There's no doubt a walking holiday in New Zealand be an unforgettable adventure, but what exactly should you pack? As well as obvious items like hiking boots and socks, it's worth noting that Kiwis are generally a chilled-out bunch and dress quite casually. When you're not donning your hiking boots and sunhat, smart casual attire is totally fine and you'll likely see many locals sporting their jandals (thongs, if you're an Aussie) in restaurants and bars. Here are the essentials to pack for a walking holiday in New Zealand.
Clothing & footwear
1. Hiking boots
A comfy pair of hiking boots goes without saying. We recommend bringing a pair of closed-toe, waterproof boots as they’ll give your feet more cushioning and protect your ankles against scratches and pesky insect bites. If you're doing easy to moderate walks, you could also bring a pair of hiking sandals which are great for keeping your feet cool in the summer.
2. Hiking socks
When you’re doing a walking holiday it’s well worth getting some proper hiking socks as they’re designed to help your feet breathe throughout the day and prevent blisters.
3. Warm fleece and a beanie
A warm fleece and a beanie are essential if you’re travelling in the cooler months, but you might still need one in the summer if you're hiking at higher elevations as it can still feel chilly in the early mornings and evenings when the sun goes down.
4. Waterproof jacket
Locals joke about there being four seasons in a day in New Zealand, but there's definitely some truth in it! Summer is the driest season but there's always the possibility of a shower, so it's best to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket no matter when you visit. If you're travelling in the cooler months, make sure you bring a waterproof and windproof jacket as strong winds can make it feel much colder.
As well as hiking boots, you’ll also need a pair of sandals or jandals for when you’re relaxing at your hotel, chilling on the beach or heading out for dinner.
6. One or two smart casual outfits
Smart casual clothing isn't really needed on a walking trip, but you might want to bring one or two outfits in case you go for dinner somewhere a little fancier, or you want to get a little dressed up to spend the afternoon wine tasting at a cellar door.
7. Breathable layers
Breathable layers are key for walking and hiking. You’ll need a few base layers (think vests, t-shirts, leggings, shorts) as well as some outer layers (shirts, hiking pants, joggers, etc.) if the temperatures will be cooler. Quick-drying fabric is best in the summer as you're bound to get a bit sweaty on a hike.
You're spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous rivers or beaches to swim in New Zealand, so you don't want to forget your swimmers. There's nothing more refreshing than plunging yourself into a natural swimming hole in the middle of a forest, or diving into the bright blue sea at a hidden bay.
1. Walking poles
Walking poles are useful for longer or more strenuous hikes as they help support your knees and steady your balance when walking downhill or on uneven ground.
2. Quick-dry towel
If you go for a mid or post-hike swim it’s handy to have a quick-dry towel to pat yourself down. They dry really fast and roll up into a tiny ball so it won't weigh your day bag down.
3. Sun protective gear
The UV is strong in New Zealand, even in winter, so make sure you bring a wide-brimmed sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses (polarized, ideally). We recommend a water-resistant sunscreen with high SPF.
4. Reusable water bottle
Staying hydrated is really important, especially when you’re walking for hours every day. A one-liter water bottle or a Camelbak is ideal as most trails in New Zealand have water stations where you can refill along the way. Plus, single-use plastic bottles contribute to a huge environmental problem.
5. Day bag
If you're doing a walking tour with Intrepid, your main luggage will be transported for you between each hotel or guest house, but you’ll still need a small day bag to carry your essentials. You don't want anything too bulky, but it should be big enough to carry your purse, water bottle, camera, snacks and anything else you may need.
There's no question you're going to see some incredible scenery on your trip. Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of New Zealand as you'll get to visit many places that are only accessible on foot. Make sure your camera is fully charged before your trip and don't forget to bring a charger.
Our New Zealand walking tours & holidays