Backpacking New Zealand: What to Pack

I’m off again to bring take the one ring to Mordor, to not let Balrog pass, and to find Nemo somewhere in the deep blue sea. For about a month I’ll be taking one backpacking down both islands of New Zealand going from hostel to hostel. Eventually I’ll find my way to Christchurch on South Island and fly over to Sydney, Australia and from there make my way to Cairns to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Most of my time will be spent exploring and photographing New Zealand.

NZ_Map
An estimate of my route through New Zealand

I’ve been wanting to explore and photograph this country for sometime now. For those that don’t go watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then come back and tell me that you don’t want to visit Middle Earth. I should mention that I’m a fast traveler. Meaning that once the airplane hits the tarmac I’m going to want to run out and explore as soon as possible. I need to be light and efficient –meaning no checking in bags, while being sure that prepared for oncoming changes in weather and landscapes. I also tend to work while on the travel, so it’s also imperative that my gear is protected and the right power supply.

What to Pack for New Zealand

Overtime I gotten pretty good with squeezing everything I need into one backpack. Granted I only bring along a few days of clothes, since for the most part I plan on doing laundry at wherever I’m staying. Additionally since most airlines let you bring two carry on items, if you can manage to fit everything into one backpack it frees up the option of carrying one more thing on the way back home.

 

What’s in My Backpack

Important Documents

  1. Passport – Be sure that it’s at least valid for 6 months and that you have all the proper Visas. Americans will need a Visa to visit Australia, which you can conveniently apply online for.
  2. Driver’s License 
  3. Credit Cards – Go for ones that give points for traveling and have no international fees.
  4. Cash
  5. Notebook/Journal + Pen

Luggage

  1. Backpack – I’m using a Osprey Farpoint 55 Backpack which is essentially one 40L backpack and one 1.5L daypack. They can be carried together and fit in the overhead compartment of most airplanes.
  2. Water Proof – After exploring the world outside of Southern California I’ve discovered that everywhere else has this mythical source of water called rain. As much as I love and miss see the rain I’d prefer that it wouldn’t drench of all my things. For my daypack I’m bringing a small Rain Cover and Waterproof Bag for my camera in case it rains when I’m out.
  3. Organizing Units – Ebags Packing Cubes and Grid-It Cable Organizer are an OCD’s lifesaver when it comes to keeping things tidy while on the go.
  4. Lock – In the event that I decided to leave my main backpack at a hostel I’m using a  Cable Lock to discourage others from opening up my pack. Sometimes hostels will offer free lockers to store your things –but most likely you’ll still have to bring your lock.

Footwear

  1. Socks (4x) – I’m bringing four pairs of my favorite Darn Tough Merino Socks. These are comfy, knitted to withstand the outdoors, and antimicrobial –so they won’t smell!
  2. Shoes – For day trips I’ll be rocking my trusty pair of Brooks Cascadia 10 Trailrunning Shoes (these are the same shoes that brought me up Half Dome) and for chilling I’ll have a pair of flip-flops.
  3. Gaiters – After double-checking weather reports it looks like hiking through the rain on South Island is in my near future. For precaution I’m bringing  Outdoor Research Hiking Gaiters to keep water and rocks out of my shoes.

Clothes

**EDIT: After uploading my packing video I double-checked the weather on South Island and looks like I’m in for rain! I followed by adjusting my clothes to accommodate this change.

  1. Top Base Layers (4x) – Nearly all my top are sweat and moisture wicking! I absolutely detest the feeling of cotton shirts clinging to your body –yuck!
  2. Top Bottoms Layers (4x) – Like my tops my bottoms are also sweat and moisture wicking!
  3. Sleeping Clothes – Yes, a light set of pajamas are a must. I prefer not to sleep in dirty clothes.
  4. Underwear – I’m packing 3 sports bras and 4 pairs of antimicrobial underwear by ExOfficio.
  5. Swimwear – Bringing a bikini so I can swim with the fishes!
  6. Warming Layers – Layering is the key to staying warm while on travel. I’m traveling in the southern hemisphere’s late spring and the coldest it will get looks like 40°F/4.5°C in the evening. Not too bad! But also not the most comfortable. In case I’m freezing I’ll have my packable Thermoball down jacket by The North FaceEverlane Merino Wool Beanie (aka my all time favorite slouchy beanie,) Running Gloves, and a scarf.  Mens version of the Thermoball is also available.
  7. Rain Protection – Good thing I checked the weather because I’m due for 3 days of rain to keep myself dry I have Outdoor Research Gore-Tex Rainpants and Marmot Precip Raincoat. Both of these have kept me dry and windproof on previous backpacking trips. With them I’ll be able to explore New Zealand’s beautiful scenery even if it dumps water on me. Mens versions are also available: Outdoor Research Rainpants | Marmot Precip.
  8. Sun Protection – A snapback hat (that actually doubles as a GoPro mount) and sunglasses are also a must. I’m taking a pair of polarized sunglasses by Zeal. I picked up this pair during my last half marathon run. They’re plant-based, incredibly light weight, and won’t slide off my face.

Sleeping

  1. Let Me Sleep! – Ear Plugs and an eye mask, I just want to sleep.
  2. I Want to Be Clean! – When jumping from hostel to hostel you never quite know when the sheets were last changed or what went down on that mattress/cot/bunk before you. For that I snuggle up inside a  Cocoon Sleeping Bag Liner before jumping under the covers.

 

Toiletries

  1. Face – Cleansers, lotions, creams, Toner, etc. all in tiny travel sized bottles.
  2. Makeup – Eyeliner, a mineral foundation, eyeshadow, and my go to eyebrow powder by Anastasia
  3. Hair – Hair ties, Shampoo, Conditioner, and Moroccan Argan Oil that are all stored in travel tubes.
  4. Teeth – Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss, and my retainers.
  5. Travel Towel – When I first started traveling by myself I was surprised that finding something soft and clean to dry yourself with or to wipe away sweat and grime can be hard to find on the road. I carry around a Microfiber Travel Towel nowadays because it’s significantly less bulky that a normal towel and dries quickly. Also some hostels will charge a fee to borrow towels from them. Bringing your towel could same some money.
  6. Sun Protection – Chap stick and sunscreen!
  7. First Aid Kit – You never know! I punctured my knee on a lava rock once while crawling through a lava tube. I didn’t have a bandage. Crawling out sucked.
  8. Misc. Personal Hygiene – Deodorant, tweezers, and nail clippers.

Electronics

  1. Camera  – Sony A7r II  + Sony 28mm F/2 Lens + Sony 90mm F/2.8 Macro Lens + Memory Cards
  2. How I Wear My Camera – Peak Design Slide Strap, hands down this is the best camera strap I’ve used so far –and generally I hate camera straps. Peak Design did a lot of things right with this strap. It’s versatile, strong, and connects to a tripod.
  3. How I Power My Camera –  Extra batteries + Charger (Wasabi)
  4. How I Tripod My Camera – Instead of bringing along a full-sized tripod, I used the world as my tripod in combination with a Joby Gorrillapod. Especially in New Zealand’s landscape I’m sure I’m bound to find a random rock or tree I could set the camera up on. 
  5. How I GoPro – GoPro HERO 4 Black Edition + Blackout Housing (for underwater) + Frame (for vlogging) + a lot of extra batteries + Charger (Smatree.)
  6. How I Mount My GoPro
    • Instead of a chest mount I used a Peak Design Action Clip to stick the GoPro on to my backpack straps.
    • Instead of a headstrap I placed a Quick Clip on the back of my snapback hat. When I’m wearing the hat backwards the footage is decently stable as far as POV goes. I rarely place it on the brim of the hat because that areas tends to shake a lot.
    • For buttery smooth footage I’ll use Feiyu Tech G4 Gimbal (full review.)
    • For scuba diving and off shore swimming I use a Floating Handle so that my GoPro will float right back to the surface if I somehow let go it.
    • For everything else I’ve found the JOBY GPod Mini Magnetic Stand (full review) to be the most adaptable.
  7. Power – USB External Battery Charger (Anker), International Travel Adaptor Charger, Car Inverter
  8. Workstation – I tend to work while on the road. For that here’s my setup for a portable office: Old School 2012 13” Macbook Pro (still kicking!) ,Wacom Intuos Small Pen Tablet2TB Seagate External HarddriveHeadphones, and Kindle Paperwhite.
  9. On My Wrist – I’ve gotten into the habit of tracking my sleep with the Jawbone UP 24 and my running with the TomTom Running Watch.
  10. Lighting – Headlamp

 

Misc

  1. Tools – Gerber MultitoolEmergency Hiking WhistleCarabiners
  2. Navigation – Compass, offline downloadable maps, in addition to physical maps.
  3. Water Storage – Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle and Osprey Hydration Pack

 

 


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