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Luggage and bags: Depending which direction you come from will dictate how many bags you can take. Via the USA you are allowed 2 bags with a 23kg (50lb) max & via Asia it's one bag. Be careful here as overweight luggage charges can be expensive.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: These items are going to depend greatly on what you intend to do. New Zealand has some stunning tracks to go tramping (hiking) so sturdy shoes/boots are a must for this activity. For the Urban tramper a good pair of walking shoes is recommended - especially those that can be dressed up (I travel light myself so like multi use items). New Zealand summers can be cooler than you'd like, especially in the evening (though we get some hot ones!!) so do bring something warm and a shower proof jacket so you're not caught out.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: New Zealand is a clean green country with safe water though you'd be advised to bring some squeeze on hand cleaner as public toilets don't always have adequate washing facilities. We have a 240v power supply with three pronged plugs that may be different to your home country. Most devices from the USA will not work here (I believe that you have a 115v supply) so be careful.
Photo Equipment: If you have a digital camera make sure you have enough memory or an external back-up device. You can always get Internet cafes to burn your photos onto CD as an alternative.
Updated Nov 10, 2012
Luggage and bags: Really depends on your way and preferences of travelling.
I have totally given up hard-case suitcases because they weigh so much that you cannot pack anything... LOL And soft-case suitcases are more forgiving if you buy too many souvenirs in NZ and have to "extend" your suitcase...
Either wear or pack your tramping/hiking boots near the top of the suitcase/backpack as they want to check them at the airport for biosecurity reasons.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Be prepared for all seasons with the ever changing wind and weather in NZ. Best is to pack clothes which you can wear in layers - because we can have four seasons in a day. Also be aware that you can have really cold days in summer and warm winter weeks.
Fast drying t-shirts, fleece vests and jackets, anorak and rainjacket are essential, a tiny umbrella would be good. Special tramping/hiking gear and boots, hiking sandals for crossing rivers, and not too many fancy shoes and dresses as we do not have a lot of cities where you can wear them ;-) Tramping in jeans is not recommended, especially not on glaciers, better special trousers, leggings or shorts. Hat/cap (think of the ozone hole!), gloves for glacier walk.
Clean your tramping/hiking boots and jogging shoes before you come into the country. As mentioned, they want to check them at the border control. If they are dirty they get cleaned and desinfected for free - but it costs your time at immigration.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: You can save a lot of kilos if you do not bring all toiletery stuff with you, like shampoo, conditioner, bodylotion and sunscreen. As you always arrive in a big city with a lot of shops just start your visit with buying those things in a supermarket or drugstore. Only bring your expensive face creams, and perfumes - if you do not stock up in the Duty Free Shops at the airport. The common European brands like Nivea, Wella and Schwartzkopf are available everywhere.
If you have to bring syringes into NZ best have a confirmation of your doctor, also for strong prescription medicines.
If you have problems with your blood circulation take aspirine or special pills for vein problems before the flight, and wear special stockings. Drink as much water or juice as you can get and as little alcohol as possible.
Buy insect repellent (we DO have nasty sandflies...) in NZ.
Photo Equipment: Do not forget your chargers (and adapters for them)! Although the trend is clearly towards digital photography films are still available, slides is a real problem.
You can download your photos on CDs or DVDs in internet cafés and many shops, even in rather remote area, so there is no need to have megasize cards.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: see above: clothing, shoes etc.
Travel Health Insurance (you can also get it from NZ insurer Southern Cross, they sell it to visitors under 80 years of age)
A spare pair of glasses
Credit cards (you can pay nearly everywhere with them, even the smallest amounts)
Mobile Phone (you can charge it with a NZ Vodafone, Telecom or 2degrees SIM card)
Vouchers for bookings made at home
International driver's license respectively an English language license (essential since 2006)
Updated Jul 30, 2012
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: GOOD quality rain gear, especially if you are spending any time on the south island. I found it quite cold there even in the height of the summer. Bring lots of layers. Bring good hiking boots and shoes for the water. I had some issues with all my stuff getting wet (and not drying because of the cold rain) so if you are a real light packer you may want to bring more than usual. I am from Florida (USA) and I was often cold but I didn't really pack for the weather here since I wasn't planning on even visiting NZ.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: I was able to find everything I needed without a problem. The prices are a bit higher since its a small island though.
Updated Jul 4, 2012
Miscellaneous: If you're a fan of the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy, you will love Lord of The Rings Location Guidebook (-$NZ25), the definitive guidebook on all locations used in the movies. Author Ian Brodie is a devoted Tolkien fan, director of the NZ Fighter Pilots Museum in Wanaka, and an established and successful aviation writer. It is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the locations, stunning movie stills provided by New Line Cinema, cast and crew contributions, interesting URLs, and even GPS locations (!). Not only LOTR locations, but also where the cast and crew went for dinner, shopping, ... This is where we got the tip for the Belgian brasserie 'Leuven' in Wellington. Else we would probably never have known.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Miscellaneous: NEVER EVER bring fruit, vegetables, honey, meat, fish, flowers or such things into NZ. If you have not eaten your apple in the airplane, leave it there, or - your last chance - throw it into the amnesty bins at the terminal upon arrival.
If you have this apple in your bag and you have not declared it and the MAF dogs discover them you will instantly pay a NZ$200 fine. Answer all questions in the immigration papers honestly, otherwise you could get into trouble. Update Feb. 2010: Although the MAF website is not updated yet the instant fine has increased to NZ$ 400.
You are allowed to bring chocolate and biscuits and such stuff into the country, just note it in your papers.
You are even allowed to bring preserved fruit in alcohol or brine solutions, just not fresh fruit. When you bring jams make sure they do not contain honey. Everything that contains honey is highly likely to be prohibited. I would not risk them to confiscate and destroy food you might have paid a lot of money for.
But again: Declare any kind of food you have in your bags.
Updated Feb 22, 2010
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Lots of warm clothes. Beanies, scarves, boots, socks, gloves, big warm jackets, (wind n waterproof), warm pants.
Photo Equipment: Film, film, film. Make sure you take plenty of film/memory cards for your cameras. You will need it. If you think you have enough....get some more. Its an amazing place with amazing scenery.
Miscellaneous: Charge your digital cameras and video recorders every night!!!
Updated Sep 13, 2008
Luggage and bags: If you plan to get on a (or more) domestic flight(s) in New Zealand you should know about the new baggage policy of Air New Zealand that applies from 15 September 2008. In some cases it will surely make sense to pack for your international flight accordingly if you want to save some dollars.
Only the first checked bag of up to 25 kg will be free. A second bag (whatever the weight is) will cost you $ 15, the third bag $ 50, and every further bag $ 200.
International allowances will remain unchanged and depend on the weight and not on the number of bags. If you fly east via Australia and Hong Kong only 20 kg are allowed. If you fly west via the US you can travel with two bags weighing up to 23 kg each. (All this applies to economy class.)
Updated Sep 8, 2008
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Get a bucket of insect repellent. Most of the south island is infested with sand flies and they are a serious nuisance. We met and saw people come out of treks looking like they were hormonal teenagers with acne that could be considered a contraceptive (no sex with that face).
Another thing to note with the sand flies is a few days later the itch subsides but when you take a hot water shower the itch returns .. this can go on for over a week or so.. quite annoying!
Written Nov 28, 2007
Luggage and bags: If it's winter when you go you are probably going to need your two bag limit as airlines are getting finicky about weight.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: An unbrella would have been a great idea. You will need walking shoes! If you go in the winter, a mid weight jacket with a windbreaker is a nice thing! Take a nicer pair of shoes if you are planning to go out to nicer restaurants in the evening.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Even though medicines are fairly plentiful, they are expensive. Take what you need when you go. If you are on any prescription drugs, get a letter from your doctor before you go about the medication and the reason you take it, just in case customs asks.
Photo Equipment: We took our digital camera and our laptop. I took 500 photos, so it was nice to be able to download them once the memory card was full. We also took our video camera and made a few DVD's. The scenery can keep you busy!
Miscellaneous: Pack a lightweight bag so you can take gifts home for family and friends!
Updated Sep 21, 2007
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: NZ get slammed by the brutal UV rays due to the lack of ozone, clean atmosphere and the fact that the Southern Hemisphere actually gets closer to the sun than the northern hemisphere during summer. You can easily get burnt in 10 minutes during summer months, and even during spring skiing. Skin cancer is no joke! Get some sunscreen!
Updated Aug 24, 2006
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