I could hear him talking, but my mind kept going elsewhere. My eyelids felt heavy and locked shut like magnets. Then something about a ozone hole rang through my brain and jolted my eyelids back open. Craig was telling me about why I needed to wear sunscreen in New Zealand, but the only thing on my mind was sleep, not sun. And all I really heard was “Blah, blah ozone. Blah sunscreen blah”
No matter how hard you fight it, jetlag eventually takes over and you can fall asleep in the middle of a completely normal conversation, like this one. The next day Lindsey and I took the ferry to Devonport, and before I knew it I was sunburned. Suddenly the warnings Craig was trying to give my jet-lagged mind were coming back to me…a few minutes too late.
This was the first lesson I learned about important items I should have had with me when I came to New Zealand, but it wasn’t the last. Here’s the most important things you should include when planning and packing for a trip in New Zealand.
New Zealand Packing Essentials
Protect Yourself from the Rays & Bring Sun Protection
No doubt within the first few days of being in NZ someone will tell you the tale of the missing Ozone layer. It might sound like a tall tale, however it’s true. There is a hole in the ozone layer around New Zealand. The thickness of the ozone layer is significant because ozone absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, acting as a filter against sunburn and other damage.
Sure, you can buy sunscreen in New Zealand like I did; however, it will cost you. I had to spend $20 NZ for a small little bottle. So save some money and bring stuff from home, and bring lots of it! It should be a minimum of SPF30.
And don’t forget sunglasses and a good hat for sun protection!
Be Prepared for Pesky Bugs
Oh why do bugs love me so much?! There’s a lot of water in New Zealand; lakes, rivers, and oceans abound. And so do the bugs.
“New Zealand is the generous home to one of the nastiest, most incorrigible, maddeningly annoying bloodsucking insect pests that lives. Called sandflies in common practice and roughly resembling gnats, these vampires of the genus Austrosimulium live throughout the islands.” –via Smithsonian Magazine
At Lake Rotaroa the sandflies swarmed me as soon as I got out of the vehicle! And I also had a gaggle of mosquitos (or mozzies as they are called in New Zealand) wage an attack on me at dinner one night in Nelson.
There are a bunch of remedies out there for pesky bugs ranging from the toxic to the bizarre, but I normally just stick to a spray with a high percentage of DEET and wear the right clothes (see below!) If you want you can also try natural remedies, garlic, and some even say Marmite also works (I’m not sure if you are to rub it on your skin or eat it…both are pretty gross!).
Whatever your weapon of choice is, bring it from your home as bug spray is also very expensive to buy in New Zealand.
Weather Changes – Layer Up!
I’ve been to New Zealand in the heart of summer (Dec/Jan) and in the Spring (Oct/Nov) – and both were still equally chilly! Go ahead and look at a globe; New Zealand is pretty far south, so it’s never going to be super hot. Cold fronts move in quickly, you have to be prepared for sudden changes in weather – especially if you are doing outdoor adventure travel in New Zealand like me!
Learn more about New Zealand Weather
Pack layers, the temperature changes rapidly from hour to hour. Once the sun goes down, even in the summer, you’ll want to be prepared with some warmer clothes. I always have a tshirt or tank under-layer, a thermal pull-over, and a jacket with me at all times.
My Recommended Gear
Whatever you do, don’t get caught in the rain; pack rain gear! New Zealand is the type of country that you want to spend your time outside, and it’s also a country that gets quite a bit of rain. So make sure you are prepared – rain pants and jacket are really necessary items! Conditions vary from extremely wet on the West Coast of the South Island to almost semi-arid in Central Otago and subtropical in Northland.
Gear that Does it All!
Or you can tick all three of these things off by packing the right travel clothing! The Exoffico travel clothing line that I love has special Bugs Away clothing, Sun Guard Clothing with SPF 30+ in it already, and it great for warmth and layering! And bonus – they all dry super fast! Here are a few favorites of what included in our packing for New Zealand travels.
Therma ¼ Zip – I wore this to death…seriously I already have a hole in it and plenty of stains!
Therma V-Neck – nice for being a little dressy and an extra layer.
Zhana Reversible Legging – great for saving space in your suitcase – two leggings in one!
Cosima Jacket/Neck Pillow – I actually have the older version of this jacket but the Cosima is the latest version. Hands down my favorite piece of travel gear since I can also use it as a neck pillow.
Bugs Away Gear
Bugs Away Lumen Hoody
Bugs Away Lumen Long Sleeve
Bugs Away Damselfly Jacket
BA Sol Cool Jacket and BugsAway pant/Jogger – keeps those bugs away, lightweight, packs up small. Added bonus = sun protection. These 2 pieces are the latest in Exofficio’s 2017 line coming out soon and they were by far our favorite clothing we had in our suitcase on this trip!
Finally, Pack an Adventurous Spirit for New Zealand
Don’t forget to pack a positive attitude and use the word “YES!” a lot! New Zealand if full of adventures and experiences if you are open to trying new things.
Exofficio provided me some clothes to try out on this trip. However I’ve been an Exofficio wearer for a long time now and all of my opinions here are my own!