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What Clothes to Pack to Travel in New Zealand


How to dress to backpack around New Zealand.

Well, we don’t want to tell anyone how they should dress but… some clothes are just more practical than others. Especially in New Zealand where the weather changes so much that it’s said to have “4 seasons in a day”. Plus, you will find yourself in a lot of different situations while on a working holiday in New Zealand, such as taking long journeys, having a job interview, and doing some crazy activities.

See more about the changing weather here: Seasons and Climate in New Zealand.

What to pack for backpacking in New Zealand

This guide is a mix of what to wear in certain situations around New Zealand and what people will make you wear (see “For doing crazy activities”). Here’s what to wear…

  • for a long plane, bus or car journey in New Zealand.
  • for a job interview.
  • for a hiking trip.
  • far a city tour.
  • for doing crazy activities.
  • for sleeping in.
Nomads Hostels


Comfort is key! Wearing some loose fitting clothes, while squished on a bus or an economy seat, might be more comfortable than in skinny jeans and a corset… Try sweatpants, shorts or leggings with a cosy t-shirt and hoody.


For a job interview

First impressions go a long way in job interviews. Even when handing out CVs or first presenting yourself to a potential employer, you don’t want to come across as a scruff.

Think about what the employees wear in that specific company. Take hospitality, for example, workers usually wear smart black and white clothes. Or if you are working as a receptionist or high-end retail assistant, try the classic pencil skirt/black trousers and shirt combo.

Reflect the colours of the work uniform, so your potential employer can imagine you working for them – get all psychological on them.

If in doubt, your outfit should be somewhere between smart casual and smart.


For hiking

Thermals! For the love of God, wear thermals. You don’t feel the weather change more than when you are on a hiking trip all day or several days on a Great Walk. One minute it can be sunshine, when the next it can be pouring down with rain and you’re freezing your ass off. Thermals as base layers are designed to keep you toasty when cold yet allow you to cool off when warm. Remember a waterproof coat and an extra warm layer and light layer. Avoid cotton – it does nothing for you.

On your bottom half, try light-weight pants that are fast drying. Or shorts with exercise leggings so you can whip off the leggings if it gets too hot. Wear some sturdy walking sneakers or boots.


For city tours

The weather can change just as often in a city than on the mountains. The wind in Wellington blows all kinds of elements through the city, and Auckland has a lot of spontaneous rainfall. If you are out all day in the city, take an extra layer with you, such as a raincoat or a hoody. The dog in the picture knows how it’s done.


For doing crazy activities

With great activities come great outfits.

  • Going dolphin swimming, surfing, white water rafting, black water rafting? Remember your togs (swimwear). Wetsuits and snorkels will be provided if necessary.
  • In glacier hiking you will be provided with crampons and a thick coat.
  • In ice bars you will wear the sexiest thing you have ever worn to a bar: a long thick coat and gloves.
  • You can hire salopettes, ski jacket, gloves, helmet, boots, board/skis and poles when hitting the slopes. Bring your own base layers, scarf, underpants…

For a sleep outfit

Well, we wouldn’t really call something you sleep in an “outfit” unless you where one of those matching PJs with the collar and buttons like a freakin’ suit! When staying in a hostel and sharing a room, it is always good etiquette to sleep in some clothes, such as PJs, vest, some sweatpants, a onesie, etc.

day pack Checklist

Backpackers take many day trips during their time in New Zealand. See our standard daypack checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Umbrella and/or waterproof mac
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • ID / Passport if buying alcohol
  • Money and/or bank card
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