17 New Zealand trekking gear tips: What to take hiking in NZ?

Nov 16, 2021 BY AWE365 Team

Planning to hit the trail but want to know what to take hiking in NZ? Whether you are out on a day hike or a multi day trek follow these 17 New Zealand trekking gear tips to cover all the bases.

NZ trekking holidays Milford track one of the best treks in New Zealand flickr CC image by Iancochrane

Known as one of the best place in the world for adventure the outdoor activities in New Zealand don’t disappoint. The country is not that big, but each island has a huge amount of variety on offer. The weather conditions also change massively within regions and often within a few minutes.

Expect strong sun, seriously it feels a few million kilometres closer. The proximity of oceans has created a maritime climate combined with extended Alpine ridges this make the weather really changeable. But all this variety means the best treks in New Zealand are some of the top routes on the planet.

What to take hiking in NZ?

17 New Zealand trekking gear tips: What to take hiking in NZ? flickr CC image of Southern Alps in Mackenzie region by Bernard Spragg

17 New Zealand trekking gear tips

So, what to take hiking in NZ? Which clothes should you take? What other equipment do you need? Of course, it depends on the sort of the hiking you are planning to do, but here’s some useful New Zealand trekking gear tips.

Food and drink

First up always take enough food and drink for your trek. I am not going to tell you what you need as that depends on so many factors. Just ensure you take more water than you think you’ll need and extra food just in case.

Trekking boots

You will need sturdy and waterproof  footwear. You can get away with shoes on day walks in easy terrain. But any rough trails or if carrying a load you should wear boots. I prefer leather footwear, but it’s down to you. In summer on easier trails sports sandals can be enough.

what type of walking footwear should i buy? Flickr image by savagecat

Hiking socks

Do invest in a good pair of hiking socks –they make a huge difference. Never hike in cotton socks as your feet will become wet with sweat which can cause blisters. Check out 1000 mile socks and other blister free varieties if you suffer from rubbing.


Gaiters on your boots will help you stay dry. Also they will protect your lower legs from stones, debris and thorns which grow everywhere in New Zealand. Well worth taking, particularly if you are forging your own path in the backcountry.

Base layers/sports underwear

Often known as thermals, a good set of baselayers is one of the top New Zealand trekking gear tips. They add warmth, but also wick sweat away from your body to help keep you dry. If you don’t feel the need to wear baselayers on your lower half then invest in good active underwear to avoid chaffing.

Guide to Southern Alps overland adventures in New Zealand flickr CC image by Tom


Possibly the most frequent question is what type of jacket to take hiking in NZ? If you aren’t going to climb mountains, you won’t need a full on winter jacket – even in winter. The best choice is a non insulated waterproof jacket that is fully breathable – often called a shell. Don’t forget similar trousers too.

This is so that you can layer your clothing appropriate to the weather. Full-on waterproofs are very useful all year round and are essential in winter. But you don’t want a heavy insulted jacket as it adds weight and gives less flexibility in layering.


If you are hiking in the summer and the forecast is good just a fleece will probably do as your midlayer. In less clement weather it is helpful to have a midlayer with a windproof membrane, for example a windbreaker coat. During winter and at altitude you might want a technical midlayer or an insulator to provide warmth.

17 New Zealand trekking gear tips What to take hiking in NZ Pixabay royalty free image

Quick drying clothing

One of the top New Zealand trekking gear tips is to take lightweight, quick drying clothing that suits the weather. This is shorts and sports t-shirts in the summer and perhaps trousers and long sleeves t-shirts in the winter.

Don’t forget some spare “just in case” clothes. And on multi day hikes something to wear when you have finished for the day.

Mobile phone

For mapping, emergencies and taking photos it is great to have your phone with you, plus a spare battery pack just in case. Just don’t get distracted by online New Zealand casinos – remember you are in the outdoors to escape technology!

Basic compass skills Using a map and compass to find your way pixabay royalty free image

Map, Compass and GPS

You should always take a map and compass when hiking. Check out these basic compass skills if you are not sure how to use them. GPS is very helpful and a great optional extra but you should never rely on it 100%.


We’ve all overrun on a hike and had to walk a trail in the dark. This can be very dangerous. So when asked what to take hiking in NZ, I would always suggest a torch and spare batteries. These days the LED torches are lightweight but give off plenty of lumens.

Sun lotion

Be prepared for strong sunshine.  It is possible to get sunburn in the winter and in cloudy weather! So wack on SPF30+ to avoid burning.

Guide to New Zealand trekking holidays: From Coromandel towards Great Barrier Island. flickr image by Alex Schwab


A hat that shields your eyes and face from the sun is worth it’s weight in gold during the summer. Also pack a warm beanie for cold weather.


The sun is strong and most people in New Zealand wear shades to protect their eyes. Plus the sun is low in the sky during winter, so if it is not cloudy you’ll be pleased you packed your sunnies.

Insect repellent

You won’t need it most of the time but when you do it’s a life saver. Take repellent to put off sand flies plus a variety of bloodsucking insects that could trouble you in New Zealand.

NZ trekking holidays Kepler track one of the best treks in New Zealand flickr CC image by evanforester


An ever useful swiss army penknife or a multitool is worth having in your pack. You never know when you will need to create a walking stick or cut an animal loose from some tangled rope… Plus they are useful for opening beers!

First Aid kit

So last but not least in this guide of what to take hiking in NZ is a first aid kit. At the very least you need the basics to deal with cuts and blisters plus painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine. The further out of the way your trip the more comprehensive your first aid kit should be.

Good luck on your trek. And remember in New Zealand if you dislike the weather just wait half an hour!

We hope you found these 17 New Zealand trekking gear tips useful. Now you know what to take hiking in NZ you need to book a trip. So check out these New Zealand trekking holidays.

New Zealand, North Island, Oceania, South Island
Hiking, Trekking
clothing, compass, Footwear, Maps, Waterproof
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