Planning to travel around New Zealand and Australia during summer? Wonderful, you’ll have a blast! It’s beautifully tropical, we have some of the world’s best beaches and our unique wildlife is fascinating. Although best of all, if you’re coming from the northern hemisphere - you’ll be skipping your own winter altogether!
What to know about summer in Aussie and NZ:
Our summer months are December, January and February, but the nice weather often starts in October and continues through until April, so if you’re looking to save a bit of extra money, accommodation is always cheaper outside of the summer months.
Temperatures vary greatly. In Australia most coastal towns and cities will be around 30°C during the summer and around 35°C in Alice Springs or Darwin, but it can easily be hotter. New Zealand averages around 25°C, often 30°C in the north and 20°C down south during the afternoon.
Summer in New Zealand is no joke. We have a relatively 'clean' atmosphere due to remoteness and low population density. This means that UV radiation can pass through the atmosphere relatively unhindered and in summer, ozone-depleted air moves over New Zealand from Antarctica. According to statistics, New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world and I find that I’ll need to apply sunscreen within 30 minutes of being in the sun otherwise I’ll burn (sometimes even if it's a little overcast).
When I pack for a trip I try to fill my bag to around ¾ full, so that I can bring back souvenirs. I roll everything tight - but you can use packing cubes if that’s your jam. You want one week’s worth of clothing regardless of how long you plan to travel, as you’ll be doing laundry each week (and often just throwing on yesterday’s t-shirt for a quick morning walk on the beach)
Aussies and kiwis are casual dressers for the most part. Our summer staples are denim shorts and a t-shirt paired with a pair of thongs/jandals (flip-flops), so don't worry too much if you don't have the packing room for a large variety of brands and styles, whatever you find is comfortable will be fine.
What to bring:
2 singlets/tank tops
To wear on lovely warm days in parks, on beaches and anywhere the sun is shining.
3 - 5 t-shirts
These are your basics. They’ll keep the sun off your sunburnt shoulders. Think airy light materials in styles and colours that work well for anything from visiting museums to walking beaches to going out for a quick lunch.
2 -3 pairs of denim or cotton shorts/skirts
Pick your favourites from home, and go for stylishly comfortable. Denim shorts are always in fashion and a hardy durable material. Great for anything. Many travellers bring over zip off trousers that convert to shorts, but unless you plan to do multiday hikes, skip the unnecessary expense and bring whatever’s in your wardrobe.
7 pairs of underwear and socks
1-2 pairs of togs
What we call swimsuits/bikinis on this side of the globe. If you want to buy a new swimsuit while you’re here, I highly recommend Australian brand Seafolly for a quality design and make. They are sold at most surf shops.
1-2 quick drying towels
I’ve recently had the pleasure of trying out a Tesalate beach towel. They’re a microfiber quick drying towel so you won't have to pack away a soggy towel between uses. They’re compact and sand free, which means less sand in your backpack and more space for souvenirs. The bonus is that it can double as a yoga mat!
But not only are they practical, the designs are stunning! Their 2019 range are vividly beautiful and as hard as it was to choose just one, my favourite is The Bohemian, a brilliantly kaleidoscopic beach towel that I’ve joyfully brought seaside at any chance I’ve had.
They cost NZ$79 but I think it's absolutely worth the money, and Tesalate offer free shipping worldwide from Australia so you can order one to arrive before your trip, too easy mate!
An evening option
Aussies and Kiwis are casual dressers by nature, so if you’re stuck for space, anything semi-formal will pass in most restaurants. Bring a dress or dress shirt and trousers that can be dressed up or down by pairing swapping shoes, and adding jewellery.
Otherwise known as flip-flops or sandals. The best shoes are a little worn and broken in, to prevent a nasty little blister between the first two toes. While there are many cheap options for flip-flops, Havaianas have been my go-to for many kiwi summers. You may want to bring a pair of closed heal sandals as a dress up option.
You’ll want to bring walking shoes of some sort, because you’ll need them even if you’re not a keen hiker. If you’re planning to do multiday hikes, bring proper hiking boots. If you want to do some single day hikes, such as in the Blue Mountains of Aus or the Tongariro Crossing in NZ, a pair of comfortable trainers/running shoes will suit you fine (and double as city walking shoes).
When you aren’t wearing your favourite pair of worn denim shorts, you’ll be wearing your yoga pants/leggings. Perfect for hiking and exploring, but also comfortable for flights, buses and road trips.
A hat and sunglasses
If you love a big floppy sunhat, bring it. If caps make you happy, bring it. Likewise for your favourite pair of sunnies (sunglasses). If you buy some over here, Moana Road design some very cool sunnies.
A summer hoodie/cardigan
For those cool evenings when you decide to take an after dinner walk along the beach, or there’s a brisk breeze on an otherwise lovely day. Or maybe you’re at the mall and the air-con is on way too low. If you don’t feel the cold too easily, you could just bring a long sleeved top.
I like to pick up most things from local supermarkets when I arrive in a new place. I find it really enjoyable to explore foreign shops and try unfamiliar brands that locals love. With that in mind, toiletries will be roughly the same price as back home, so if you have some of these things in the bathroom already, you may as well bring them and save yourself some money.
You’ll need: Sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a hairbrush, mosquito repellent (affectionately called mozzie spray here), and aloe vera gel for sunburns.
You may also want to bring: tweezers, a shaver, makeup (but keep it light as foundation cream will sweat off) and any prescription medicines or contraception.
Phone, camera and possibly a laptop and e-reader. Plus all associated chargers and an adaptor. You can pick up an adaptor at any airport you fly into, and they work for outlets in both Australia and New Zealand.
Documents and papers
A novel, if you like reading and swapping books as you travel, spare paper or a notebook and pen, your passport, a guidebook (although the internet offers the most up-to-date information, so if you’re looking to save space you could probably leave this one at home (although I love guidebooks and bring them everywhere)), cash - $500 in physical notes in any major currency will help you out in an emergency, keep them stashed away until you need it. A credit card – you’ll have no problems with finding ATMs to accept your cards and all hotels and tourist places will accept too.
Disclaimer: Tesalate provided me with one of their wonderful beach towels free of charge. All opinions stated here are my own.
-plus our pup loves it
Pin it to your summer travel board: