Travelling on a real adventure holiday can be the opportunity of a lifetime. Going ‘down under’ to New Zealand to experience the great outdoors has to be one of best experiences you could wish for.
It’s not just the mountains and the lakes. It is the jaw-dropping national parks and rugged coastline. It is all about wild rivers flowing through pristine bush. It is about the trails and the unspoiled beaches. You can explore it on foot or bike. You can camp or hire a campervan. A helicopter can whisk you to the top of a mountain, and you can ski down. You can whitewater raft down some incredible rivers.
From jet boats to kitesurfing to surfing and some of the best mountain bike trails in the world, New Zealand has it.
If you want real adventure, New Zealand is the place to get it. You will also want to make the most of every opportunity, so you need to be prepared.
Here’s a gear list to help you get to most out of your adventure. As New Zealand has so much variety in terms of climate and terrain, it will pay to make the right choices.
Camping is a Kiwi way of life. Many New Zealanders take off for the bush or the beach at the weekends and holidays. And little wonder, the climate here is made for it.
A trip to New Zealand might involve you staying in a number of places from hostels to hotels and even staying in ‘baches’ which are beach houses. One thing that will be indispensable however will be a basic tent. Many people hire small camper vans or even cars to get around the country, and a tent is the perfect companion.
You don’t want anything too complicated or large. A small, lightweight dome tent will be perfect. Being lightweight, they can be folded up easily. With an inbuilt frame, there’s no messing around with poles.
You simply flip it out and crawl inside. A two person size should be big enough. A separate entrance area will allow you to store food and cooking equipment. It will allow you to spread out from the van, and you’ll be able to carry it easily if you decide to head up into the hills.
A sleeping bag is essential. Whether you are underneath the stars or crashing on someone’s deck, and camping out in the wilds, a sleeping bag is your best companion. It can get chilly at night even in the summer and especially at high altitudes. Some of those DOC mountain huts are very remote, although they often have fires and a good supply of firewood.
Make sure your sleeping bag is warm enough to cope. Having said that, you’ll want one that is lightweight and compact. Invest in a good ground mat as well! There’s not much sleep to be had on the hard ground.
If you are travelling, versatility is the key. You don’t want to be carrying around lots of different pairs of shoes. A rugged shoe from Ridgemont Outfitters will be comfortable, waterproof and will protect your feet and ankles.
The terrain in New Zealand varies enormously. There are plenty of opportunities for mountain climbing, but you are most likely to be outdoors on trails that can be rugged. You need good sturdy footwear and trainers will probably not be enough.
Then again you’ll meet some hardy souls who wear nothing more than a pair of rubber jandals (flip flops) for just about everything. But unless you have been brought up like this, then save your jandals for the beach.
The trails are often crossed by wild rivers, so make sure that your footwear can cope with these conditions. Socks are essential items that often get overlooked. Look for a mix of manmade and natural fibres. This will give you a good blend of comfort, breathability and will be hard wearing.
A few t-shirts will be versatile and make a good base for any layers that you might need to build up if things get cool. Mostly the weather is on the warm and temperate side. A good fleece is worth its weight in gold.
It should be light and warm. These are indispensable. They are easy to carry when the sun is hot and warm. And nice and snug when you are deep in the bush, which can be surprisingly cool, or at night sitting around the campfire.
Many people survive here year round in shorts! Don’t be surprised to see some hardy old boys in nothing more, no matter what the weather. Their leather brown legs are testament to a life lived outdoors. You will need a couple of pairs of good board shorts. There are probably more opportunities to have fun while getting wet here than anywhere on earth. You will need long trousers too.
Leggings can be handy to wear underneath shorts. Jeans are fine, but they can take a long time to get dry. So a good pair of lightweight pants, which are rugged and even double up as shorts can be a sensible option. Once you’ve waded across a river waist deep, you’ll appreciate the need to be able to dry off quickly.
A good sturdy backpack will be indispensable. You want to be able to carry your belongings with you whether you are simply stashing it in a rental vehicle, or carrying it on your back. Good advice is to try out a good range of styles and sizes. Having separate compartments makes sense. You’ll want a pack that is easy to adjust. Make sure it sits well on your hips as this is where you will be carrying most of the weight. Try it out before you buy and ensure that you get the right backpack for your size and needs. It is well worth investing in quality, with good strong zips and security options.
Wetsuit – Rash Top
There will be plenty of opportunities to get into the water. New Zealand offers you the opportunity to surf, especially on the East Coast of the North Island. Raglan further down on the West Coast is the surf capital. Kite surfing is proving to be popular, along with kayaking and wild water rafting.
The sea might be warm enough to swim in the summer months. Anyone thinking of engaging in a lot of water sports should think about investing in a three-quarter lightweight wetsuit. A thermal top is a viable alternative. The sun is strong here, and if you spend a long time out on the water, you’ll need to have light, long sleeved protection.
You won’t see many Kiwi’s without their “sunnies” on. Sunglasses are a part of the national identity and with good reason. The sun shines bright strong and long up and down the county. Invest in a good pair of UV sunglasses and they will live on top on our head for your trip.
A hat is a must. Wide brimmed and light weight. It will keep the sun off the top of your head and help to keep you cool. Caps are worn everywhere, but they won’t protect your neck and face at the same time. A beanie is perfect for cool nights out anywhere
You won’t be in New Zealand for long without being introduced to their most infamous residents, sandflies. They can be irritating but are nowhere near as annoying as mosquitoes. Some places are worse than others.
Areas by water such as lakeshores can be busy with then. Some beaches seem to have plenty and others none at all. While they seem to bother some people, others don’t bat an eyelid, and it is something that you simply get used to. Having said that, they seem to be attracted to dark clothing!
A good natural bug balm is a must, and you will get used to applying it on exposed skin for a more peaceful life. A soothing balm mixed with tea tree oil is an effective deterrent. It can be a good idea to carry some spray with you especially if you are camping. Citronella candles are readily available and keep all bugs away.
Perhaps the best thing to take with you to New Zealand is your attitude and appetite for adventure. It will be a trip that will change you and your view of the world. Both Auckland and Wellington are world class cities with heaps of history, attractions and things to do and see.
Short flights, often little than an hour long will get you around from city to city. Visit Art Deco Napier, or hop over the South Island and sunshine capital, Nelson. From there you can even see across to Golden Bay and top of the South Island.
The South is an adventure playground, from the Marlborough Sounds to the Franz Josef Glacier. Queenstown is the ski party capital of the world. Plan your trip well and you could have months of adventure and incredible experiences ahead of you. Equipping yourself with the right gear will allow you to make the most of them.