The TEAN team didn’t become experts on travel overnight. We’ve all had our share of packing mishaps but the mark of a real expert is to not make the same mistake twice – especially when going on a long trip. Here are some tips for packing when studying abroad in New Zealand.

New Zealand Packing Tips

  • Clothing and shoes tend to be expensive in New Zealand so try to buy things like hiking boots in the U.S. before you leave.
  • If you plan to do a lot of hiking while you’re in New Zealand, you may want to consider bringing a small hiking pack as your carry-on. This way, you don’t have to pack it in your suitcase and you’ll have it ready for any weekend trips or day hikes.
  • The weather changes frequently in New Zealand and you can often be caught out in the rain or wind without expecting it. We recommend bringing a waterproof jacket along with other clothing that dries quickly, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in the outdoors. The more compact the jacket, the better.
  • If you’re planning to bring your hiking boots, make sure you give them a good scrub down before you leave! New Zealand customs takes their bio security very seriously, as the island’s biodiversity is very sensitive. This also goes for bringing any snacks and food – you have to be careful about what you are bringing in.
“These boots helped me surpass many great obstacles and the abundance of bridges I’ve crossed in New Zealand. They guided me to unimaginable places.” | TEAN Alum Denise Dentino, College of Charleston who studied abroad in Dunedin
  • Many universities have rental options near by or on campus for tramping/hiking gear, so there’s no need to bring big tents or large overnight packs from home. Plan to bring your staple items that you can’t live without and reach out to your TEAN Program Manager with questions about your specific university.
  • Pack a comfortable pair of waterproof shoes that you can use if you’re hiking in wet areas, such as when exploring around waterfalls. These are normally also lightweight and good for summertime hikes.
  • Bring clothes you can mix and match as well as layer. You’ll be able to create more outfits with the same amount of clothing if you can mix and match basic pieces. Plus, you’ll want to layer your clothes so you’re ready for getting all four seasons in one day – something you’ll likely experience throughout New Zealand.
“My backpacking pack was without a doubt the most valuable piece of luggage I brought with me to New Zealand (here I am using it on the track up to Mueller Hut). I took it along with me on almost every trip I took while abroad — from weekend trips to a mid-semester break trip up to the North Island, and even to Australia for a week! As someone who loves the outdoors, leaving my pack at home wasn’t an option — I highly recommend investing in a backpacking pack!” | Photo by TEAN Alum Ally Cohen, University of Michigan who studied abroad in Dunedin

General Study Abroad Packing Tips

  • Make a list…and stick to it! Think about the things you’ll be doing regularly during your semester abroad. If you think you’ll be hiking every weekend, use a backpack/hiking pack as your carry-on. Don’t bring things you think you’ll only wear once or twice; they’ll just take up space and you’ll regret bringing them.
  • Pack everything you think you’ll need then take half of it out. We know it’s hard to do but promise you won’t regret it. It will also help when you want to bring souvenirs back as you’ll have more room in your luggage.
  • Ditch the heavy toiletries. You can easily buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash once you get to New Zealand. Simply bring some travel-sized toiletries to tide you over until you’re moved in to your university accommodation and get settled. (You can also refill these small bottles for when you travel around the country!)
  • To maximize space, use packing cubes and store smaller items into larger ones, like placing your socks into shoes.
  • If you’re planning on bringing bulky items like hiking boots or a heavier coat or jacket, think about tying your boots on to your carry-on backpack or wear your jacket while traveling to try and save space in your suitcase.
“I had the full sized checked suitcase, a carry on suitcase, and a backpack as my personal item. I had more than enough stuff, and I was underweight on my checked bag too.” | Photo by TEAN Alum Colleen Andrews, Westfield State University who studied abroad in Christchurch

Carry-On Packing Tips

  • Like we said, we suggest using a backpack or small hiking pack as your carry-on. Make sure whatever bag you decide to bring as your carry-on is within the New Zealand domestic travel airline regulations. Checked bags, much like the U.S., are expensive to check while traveling.
  • Include a day or two worth of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on just in case your luggage gets temporarily lost or your flight gets delayed overnight.
  • Also pack a toothbrush, or at least mouthwash, and deodorant. Flights are super long and it’s a good way to refresh before you get off the plane.
  • Pack a small microfiber towel to wash your face on the plane. It’ll also be handy to have for hiking as it’s lightweight and easy to keep in your pack.
  • Pack a book or download plenty of Netflix for the plane. Your international flight will likely have entertainment but your domestic connections may not. Extra points if you pick some New Zealand classics such as Whale Rider, Boy, The Hunt for the Wilder People or The Luminaries.
  • Don’t forget your computer and phone chargers! You can usually charge your phone on the flights over so you don’t waste your battery.
  • Wear a jacket for the plane or pack a large scarf that you can also use as a blanket. Plane rides get cold regardless of the weather wherever you take off and land. It’s also a good idea to wear layers.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you and fill it at the airport. Flying will really dehydrate you, especially on long trips, because of the lack of humidity in the cabin air. You also always want to make sure you have enough water anytime you’re heading out for a hike.
  • Pack any valuables and medication in your carry-on luggage. It stays with you the entire time so you can keep an eye on your most precious items.
“We spent 4 days doing the Abel Tasman trek and I have never laughed more in my life. Our packs were too heavy and our tent was too big but being in such a beautiful place with my amazing friends was an incredible bonding experience and we made memories that I will never forget.” | Photo by TEAN Alum Gaby Blady, Rutgers University who studied abroad in Auckland

If you’re ever not sure whether you should bring something or not – just don’t. Having the extra space will benefit you in the end, especially with all the souvenirs and mementos you’ll want to bring home. Plus it’s likely that wherever you’re going will have everything you may need. Happy packing!

Thinking about studying abroad in New Zealand? Contact us to speak to a TEAN Program Manager about our study abroad and internship opportunities in New Zealand