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10 clothing items to pack before you move to New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand promises a laid-back lifestyle, but if you’ve never visited before, you may not know what to pack. Whether you are visiting for a holiday or planning a move, there are some things you won’t want to forget.
By · December 1, 2023
10 clothing items to pack before you move to New Zealand

Moving to New Zealand promises a laid-back lifestyle, but if you’ve never visited before, you may not know what to pack. Whether you are visiting for a holiday or planning a move, there are some things you won’t want to forget.

While shops are always on hand to help you if you’ve forgotten anything, it can be cheaper to bring items from overseas where prices are lower, and there can be more choices.

To ensure you're well-prepared for the Kiwi way of life, here's what to pack before you embark on your New Zealand adventure.

1. Versatile clothing for layering 

New Zealand's weather is famously changeable, and packing versatile clothing is essential. It’s not uncommon to experience four seasons in one day. While the north island experiences warmer temperatures than most other areas, wind, rain and overcast days are normal even in summer.

One of the best ways to pack for New Zealand is by bringing a mix of short and long-sleeved tops and pants and thin and thick overshirts, sweatshirts and knitted tops. You’ll also need shorts and long pants in various thicknesses to get you through cold winter days and warm summers. A waterproof and windproof jacket is necessary for unexpected rain or cool winds that are common year-round.

2. Uggs for cold winter nights

Uggs aren't just a fashion statement; they are necessary to get through New Zealand's cooler months. Given the absence of underfloor heating in many homes, having a pair of Uggs is a great way to keep your feet warm and comfortable indoors.

Since New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a good idea to get a pair of Uggs before the end of May, before the coldest months of the year set in. Uggs can be expensive, but one way to ensure they last you for a lifetime is to wear them indoors. These slippers aren’t waterproof and wearing them out of the house puts them at risk of getting wet.

3. Footwear for getting outdoors

Whether you’re holidaying or living in New Zealand you’ll need a wide range of footwear to properly participate in the Kiwi way of life. Many New Zealanders enjoy spending time in the outdoors and walking, hiking and camping are one of the best ways to see the country. Here’s what you should think about adding to your suitcase:

Hiking Boots: New Zealand's landscapes are a hiker's paradise. Invest in high-quality, waterproof hiking boots for tramping through the diverse terrain, from dense forests to rugged mountains. A good pair that is well looked after can last for more than ten years.

Sports Shoes: Whether you're jogging along the waterfront in Auckland or playing a friendly game of touch rugby, a reliable pair of sports shoes is a must-have so that you can take part in local sport or just enjoy running and walking around your local neighbourhood.

Jandals (Flip-Flops) and Sandals: Kiwis have a relaxed attitude toward footwear, especially during the warmer months. Jandals (the Kiwi word for flip-flops or thongs) or sandals are perfect for casual outings, beach days, or simply enjoying the laid-back Kiwi lifestyle.

A pair of sandals you can quickly slip on and off is perfect for the summer months and will help protect your feet on the hot sand. Jandals are also perfect for protecting your feet from communal showers if you’re planning on staying at a hostel at any point on your trip.

4. Swimwear for exploring New Zealand’s natural waterways

There’s no shortage of places to swim in New Zealand. Every region has an abundance of stunning beaches, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and waterways to explore and it wouldn’t be a Kiwi summer without a dip in the sea. Shopping for swimwear can be difficult in New Zealand outside of summer, so it’s important to bring a pair with you if you’re travelling here in Autumn or Winter (April to October). Even in winter, you can explore the many natural hot pools around the country.

5. A quality winter coat and raincoat

New Zealand winters can be chilly, especially on the South Island. Invest in a high-quality winter coat that is both warm and waterproof. Look for one with insulation to keep you comfortable during colder spells, and opt for a style that suits both urban and outdoor settings. Wool coats are perfect for the south island as winter gets the coldest in Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

If you’re in Wellington, think about investing in a coat that’s warm but also waterproof and windproof. The capital’s windy weather can make staying dry in winter an issue. Even if you’re planning on spending winter in the ‘winterless north’ a windbreaker is one of the best investments you can make for moving to New Zealand. They’re breathable and perfect for throwing on before a hike. They pack well, don’t take up much room and won’t make you overheat either.

6. Branded clothing and shoes

If there’s anything you really want to buy before moving to New Zealand, do it before your move. While you can purchase popular brands like Birkenstocks before arriving in New Zealand, imported items can be more expensive, plus the New Zealand dollar is lower than the Euro, Pound and American Dollar. Buying these brands before you arrive in New Zealand will mean you save money and have more choices when it comes to styles and colours.

When you’re in New Zealand, you can explore New Zealand-made brands and retailers and take unique and well-made clothing home with you after your trip.

7. A backpack

A sturdy, comfortable backpack is essential for day trips, hikes, or simply for exploring whatever town or city you find yourself in. Waiting to buy one in New Zealand can mean paying more for something you could get at a more affordable rate overseas.

If you’re not into backpacking, a smaller bag for day-tripping or just keeping your hands free while on holiday is a must. New Zealanders are a pretty casual bunch, and you won’t look out of place by wearing one. If you have to buy a backpack for hiking in New Zealand, look out for regular sales at high-quality hiking brands such as Kathmandu, MacPac or Mountain Warehouse.

8. Travel adapters and electronics

Make sure your electronic devices are compatible with New Zealand's power outlets. Bring a reliable adapter to keep your devices charged, especially if you plan to explore remote areas. Consider packing a portable charger for your phone to stay connected on your adventures. New Zealand uses the same type of adapters as Australia.

However, if you are travelling from Asia, the UK, Europe, or North or South America, you’ll need to buy an adapter. A universal adapter is a great investment if you travel a lot. They’re inexpensive and mean you only have to keep track of one plug no matter where you travel.

9. Hats, sunglasses and sun protection

Don’t underestimate the New Zealand sun. The Kiwi sun is very hot and it’s possible to get burnt even on a cloudy day or a sunny day in the middle of winter. Whether you’re skiing in the South Island during winter or enjoying laying on a beach in the North Island during the Christmas break, make sure you’ve packed sun glasses and sunscreen and reapply it during the day. A hat for the summer and a beach coverup is also a great idea.

10. Anything you’d buy off Amazon

While you can buy items similar to what you would buy on Amazon in New Zealand, Kiwis don’t tend to use the shopping site because many sellers don’t ship here. If there are any wardrobe (or travelling) essentials you need before you move, make sure you stock up on these items.

New Zealand's weather can be as diverse as our landscapes. Whether you’re exploring our cities or the great outdoors, these wardrobe essentials will ensure you get the most out of your time here.

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