not to say you won’t need anything formal – you’ll just need to be more selective with the styles you choose. For instance, instead of going for a stiletto that will sink into the grass (or get destroyed when walking on cobblestone paths), opt for a block heel or a pair of wedges. The same goes for any low-heeled shoes for wearing during the day; a thick, sturdy base will serve you well.

When considering the range of shoes to pack, look at your outfits to ensure you have something to complete each look. A bikini and a coverup? Remember to pack slide sandals or flip flops (locally referred to as "jandals"). Chinos and a linen shirt? Just add loafers. And, of course, a good pair of walking shoes is key. When possible, try to pack versatile shoes that can be worn on a variety of occasions to save room in your suitcase.

New Balance Women's 574 Core Sneaker

Best Sneakers for Men and Women

Retro sneakers are having a moment, and New Balance’s 574 is one of the most popular styles on the market. They’re ideal for a trip to New Zealand, given they’re lightweight, and have good durability and grip for encountering any slippery terrain. Plus, there are options for the entire family, as they’re available in women’s, men’s, and children’s sizes, with extended width options offered as well.

Price at time of publish: $85

M.Gemi The Lustro 70mm

Best Women’s Shoes for Evening

In New Zealand, opting for a wide heel is the way to go, and M.Gemi’s best-selling Lustro is as glamorous as it is practical. It has an almond-shaped toe that doesn’t cinch your feet, a padded insole, and a solid block heel that will have you striding across grass or gravel with confidence. As the website notes, you can “leave the back-up flats at home.”

Price at time of publish: $328

Reformation Assunta Strappy Block Heel Mule

Best Versatile Women’s Day Shoes

These mules are a summer footwear hero, blending practicality and timeless elegance. With a secure, three-strap design, you don’t feel like you could step out of them while you’re walking. And they were definitely made to walk in, with a plush EVA sock padding on the sole and an ultra-wearable 35 millimeter block heel. In keeping with Reformation’s spirit of sustainability, they’re crafted from “almond” leather.

Price at time of publish: $198

TKEES Riley Matte Leather Flip Flops

Best Women’s Slides

What could be more Kiwi than a pair of flip-flops (A.K.A. jandals)? This sleek version from Tkees is a step up from your standard souvenir shop pair, or Havaianas that are a little too casual to go to a café in. They’re 100 percent leather and have a slip-resistant sole, slim crisscross straps, and a slight elevation that’s flattering on the ankle.

Price at time of publish: $55

Zara Crossed Chunky Sandals

Best Men's Slides

These classic black sandals would be just as suitable for a stroll along the beach as they would be for a day of vineyard hopping in Matakana. The thick crossover design adds a low-key formality to any smart casual look, plus they’re comfortable to wear, made from polyurethane with a bouncy thermoplastic rubber sole.

Price at time of publish: $50

Wolf and Shepherd Monaco Loafer

Best Loafers

We cannot recommend these sophisticated penny loafers enough. Made from a water-repellent Italian suede, they are engineered for all-day comfort and feel more like wearing very structured socks rather than rigid formal footwear. They’re easy to pack, too, as the top folds flat to the sole. And there are no unnecessary embellishments that will clash with your outfit – this is understated (and affordable) luxury at its best.

Price at time of publish: $195

Adidas Originals Gazelle Leather Sneakers

Best Versatile Men’s Shoes

Fresh white sneakers go with anything and will never date, and in a saturated market, these Gazelle’s from Adidas stand out for their classic style and lightweight construction. Originally designed as a performance shoe, they’re one of the most coveted designs in popular culture today (along with the similar Samba).

Price at time of publish: $80

In New Zealand, it’s all about shielding yourself from the elements, be it sun, rain, or wind. Don’t sleep on gear like sunscreen, sunglasses, and an umbrella, as you’re sure to use each of these items at least once during the course of your trip. Below are the essential accessories you’ll need to complete your New Zealand wardrobe.

Sun Buddies Black Courtney Sunglasses

Best Women's Sunglasses

Oval-shaped frames are the biggest eyewear trend right now, and these have the same look of popular styles from Celine and Bottega Veneta for a fraction of the price. Some of the classic ‘90s-inspired shapes can be quite narrow (like Le Specs’ Outta Love), but these are a decent width and provide enough coverage. They have 100 percent UV protection, integrated nose pads, and a nondescript double dot embellishment on the arms.

Price at time of publish: $81

Warby Parker Haskell Sunglasses

Best Men’s Sunglasses

These stylish Warby Parker sunglasses are flattering on most face shapes, and beyond the aesthetic highlights – including rounded lenses, slim arms, and a keyhole bridge – they are scratch resistant and block 100 percent of UV rays.

Price at time of publish: $95

Madewell Packable Straw Fedora Hat

Best Men's Hat

Traveling with a hat box is impractical, so having something you can easily fold and pack in your suitcase is key, like this classic fedora from Madewell. It’s made from woven straw with a contrasting black grosgrain band and an interior sweatband. The sun is strong in New Zealand, so having something with more coverage than a cap will definitely be useful.

Price at time of publish: $40

DISSH Milan Natural Straw Wide Brim Hat

Best Women's Hat

If you’re doing New Zealand right, an al fresco long lunch at a charming vineyard will feature on your itinerary. And if the weather is in your favor, you’ll need a good hat to shield from the South Pacific sun. This 14-centimeter wide-brim hat from Dissh would be perfect to keep on hand, especially if you’re wearing a sleeveless dress and spending the day outdoors. It’s a simple silhouette that comes in a natural straw color and a classic black.

Price at time of publish: $90

Von Holzhausen Micro Bag

Best Handbag

Sustainable leather brand Von Holzhausen has many travel-friendly bags (like large shoppers and totes to carry everything), but the minimal Micro would be especially useful to take on walks where you need nothing more than the essentials. The stylish vegan micro bag can hold your phone, keys, and cards, and is a third of the weight of regular leather.

Price at time of publish: $95

Mejuri Block Small Hoops

Best Jewrlery

Flashy jewelry would look out of place in New Zealand – it’s more about understated luxury. Keep it low-key and opt for simple accessories to complete your look, like these stylish block hoop earrings from Mejuri. They’re available in sterling silver and gold vermeil and can be matched with some of the brand’s classic chain necklaces and bracelets.

Price at time of publish: $58

Bombas Compression Socks

Best Compression Socks

Your ankles will thank you for wearing these on the long flight (which is a whopping 17 hours direct from New York). Bombas is a go-to brand for high quality socks, so it’s no wonder it offers some of the most effective and comfortable compression socks on the market. They have more cushioning than other options and are tighter, with a 20 to 30 mmHg compression level. They're unisex and available in small, medium, and large, and in white and charcoal colorways.

Price at time of publish: $28

Conair Handheld Travel Garment Steamer

Best Portable Travel Steamer

No matter how efficient your packing skills are, your clothes could do with a refresh after the long flight, and Conair’s foldable travel steamer can do just that. It heats up in 35 seconds, and is small but powerful, with 1200 watts that produce high velocity steam. It has dual voltage for worldwide use and is lightweight and compact.

Price at time of publish: $60

Samsonite Windguard Auto Open/Close Umbrella

Best Umbrella

Named Travel+Leisure’s best overall umbrella, this is built to withstand even the wildest weather conditions. It’s water-resistant, wind-guarded, and can be easily opened at the press of a button. It closes down to just 12 inches, so you won’t need to allocate too much suitcase space.

Price at time of publish: $35

Rejuvenate after the long flight with these hydrating, travel-sized essentials, and remember to lather on the SPF. As Sarah Handley notes, “the sun is much stronger than elsewhere and in warmer months you can get burnt quickly without sunscreen or other sun protection.”

Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50

Best Sunscreen

As the name suggests, this sunscreen is designed for days of play, so it’s ideal for going to the beach and active outdoor activities, which is what New Zealand summer is all about. It’s hydrating, fast-absorbing, and protects from UVA, UVB, and IRA rays. Plus, it contains no nasty chemicals, so it’s safe for the whole family.

Price at time of publish: $32

Pureology Mini Hydrating + Color Protecting Hair Kit

Best Travel-sized Hair Kit

Even at the best hotels, the bath products can often be overly fragranced and drying, so it always pays to arrive with everything you’ll need. This mini hair kit is a great option, containing Pureology’s ultra-hydrating shampoo and conditioner, along with a nourishing leave-in spray and dry shampoo to refresh on-the-go. It’s small enough to fit in your carry-on suitcase, too, as the largest product is only 50 milliliters.

Price at time of publish: $30

Barney’s New York Beauty Travel Lover Hydrogel Mask

Best Face Mask

Unless you want to arrive looking like you’ve been on a plane for the better part of a day, you’ll need some serious skin hydration, and these hydrogel masks from Barney’s New York Beauty are designed specifically to revive skin after long flights. They have oatmeal extract and a honey mesh layer that enables the mask to adhere to the skin without tearing, and there are five individually packed sheet masks, so you’ll have enough for the trip there and back, and any time you need a boost while on the ground.

Price at time of publish: $75

Because most people visit New Zealand for a minimum of 10 days, it’s best to be prepared with enough luggage for different weather conditions and varying levels of formality.

With that in mind, you’ll want luggage with maximum storage space, ideally in a durable, hard-case shell for the multi-flight journey. Chances are you’ll be flying with Air New Zealand, so be sure to check the weight allowance and distribute everything accordingly.

Away Travel The Carry-On

Best Carry-on Suitcase

This rolling carry-on suitcase can conveniently stow away in the overhead bins of domestic Air New Zealand flights, which can be much smaller than airlines in the U.S. The exterior measurements are aligned with the allowance for most domestic carriers (21.7 x 13.8 x 9 inches), and the durable polycarbonate shell weighs only 7.1 pounds, so you can maximize your packing potential. It has 360-degree spinner wheels, which proves invaluable for racing through airports.

Price at time of publish: $295

Paravel Fold-up Travel Bag

Best Duffel

This compact duffel bag is as stylish as it is sustainable, made from 22 upcycled plastic bottles. That’s the difference with luggage from the carbon neutral brand, Paravel; everything is designed in the most eco-friendly way possible, with supreme functionality and sophistication. This bag is conveniently water-resistant and can be personalized with your initials and floral embroidery.

Price at time of publish: $75

Rimowa Essential Lite Check-in L

Best Checked Suitcase

Airlines tend to be very strict with their weight allowances, so this is a great option given it’s lightweight and still large enough to carry 10 days’ worth of belongings. It’s the lightest suitcase German brand Rimowa has ever developed – 30 percent lighter than its regular range at 8.2 pounds. It has TSA-approved locks, multidirectional wheels, a mesh divider, and a T-bar top handle. It is indeed an investment, but it comes with a lifetime warranty, so this could be the last suitcase you’ll ever need to buy.

Price at time of publish: $875

What You Don't Want to Miss in New Zealand

  • A day trip to Waiheke Island (Auckland’s version of the Hamptons) to explore the scenic vineyards.

  • A helicopter tour around the Southern Alps for an up-close look at the incredible, postcard-worthy scenery.

  • Experience the country’s most iconic luxury lodges such as Matakauri Lodge, Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, and Huka Lodge, which are located in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural environments and can only be accessed by guests.

  • Explore the bustling shopping and dining scene in downtown Auckland. Here you’ll find some of the buzziest restaurants in the city.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much cash should I bring to New Zealand?

Major credit cards are accepted in New Zealand, including Visa and Mastercard, however American Express is not accepted in many places (something to keep in mind if you use Apple Pay and have Amex as your primary card). Most people use debit cards or credit cards, but if you would prefer to use cash, figure out what you’ll need to pay for each day; presumably hotels, rental cars, and excursions will have been prepaid, so if you’re just keeping cash on hand as a backup, allocate around $100 per day in different denominations in case you encounter any card-free vendors.

What should I wear during the day in New Zealand?

It all depends on the season, the location, and the activity. If you are heading to Auckland, dress as you would in any city (i.e. London or Sydney), ideally with versatile outfits to allow for some spontaneity; jeans, a shirt, and sneakers would be a solid option, as would a simple dress and sandals in warmer weather. If you’re going to the South Island to ski during the winter, dress for Aspen. It’s not a formal place in general during the day (you could get away with athleisure if you’re simply exploring), but if you’re touring the luxury lodges or going to any high-end restaurants, a certain standard of polish is required.

What should I not bring to New Zealand?

Unprocessed food or anything that could be considered a biohazard – even any mud on your hiking shoes – you’ll need to clean everything down thoroughly before you pack. If you’re unsure about a specific item, reference the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry guidelines here.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure contributors are shopping, fashion, and lifestyle experts who draw on personal experience and market recommendations to curate the best products for shoppers. This article was written by Amy Louise Bailey, a New Zealander who grew up in Auckland and has spent time in all corners of the country. She also interviewed Tourism New Zealand to obtain their insights, along with local travel industry insiders, including James Cavanagh from Robertson Lodges, and various hospitality professionals in different regions.

Related:The Ultimate Safari Packing List

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