1. Bring the right shoes for walking
The most important thing is your footwear. If you’re doing one of our famous tracks like the Milford or Routeburn, you’ll need a pair of strong sturdy hiking boots. But for shorter walks we recommend a pair of hiking shoes like the ones in the picture. You’ll need more than running shoes or town shoes, so we recommend a pair of purpose built, sturdy hiking shoes. These can be worn on many days of your trip, if you’re walking or not and you’ll probably end up wearing these shoes more than any others.
If you’re buying new shoes for your trip then we definitely recommend breaking them in before you travel. Nothing is worse than having to deal with sore feet or blisters on holiday, so make some time to go for a few walks around your neighbourhood before you leave home. It’s a great opportunity to test all your gear and will get you excited about your trip too!
2. A good breathable waterproof jacket
Even if you’re coming to New Zealand in the middle of our summer, you need to prepare for any kind of weather. A good jacket is essential for anyone visiting New Zealand, regardless of the time of year and whatever activities you’re planning.
Make sure it’s fully waterproof with Gore-Tex or similar. You also want to make sure it’s breathable so you don’t overheat. Most modern jackets these days are both fully waterproof and breathable so you don’t have to worry too much unless your jacket is really old. In that case you should splash out on a new one for the trip. Just ask the staff in your local outdoor store what they recommend, make sure you tell them you’re going to New Zealand, they’ll all be super jealous!
3. Breathable, quick dry clothing you can layer up and down with
This is really important and if you do this right then you will enjoy all your walking in New Zealand so much more. When you’re outside walking you will get hot, then cold, then hot etc, the weather will also change so you need to be prepared.
So here’s how you do it. Wear one breathable quick dry base layer next to your skin. We love Merino wool best for this. A T-shirt style is probably best for the base layer as you want to be able to put layers over the top. Then your mid layer, this can be either a micro-fleece type or a long sleeved shirt type, it’s up to you but the important thing here again is to make sure it’s quick dry fabric and breathable. Then on top of that goes your jacket, a fully waterproof (gore-tex or similar) jacket is best. A good jacket can double as both wind and rain protection so it cuts down on the number of garments you need to carry (less is always more for walking!).
If you feel the cold you may also want to bring another layer or two, a sleeveless vest, long sleeved T-shirt type or even long johns, but make sure they all roll up nice and small. Also essential are hats (we recommend on for sun protection and one for the cold) and gloves. You may not take all of these with you on every walk but you will definitely want to organize this gear before you leave for New Zealand.
MoaTrek Kiwi Guide Tip for Walking in New Zealand
The most important thing to remember is to make sure your clothing is made of breathable quick dry fabric. When you’re outside walking you will warm up and sweat, so it’s really important that all of your clothes are the breathable moisture wicking type. If they’re not the sweat stays next to your skin and you get cold on a cold day or overheat on a hot day. This means no T-shirts, no jeans and no bulky sweaters.
Another advantage of quick dry clothing is that you can get it dry overnight when you do laundry.
We absolutely positively recommend Merino wool garments. They are so toasty and warm when it’s cold but breath and are cool when it’s hot. You may have some Merino already but if there’s one souvenir from New Zealand anyone will love it’s a Kiwi Merino garment. Get one or two for yourself too.
4. What kind of backpack is best for short walks?
This is also really important for your whole trip, not just your walking so it’s worth taking the time to get one that’s right for you. Luckily you have a lot of choice out there on the market. Here are the important things to consider when choosing a backpack for your walking trip to New Zealand.
Size - In terms of litres or gallons, a 30 - 40 litre backpack is the right size for day walking. This will double as your daypack on travel days and your carry on luggage on flights.
Pockets - Having several external pockets is always handy and most day packs on the market these days seem to offer this. Having a small pocket at the top for things like sunscreen and lip balm, a drink holder on the side and even a separate document compartment are all handy features.
Fit for Purpose - There are day packs and day packs and if you’re coming on a walking holiday to New Zealand then we recommend a sturdy well made pack from one of the leading manufacturers as opposed to a fashion style backpack.
A good way of telling whether a backpack is good for travel and walking is by looking at the straps, if they are sturdy and keep the pack nice and stable when you try it on that’s a good sign. Loose thin straps and a backpack that flops around all the time when you walk may be better for that trip to Paris for fashion week as opposed to your walking holiday in New Zealand.
The material should be strong thick fabric with waterproofing, not thin fabric.
A note about day packs and waterproofing
Many day packs on the market will be treated with some waterproofing surface but it’s important to remember that any daypack with zips will not be completely waterproof, even if there are covers over the zips. In heavy rain the water can seep through the zips.
One solution to this is drybags, which are available in all shapes and sizes from most outdoor outfitters. Put the gear you want to keep dry in a drybag, then inside your day pack and you’re good to go.
5. Other handy gear to bring on my New Zealand walking holiday
As well as the essentials mentioned above, there are a few other accessories and items of gear that you should bring along as well. Many of these things can be picked up once you’re here in New Zealand if you don’t have them.
- A water bottle. Reduce waste and bring your own reusable water bottle. We like the metal types that keep water cooler for longer. Water from the taps (faucets) is good to drink and you can fill up from your accommodation or even better, a mountain stream on your hike!
- Spare bootlaces
- Insect repellent, sunscreen and hand sanitizer
- Walking poles, the collapsable type you can fit into your suitcase.
- Extra memory cards for your camera
- Swimsuit and quick dry towel
Read this article for our full packing list and tips on what to bring for your New Zealand trip here.