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Camping is one of the best ways to see the gorgeous country of New Zealand, but packing for camping isn’t easy. Keep reading to learn what to pack for a summer camping trip in New Zealand so you’re prepared to hit the road!
What to Pack for a New Zealand Camping Trip in Summer
Written By: Marijs Vrancken
There are few landscapes as spectacularly different than New Zealand’s, from the mountains of the Southern Alps, the spectacular waterfalls of Milford Sound, the party life of Queenstown, the bustling capital of Auckland, to the rich wildlife of the shores.
It’s all at your fingertips once you step foot in this amazing country. One can easily travel around New Zealand for months. I definitely recommend taking your time to see this country! If you’re heading there, keep reading to learn what to pack for a summer camping trip in New Zealand.
Camping in New Zealand
When traveling to New Zealand, camping is truly the best way to see the country for several reasons. It’s the cheapest way, the most flexible way, and you’ll get to see the most amazing starry skies. Whether you travel with a camper van, a small car and a tent, or a people mover in which you can sleep, they’re all great options.
Camping might be the best way to see the country, but it’s not the easiest. There are a couple of things to consider. The better prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it.
Of course it’s easy to camp out when you have the best conditions, like sunny days and cool nights. It gets a little bit more tricky when the conditions aren’t perfect. When you’re camping, so much depends on the weather. However, when you’re properly prepared, you won’t give the weather a chance to ruin your trip.
New Zealand Weather
New Zealand’s weather isn’t predictable. It likes to switch from burning hot sun to heavy rain, and will probably also be windy. You never know what to expect when looking up at the sky in the morning!
Be prepared for all weather conditions and you won’t regret it! Don’t forget that once the sun goes down (in often spectacular manner), temperatures can drop very quickly.
Packing lightly becomes slightly more difficult when traveling to New Zealand, especially if you’re camping. However, don’t let that stop you from experiencing this amazing way to see the country! With some planning and packing prep, you’ll be 100% ready for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Read this guide to learn how to pack light on every trip!
What to Pack for a New Zealand Camping Trip: Daytime Outfits
If you’re lucky, New Zealand can provide you with the most amazing summer. You’ll burn through your UV protection like it never existed. Then 10 minutes later it might be raining with heavy winds!
Therefore, your daytime pack should be stocked with anything from good sunscreen (remember the hole in the ozone layer) to a scarf and a rain jacket. Sounds strange, I know, but trust me on this one!
Something I should also tell you about are the sandflies. If you haven’t met them yet, don’t worry, they’ll introduce themselves pretty fast. As opposed to mosquitoes, sandflies can be around during the day. Especially if you’re camping out on the west coast.
Protection against these tiny flies includes long clothing, as they’re usually not strong enough to go through clothes. Use insect repellent. They can be pretty pesky, so don’t be surprised when you’re fleeing into the tent!
What’s the best insect repellent? Read this post!
Sunny days are the best! The skies are blue, you can actually see Mount Cook, and you’ll have the best time. But remember, it can switch at any time. Especially if you’re doing a hike, you cannot guarantee the sun will be out supporting you the whole way.
The perfect outfit for a sunny day in New Zealand is a pair of shorts combined with a light top and some espadrilles. If you’re going for a proper hike, ditch the espadrilles and take some decent footwear. Hiking boots are recommended, although you can get pretty far with a decent pair of sneakers.
What are the best shoes for walking, hiking and trekking? Read this!
Don’t forget about putting on plenty of sunscreen, taking your sunglasses, and probably also a hat. A travel accessory I swear by is a bandana. It can wipe off sweat, provide sun cover, and looks cool.
To counter the (often cold) wind, wear a light jacket. I was very happy to have my light denim jacket everywhere with me.
Oh no, it’s raining? Don’t worry, it usually doesn’t last too long in New Zealand. Make sure that if you go venture away from your car that you also take your summer clothes. You never know when the sun will come out of hiding!
Read these tips on what to wear on a rainy day!
Even though you’ll be packing your day pack every day with some rainy and sunny clothes, a quick outfit change will make a dramatic difference to your comfort level.
Let’s start with the shoes. A good pair of running shoes with plenty of grip or a pair of hiking boots is all you’ll be wearing on rainy days. Waterproof hiking boots are more comfortable than a flimsy pair of runners. When it comes to clothing, protect yourself from the elements!
Pick a comfortable pair of long trousers. I tend to go for active wear as they can sometimes double as pajama bottoms.
A pair of jeans is also a must. Combine your long active wear or jeans with your summery top and start layering.
Find out why I love these layering clothes for travel!
A sweater with a zipper and a hood is an awesome idea. You can take it on and off easily and put the hood on when it’s windy. For an extra safety measure, a light rain coat can go on top. You’re going to want to have a hood on this one as well.
I’m going to assume you’ll even be wearing that light denim jacket underneath when it gets really chilly with wind and rain. A scarf might seem like a weird accessory to take during summer, but you’ll likely wear it regularly.
Take a look at the most popular rain jackets for women!
What to Pack for a New Zealand Camping Trip: Evening Outfits
Once the sun goes down, temperatures can drop below 50°F / 10°C or even colder when heading up into the mountains.
When you’re dressing for camping in New Zealand, you’re dressing for cold and comfort, even in summer. Just like in any colder country, layering is going to be your best friend. Packing bulky clothing is not easy and therefore we recommend bringing thin layers that will create a lot of warmth.
Think thermal underwear, a fleece jacket, and a good scarf. Those long layers are also really good at protecting against the sandflies (remember them?). Around sunset they become very active, something you’ll notice soon enough.
Since this post is focusing on camping gear, I’m not going to delve into other night time outfits you might want to wear in the cities.
Read this to discover our top brands for the best thermal underwear for women!
Providing you won’t be too cold to change your outfit before going to bed, a well-prepared sleep is a good sleep! Start with the bottom and work your way up. Underwear is key; once you lie still in a tent, you start to feel really cold and thermals will prevent this from happening.
A long-sleeved thermal top, a long pair of thermal trousers, and some thermal socks are the perfect combination. On warm nights, you might be able to sleep in just this.
Speaking from experience, you’re probably going to end up wearing more – much more. Keeping your rainy day sweater close by is a good idea. The hoodie will keep your ears warm, especially if you wrap your scarf around it. Often a second sweater is a good idea, too.
If you’re not cold when going to bed in the tent, lay the extra layers next to your mat so you can put them on easily in the middle of the night if needed. You might even want to consider wearing your jeans over your thermals if you’re really cold.
For a full packing guide, read how to pack for cold weather like a boss!
Now you’re all packed for daytime activities and for those cold nights in the tent. Last but not least: don’t forget to pack a warm enough sleeping bag. It must be able to handle temperatures lower than 41°F / 5°C.
Have a great time in this stunning country!
What do you think women should pack for a New Zealand camping trip in summer? Please share in the comments below!
For more packing lists for this region, please read:
- Backpacking New Zealand Packing List
- Road Trip Australia Travel Tips: Don’t Forget to Bring these Handy Items on Your Next Adventure
- What to Wear in Australia: Sydney in the Summer
- What to Wear when Backpacking Australia
Suggested travel resources:
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Author Bio: Marijs left the fashion industry to travel the world two years ago. Leaving her shoes behind was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. For her, travel is all about seeing incredible nature and wildlife. The biggest bonus is meeting amazing people, telling stories, and capturing moments on her blog Rooftop Antics. Thirty countries later, Marijs is now based in Australia, working remotely and traveling the rest of New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.