New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List

New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List - New Zealand Packing List Tips

Since I’m on a year-long working holiday in New Zealand, I decided to make a quick New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List. This is EVERYTHING I brought with me for 1 year in New Zealand. I hope it’s helpful to anyone else doing the same trip.

Before I left for my working holiday, I read every single New Zealand packing list I could find. I found them to be super helpful, so I want to show you guys everything I packed for my New Zealand working holiday. I think this will also be helpful to me for the sake of organization, and to see what I actually use compared to what I brought.

To keep this post as simple as possible, I’m just going to list out everything I packed for my New Zealand Working Holiday, along with a few pictures for illustrations. Linked items are either exact items or recommended replacements.

This is my 1 year New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List

(Post updated May 2018)

New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List: Everything I packed for 1 year in New Zealand #newzealand #workingholiday #packinglist

New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List

New Zealand Packing List Tips

Let’s start this post off with a few general packing tips for your working holiday. There are a few things you should know about New Zealand culture and what it’s like on a working holiday in order to pack the right things.

  • New Zealand is a VERY casual place. You don’t need to dress up for most occasions.
  • You’ll probably spend a lot of time outdoors while traveling, so bring items you can wear while hiking/camping/exploring/etc.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed about packing for 1 year (or more). Just pack as you would for 1 or 2 weeks & add in necessary seasonal items. A lot of people over pack for long-term travel, but you’re better off keeping it simple.
  • Don’t bring a bunch of things that you don’t actually need to have with you. Extra books, pillows, electronics, etc will weigh you down.
  • New Zealand weather varies A LOT, so pack for all seasons. Instead of bringing heavy winter items, pack layers to keep you warm.
  • If you plan to spend most of your time in big cities & settle into one place, feel free to bring a few more nice/stylish clothing items. (Most backpackers won’t need them, but some of you might plan to work an office job in Auckland/Wellington and live there the entire time.)
  • Use packing cubes to organize all of your stuff. It will make your life so much easier!
  • You can find anything you need in New Zealand, so don’t stress out about packing.

Best Backpack for a Working Holiday in New Zealand

The most important choice on your New Zealand working holiday packing list is which backpack to use. That’s where it all starts. I was totally new to the world of travel backpacks when I started this journey, but I decided to go with the Osprey Porter 46 for this trip.

Here’s a few things I like about the Osprey Porter 46:

  • It’s carry-on size on most airlines
  • It can be carried like a duffle or worn as a backpack (the straps pack away into a zippered compartment)
  • The compartment opens from the front (instead of the top) so it’s easy to access all of your stuff
  • The inside is spacious enough to pack things however you like

A lot of people recommend 60-70 liter backpacks, but here’s why I think 46 liters is ideal:

  • It will dissuade you from over packing (the more room in your pack, the more you’re going to bring)
  • A smaller pack means less weight to lug around on buses, up stairs, & around town (you’re going to be bring this thing everywhere you go!)
  • Having a carry-on size bag is always better in my opinion

I also brought a day pack to hold my valuables and important items, and it added up to quite a lot of space. In fact, even just a few months into my trip, I felt like it was more space than I needed. I think you CAN manage to travel New Zealand for 1 year in a carry-on size backpack, but I know most people don’t want to do that.

Of course, you don’t have to use a backpack. You can bring a rolling suitcase or duffel bag if you prefer. Backpacks are great for working holidays and staying in hostels, but you won’t have any issues with rolling luggage in New Zealand.

Here are a few other luggage suggestions if the Osprey 46 doesn’t work for you

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Everything I Packed for 1 Year in New Zealand

The Basics

I already went into detail about my backpack, but I just want to quickly list out the main luggage items I brought. These pieces are the foundation of my New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List! The Osprey Porter 46 ended up being the perfect size for me, and I wouldn’t have been able to pack so light without my packing cubes to keep me organized.

New Zealand Packing List


I tried to pack as light as possible for my working holiday, so when it comes to clothing, I kept it simple. I chose pieces that could all be worn together and could be worn in multiple situations. I definitely skipped style in favor of comfort and versatility. That being said, my style naturally lends itself to packing light since I prefer to wear black, gray, army green, and a just a couple of printed pieces.

The most important thing to remember when packing for New Zealand is to dress in layers. And since you’re packing for a range of seasons and weather into a small backpack, it’s just as important to be strategic.

New Zealand Packing List


Like I said before, layers are key! A fleece jacket makes such a difference. It can be worn alone, or layered under one of the other jackets. This kept me plenty warm in all seasons. I will note that I didn’t spend any time in snowy regions. If you plan to spend winters in mountain regions, consider packing a lightweight coat.


Keep it simple with shoes. I recommend bringing a pair of hiking boots because you’ll definitely want to do some hiking in New Zealand, plus it’s just a very outdoorsy place. A lightweight tennis shoe works for most days, and flip flops should be brought on EVERY trip in my opinion. I brought a casual, flat shoe for more “stylish” outfits when going out.

New Zealand Packing List


If you’re headed to New Zealand for a working holiday, or even just an extended trip, you’ll end up buying full-size toiletries once you arrive. Especially if you settle into one place for a while to work. So don’t bother bringing too much–I recommend just packing some travel-size toiletries to cover your first couple of days.

  • Small hairbrush
  • Travel-size body wash/shampoo/conditioner/lotion
  • Face wash
  • Face moisturizer
  • Deodorant
  • Travel toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Small pack of face wipes
  • Lip balm (Carmex is my favorite)
  • Tampons
  • Bandages
  • Extra hair ties
  • Ibuprofen


While I recommend buying most of your toiletries once you arrive in New Zealand, I DO recommend bringing your favorite makeup products or brushes (if you want to bring makeup). I found cosmetics to be pretty expensive in New Zealand.

New Zealand Packing List

New Zealand Packing List



Check my Essential Hostel Packing List for a few more suggestions

1 Year in New Zealand Packing List
Everything inside my Osprey pack (except shoes)
New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List
All packed up!

I just want to reiterate that this list was everything I packed for my New Zealand working holiday. This is not necessarily everything that YOU should pack, since what you need/want to pack may be different. However, I did pack light, so I considered all of these items essential to me for 1 year in New Zealand.  I thought it would be helpful to list out everything so you guys could see exactly what I packed–that’s the kind of list I was looking for before I went to New Zealand. Ultimately, anything you need can be bought once you arrive in New Zealand. So don’t stress out about the packing process!

I really hope this New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List was helpful for you. Please leave a comment if you have any other questions!


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More New Zealand Working Holiday Info:

How to Get Working Holiday Insurance

New Zealand Working Holiday FAQ (The Basics)

Best New Zealand Hostels

The True Cost of Traveling New Zealand

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New Zealand Working Holiday Packing List: Everything I packed for 1 year in New Zealand #newzealand #packinglist #workingholiday

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By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.

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