Hiking in NZ requires proper equipment. You need wind proof and water proof clothing that’ll keep you warm and dry. The weather can change suddenly, so always pack a few layers no matter how promising the day looks. We had to buy gloves, a beanie, and proper hiking pants during our trip.
Absolute Hiking Essentials
The following list contains our personal hiking gear and a few additional recommendations.
Waterproof Hiking Boots. We highly recommend the Vasque Women’s Talus Waterproof Hiking Shoes, which is a sturdy and durable boot with great grip and overall support. If you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable hiking boot, which is great for casual hiking, Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking Boot is perfect. If you want to invest in a serious hiking boot that will serve you well in rocky, high alpine terrain, look into buying a pair of Hanwag Tatra Light Lady GTX. These shoes have an extraordinary profile and aren’t rigid like traditional alpine boots.
Merino Wool Hiking Socks. Icebreaker makes the best hiking socks out there. Socks have lifetime warranty.
Hiking Pants. When buying hiking pants, we think flexibility and ability to shed water are two important criteria. We both bought two pairs of these Macpac Women’s Hike Tight Pants and we love them. They’re breathable and extremely comfortable in all types of weather. Bonus: you don’t need to wear a belt.
Rain Jacket. When we tallied up all the hikes we did in NZ, we realized that we hiked in rain 40% of the time. It’s essential to always carry a proper rain jacket. Kati’s North Face Venture Rain Jacket is excellent quality and truly waterproof.
Down Vest. Everyone has different preferences, but when it comes to keeping your core warm on the trail, but not overheating, vests are your best friend. Sabrina never hikes without her Eddie Bauer StormDown Vest.
Fleece (one for hiking, one for sleeping). It’s always good to have a fleece with you for added warmth. Fleece sweaters are lightweight and dry quickly. Buy a Marmot Norhiem Women’s Sweater Knit Fleece Jacket on Amazon.
Long Sleeve Quick-Dry Shirt
Gloves. NZ wind can be brutal. Your hands will thank you, if you give them some protection. If your hands tend to swell while hiking, make sure to buy gloves that aren’t too tight.
Beanie and Sunhat
Polarized Sunglasses. It’s essential to buy polarized glasses that wrap around your head. No fashion shades!
Hiking Backpack. Perfect backpack for day hiking: Jack Wolfskin Rock Surfer 25.5.
Backpack Rain Cover. Rain is part of the NZ hiking experience. You’ll definitely want a rain cover.
Hiking Poles. Opt for poles with lever locks (flick lock mechanism), as opposed to twisting locks. They’re more durable.
1-Liter Reusable Water Bottle. We both carry at least 1 water bottle each. You can refill your reusable water bottles at the mountain huts.
Overnight Hiking Gear (for staying in a mountain hut)
Hiking Backpack + Raincover. Ideal hut to hut trekking backpacks: Osprey Packs Kyte 36 Women’s Backpack or Osprey Packs Kestrel 38 Backpack for Men.
Sleeping Bag. Try to invest in a lightweight, but warm sleeping bag. We tried just bringing a sleeping bag liner, but we almost froze.
Portable Camping Stove + Gas. Some mountain huts don’t have stoves, which means you’ll need to bring your own portable camping stove and gas. To find out what amenities your mountain hut has, we recommend contacting the regional DOC office.
Cooking Pot. In the mountain huts, there may, or may not be cooking appliances. We recommend bringing your own lightweight cooking pot to be safe.
Lighter, or matches. If the mountain hut does have a gas stove, you’re going to need a way to light it.
Freeze Dried Food. We like Back Country Cuisine. You can buy their meals at most outdoor stores as well as some supermarkets in New Zealand.
Headlamp. It’s essential to have a headlamp when overnighting in NZ mountain huts. You’ll want one for navigating the hut in the evening and for middle of the night bathroom runs. It’s a lot safer than using the flashlight on your phone.
Geothermal shirt and pants for sleeping.
Ear Plugs. The huts have dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. So, if someone is snoring next to you, ear plugs might be your only chance for a good night’s rest.
Waterproof house slippers. After a day of hiking, it’s so enjoyable to finally take of your boots and slip on a pair of Crocs. We used to only bring flip flops, but since upgrading to crocs, our feet have never been happier.
E-reader. Kindle, or iPad
Get Hiking Insurance
For peace of mind on the trail, make sure you have hiking travel insurance. When you have World Nomads insurance, you’ll get emergency medical insurance, emergency medical transportation, gear protection (in case of theft, loss, or damage) and trip protection (in case of cancellation).
Learn more about hiking insurance here.