Packing List for a New Zealand Road Trip

packing list

In addition to offering valuable insights into the car buying process in New Zealand, our dedicated team at Travel Cars NZ is committed to ensuring that your overall experience in this enchanting country is nothing short of extraordinary.

To enhance your journey, we have curated a comprehensive and practical packing list to help you make the most of your time exploring the stunning landscapes and diverse adventures that New Zealand has to offer. Take a closer look at our carefully crafted recommendations:

1. Plane tickets

Nowadays, it is rare to have printed tickets instead of e-tickets. We recommend printing out your e-tickets to present at the counter when you travel, and also, for peace of mind, triple-check those departure and arrival times in those moments of panic about the departure time the day you are due to fly out.

plane tickets

2. Insurance

Take your travel insurance policy and leave a copy with someone at home. Having this on your email is also handy, as it can be easily accessed anywhere.

Print out a copy of your car insurance policy, pop it in your glove box, and keep it in your email. It is also handy to have the claims department number and your policy number in your mobile phone contacts.

🚙 If you plan to buy a car in New Zealand, we have created a post with more information about this type of insurance. You can check it out here: Car Insurance in New Zealand

travel insurance

3. Driver’s license and International driving permit

You will need a current driver’s license when driving in New Zealand. If your license needs to be in English, we recommend getting an International driving permit organized before you arrive here. This should provide a translation into English, so check this before you arrange one.

4. Cameras

With smartphones having unique quality cameras built into them these days, many travelers are investing in a phone that will act as a device for photos, videos, maps for directions, email, and Skype. As well as the ability to download apps and search for local information about the town, cities or general areas being traveled.

A good digital camera will take photos and videos. It could also offer the ability to take underwater pictures for those of you who plan to enjoy the country’s beach, lake, and river swimming opportunities.

phone camera

5. Laptops & Tablets

Unless you plan to be typing a lot, many travelers these days find a small notebook or tablet excellent for their light weight and compactness. It is the kind of item that can easily be carried in a handbag or day pack, and for many, it will double as a device to take photos or videos.

digital gadgets

6. Adaptors & Power cords

If you travel beyond New Zealand to other countries, investing in an adaptor that you can use in multiple countries could be helpful.

Adaptors & Power cords

7. Passport & Money

Keep your passport safe by always carrying it with you (we do not recommend leaving it in your car when you are not there). A money belt can be convenient for keeping it securely close to you.

Most travelers will carry a credit card and cash. Keep in mind if you are on a working holiday here, you will need to open a bank account, and with that, you will be issued a cash flow or EFTPOS card that allows you to make payments quickly and easily.

If your credit card gets lost, stolen, or swallowed up by an ATM, keep your bank’s phone number in a handy place. (maybe email it to yourself and save it in your phone contacts) So that you can quickly cancel it and order a new one if necessary.

💳 For transferring money in a fast and cheap way, we recommend Wise. You can open an account and make your first transfer for FREE by registering through our referral link: Open a Wise Account 

wise app

8. Music

Most travelers these days would only be with their iPod or MP3 player, which can be enjoyed while driving in New Zealand, sitting on a bus, or walking the streets of a new town or city you are exploring. Consider investing in a portable speaker to enjoy your music with better quality sound.

portable speaker

9. Alarm clock

Every phone these days will have an inbuilt alarm, but if you are a traveler with regular ‘deadlines’ to get out of bed, you may want to invest in another alarm to double up on them.

10. Torch

You will regularly use a torch if you are camping, sharing a dorm room in a backpacker, looking for something in your car at 10 pm, or walking to the long drop toilet if you are staying in a hut on a hiking adventure in New Zealand.

travel torch

11. First aid kit

This is great to prepare before you arrive in New Zealand when familiar with the creams, lotions, and potions offered in your home country.

We recommend that your first aid kit include any prescription medicine you take, tweezers, scissors, insect repellent, cream for mosquito and other bug bites, painkillers such as paracetamol or aspirin, car or motion sickness pills, sunburn cream, and an array of plasters and bandages.

First aid kit

12. Sunglasses & Prescription glasses

In the bright sunshine of a New Zealand summer, sunglasses are an essential item. Suppose you are investing in prescription sunglasses for your trip. In that case, we recommend paying extra money for polarized lenses, which provide excellent clarity when driving and looking at the water.

It is worthwhile carrying a prescription for your glasses so that you can quickly and easily arrange any replacement glasses you might need if you break or lose them. It is also worth having this prescription scanned and emailed to you so you can easily access it or email it to an optometrist.


13. Toiletries

Amid the excitement of exploring this captivating country, it’s crucial to consider the practical aspects of personal care and grooming. From oral hygiene to cosmetics and sun protection, strategic packing can enhance your overall experience. This guide delves into the essentials that will keep you feeling fresh, confident, and prepared throughout your stay in New Zealand.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: If you are particularly in love with your brand of toothbrush and toothpaste, bring enough for the length of your stay here.
  • Cosmetics: Remember if you drive around New Zealand by car, hot car temperatures can lead to melted lipstick! We recommend investing in a cosmetics bag that will keep your products cool and protected over bumps and transporting them from plane to backpackers to car and back again.
  • Sunscreen: You may have read about the harsh sun experienced in New Zealand. New Zealand has some of the highest ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels worldwide. Ensure your sunscreen has not expired, and know your SPF and what that means regarding reapplication.
  • Razor/Shaving Cream: You might want to avoid having this in your bag if you are on holiday. But if you are on a working holiday and expect to be attending a job interview or two, this could be a handy item to have in one hand.
  • Keeping clean: Have you ever come across a smelly backpacker? Avoid being one by investing in soap and deodorant and regularly washing your clothes (carry detergent) and even your backpack, hats or caps, and even your shoes. Use good old Google or YouTube for instructions about washing some items (like backpacks) you might avoid because you are concerned about damaging them.


14. Clothing

Let’s delve into the strategic packing that will make your stay in New Zealand both comfortable and unforgettable:

  • Swimwear: Many of our swimming pools and hot thermal pools will be harsh on swimwear fabric, so keep that in mind when packing any expensive swimwear. You might like to invest in a couple of pairs (we call them togs here).
  • Sunhat: A must-have to protect you from the intense sun in New Zealand.
  • Ski or Snowboard Gear: Many travelers are horrified at our ‘gear for the snow’ cost. If you plan to hit the slopes regularly over the winter months, we recommend packing your ski jacket, goggles, and pants and bringing your boots and board.
  • Footwear: Bring your hiking boots if you plan on hitting the tracks. Bring sneakers or walking shoes for less intense hikes. Sandals, thongs, sandals, or flip-flops can be handy for communal showers in backpackers and campgrounds. Also, put a bright pair of shoes in for a night out on the town, job interviews, or to dress up to not feel like a backpacker for a while.
  • Nightwear: If you think you will be in dorm-style accommodation, consider what would be comfortable to sleep in in a shared accommodation environment.
  • Work clothes: If you are coming to New Zealand on a working holiday visa, consider the type of work you plan on doing and pack clothes accordingly. Hospitality workers are usually required to wear black skirts or pants and a white shirt. Office work will need bright, formal garments. If you plan on doing fruit picking or laboring work, shorts, t-shirts, and sunhats will be used along with work boots that sometimes need a steel cap. If you own these already, it could be worth bringing them over.

travel clothing

15. Recipe book

A way of curbing homesickness could be to make your favorite meals from home. Write out a few favorite recipes and carry them on a hard copy or by email for easy access.

There might be a favorite recipe book from home you could carry, which could also come in handy if you meet some New Zealanders and want to provide them with a taste of your favorite dishes from home.

16. Day pack & Waterproof bags

A good day pack should be big enough to carry a jacket, camera, documents, a small medical kit, snacks, and a water bottle. When choosing one to bring, consider how comfortable it will be to wear on a three-hour walk, how easy it will be to wash, and you might like multiple pockets to keep items separate from each other.

Waterproof bags are also likely to be put to use after a swim, for clothes that need cleaning, or for those grubby shoes or boots.

waterproof pack

17. Suitcase or backpacks

A large backpack will be handy for travel that will involve walking up and down steps in a backpacker or hostel. If you plan multi-day hikes, they will also be used.

A suitcase could be helpful for anyone planning on being in one place for longer lengths of time. Or for those of you who like to know where everything is, a suitcase could be more organized than a backpack.

backpacker pack


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