Essential tips and items for a tramping trip in New Zealand
Studying in New Zealand is the perfect opportunity to explore the great outdoors. New Zealand boasts countless trails and tracks, including its nine famous “Great Walks”, a group of popular multi-day tramping trails.
If you’re thinking about going on a tramping trip (or even just a day hike) in New Zealand, here are some important things you should bring on your adventure.
- Hiking boots are a must for any multi-day tramps, especially if you’re hiking on less popular tracks where the path may not be very clear or defined.
- Bug spray or sandfly cream - if you have not yet encountered sandflies, they are terrible. Like mosquitos but worse, because not only do the bites itch, they also hurt and sometimes swell into gross blisters! They will eat you alive unless you’re wearing bug spray. Sandflies are especially abundant in warmer areas. You can also ward them off with a campfire because they don’t like smoke.
- Layers layers layers! Weather in New Zealand can change alarmingly quickly, so it’s important to always be prepared. While you may be hot while hiking, it can get pretty cold once you stop moving and the sun sets. Always bring a rain jacket just in case, and if the forecast shows rain, it’s probably a good idea to (a) get a waterproof pack cover, or (b) keep all your items in Ziploc storage bags.
- Camera – Snap some cool pics of the amazing places you’re going! New Zealand is filled with stunning scenery.
- Band-aids – If you haven’t done much hiking or haven’t worn in your boots, it’s likely that you’ll get some blisters. Bring band-aids to wrap them up so your feet aren’t in as much pain.
- Deodorant – You’re gonna have a rough time if you forget this one.
- Lighter – To start your gas stove and/or campfires. Many areas in New Zealand have a total fire ban, so make sure you’re legally allowed to have a campfire before you make one.
- Gas canister and backpacking stove for if you want any warm meals on the track. Cans of soup or chili are easy because you can put the can right onto the stove (make sure to peel off the wrapper first so it doesn’t catch on fire!). Ramen is also quick and easy (and doesn’t add much weight to your pack), so it doesn’t use up too much gas. If you’re indoors, make sure you crack a window while cooking so the gas doesn’t build up inside – it can be fatal!
Additional things to think about:
Tents are not essential, but camping is generally far cheaper than staying in huts. For example, a hut on a Great Walk can cost up to 70 NZD a night (about 50 USD), while campsites are generally only 15 NZD. Also, a Great Walk will be far cheaper if you do it out of season (May-October). It’s a good idea to book campsites/huts in advance to make sure they don’t sell out, especially on a popular trail like a Great Walk.
Freedom camping is generally not allowed in New Zealand. However, if you have an RV or self-contained vehicle, there are many places you can stay overnight for free, such as select rest stops. While freedom camping (camping in random places that aren’t designated as campsites) is possible if you’re smart about where you stay and wake up very early, it’s a $200 ticket if you get caught. It’s probably best to find an actual campsite, which are usually $10-15 a person.
Have fun out there and go experience the New Zealand wilderness!
About the contributors
American student Rosemary Sobrinski is studying at the University of Otago in New Zealand for a semester. She is a recipient of the Education New Zealand Scholarship. She is studying mathematics and chose to study in New Zealand because of its reputation as the adventure capital of the world.