MoaTours guests at Erewhon Station in the Canterbury High Country

Packing list for New Zealand Senior Travel

Here are some handy travel tips and a full packing list for anyone travelling on our small group tours.

This includes all the clothing and other essential items you need, plus some hints to make sure you bring along all those important things to make your trip hassle free and enjoyable.

What to pack depends on where you’re going?

One of the great things about travelling around New Zealand is the huge variety of landscapes and environments you can experience. From the alpine environment of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to the beaches and bays of the Far North, there’s a lot of countryside to explore.

This will affect what you need to bring, the Far South will be colder then the Winterless North, and the high country is usually colder than the coast. The wonderful thing about New Zealand is that you can easily visit vastly different areas on the same trip, it’s not uncommon to be in the high country one day and down on the coast the next.

That means you need to be prepared and do a little homework before your trip.

A great place to start is the Metservice website, which covers the whole country, including many of the off the beaten track spots we like to visit on tour. We love the handy guide for each location which tells us the actual temperature right now, the wind chill and even how many layers you should be wearing.

When you’re getting ready for your trip, take a look at the weather at different times of the day for a few places you’ll visit on tour to give you an idea of the range of temperatures and conditions you’re likely to experience. This will help you work out what you need to pack.

MoaTours guide and guests at Franz Josef Glacier Valley

New Zealand weather is unpredictable so be prepared

If you’ve lived in New Zealand for a while you will know the weather changes quickly and we can experience any conditions at any time of the year. Take this wisdom with you when you’re travelling and more importantly, when you’re packing too.

You may be visiting a part of the country you haven’t been before, like the West Coast of the South Island or Stewart Island, where the weather may be totally different from what you’re used to at home.

Some areas may surprise you, for example, Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country can be very hot and dry in summer, over 30 degrees, but it’s a dry heat, whereas in the Far North it’s also hot but humid, so you’ll want clothing that breathes. Travelling in the South Island in autumn can be surprising for people who have never been there before too, the brilliant autumn sunshine in the daytime can often be followed by pretty fresh (that’s the South Island world for cold!) nights so you’ll want your woolly hat and gloves with you.

The main thing to remember is that even in summer during the warm months, there can be sudden changes in weather and temperatures can swing by 15 – 20 degrees within 24 hours.

So, the lesson here is be prepared, even if you’re travelling in summer pack layers, warm jackets, hats and gloves, you won’t regret it.

Think in layers

You hear this a lot when people talk about packing clothes for travelling, but what does it mean?

It’s about dressing and preparing in a way which lets you adapt during the day to changes in conditions without having to go back into your suitcase (which will be packed away in the coach). Basically you want to be able to peel off and put on clothes throughout the day as required, so you want to bring clothes and a day pack which makes that easy.

It starts with the base layer, which can be either long or short sleeved, a fabric which will feel comfortable against your skin is best. I love Merino, it’s perfect if you need to keep either warm or cool down, it breathes and doesn’t need a wash every day. There are so many great colours and designs available now too, perfect for travelling.

Over your base layer you should wear a comfortable shirt, sweatshirt, mid-layer fleece or cardigan, again a light fabric which breathes is best. Something that you can take off and put on easily if the weather changes during the day. Choose something which you can roll up and put in a day pack easily.

For your top layer we recommend a waterproof jacket which doubles as a multi purpose top layer. Many modern jackets look really stylish and are equally suitable to wear for dinner in one of our favourite regional restaurants as well as when you’re out enjoying a short walk or activity on tour.

My top tip for guests is to pack clothing and colours which work with each other. A nice combination of base layers and jackets will give you lots of flexibility.

Your accessories are important too, hats, gloves and scarves. You may not need all your winter woollies on our Summertime in Northland trip for example, but if you’re on our Southern Odyssey in Autumn you should make sure you’ve got everything packed.

MoaTours guests dressed for summer at Giant's House Garden on Banks Peninsula

Don’t forget sun protection

We all remember our childhood days of spending hours and hours out in the sun without any sunscreen or hats, but that’s not such a smart idea now. We even used to call it “suntan lotion”, instead of “sunblock”.

You’ll find sunblock on our coaches and your Kiwi Guide will carry some too, but make sure you have your own sunblock in your day pack so you’ve got some on hand whenever you need it.

Hats are important, a wide brim hat will give you much more protection from the sun than a cap. Long sleeves and collars offer much more protection for your arms and neck.

Don’t forget your sunglasses, lip balm and sunblock too.

MoaTours guessed dressed for the sun at Cape Reinga

Choose your footwear wisely

Your footwear is really important and will play a big part in how much you enjoy your tour, so take the time to find and bring the right footwear.

We recommend two pairs of decent shoes. One pair of sturdy shoes suitable for walking, the “hiking shoes” style from retailers like Macpac are ideal, or a pair of comfortable walking shoes that you’re used to and know are comfortable for you. A pair of general purpose shoes that you could also use to walk along a trail or in a garden can be handy as a backup just in case your first pair gets wet or muddy.

If you’re on a tour over summer or one which visits lots of beaches, like our Aotea Great Barrier Island Escape, pack some sandals too.

My footwear tip for guests is to make sure you’re used to the shoes you plan to bring on tour. If you need to buy new shoes, do it with enough time to get used to them before your trip. It’s always a good idea to bring some band-aid or blister pads if you are travelling with brand new shoes, just in case.

MoaTours guests at the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook National Park

Is there a dress code? Do I have to dress for dinner?

One thing we love most of all at MoaTours is “getting off the beaten track”, which means you’ll be visiting some pretty special, remote corners of our country. And the further off the beaten track you get the more relaxed the dress code gets.

As a rule, people dress pretty casually on tour and this includes when we go out for dinner. You don’t need to pack special clothing for dinner, clothing that you can also wear during the day while travelling will be fine.

There may be some exceptions to this such as special occasions like Christmas Day, at the Hawkes Bay Art Deco Festival and World of WearableArt Awards Show.

To help you work out how people dress, take a look at the photos on this page of guests on tours last season enjoying walks, activities and meals.

MoaTours guests enjoying dinner at Punakaiki Resort

Packing list for New Zealand Senior travel

Here’s our recommended packing list for any of our New Zealand small group tours.

Click here to download and print our packing list.

Packing list for New Zealand Senior Travel from MoaTours

Less is more with packing

What I always tell guests when I’m helping people get ready for a tour, is to keep it light. As long as you have important things like medication, follow the guidelines on our packing list and be sure to pack the essentials like socks and underwear, you’ll be fine.

Most guests fit all their clothing in a small or mid sized suitcase which makes it easy to carry through airports and also easier for our Kiwi Guides to pack into the coach at the start and end of the day. As super human as all our guides are, they always appreciate a nice small suitcase.

MoaTours guests and local guide on Ulva Island, Stewart Island

Choose the right luggage

We recommend you bring two bags on your trip. One is your suitcase or main bag, many of our guests have their favourite bag or suitcase with many travel memories on the clock, you know which one we mean.

Just make sure it’s a small or mid sized suitcase, one that you could pick up or wheel yourself if required.

For your second bag we recommend a day pack, one that you will carry with you throughout the day and on the coach. You can keep things like your valuables, essential medication, a jacket and water bottle in here with you.

It doesn’t have to be a day pack, it can be one of your favourite bags, but as we’re often in and out of the coach exploring gardens, visiting locals at home for lunch or checking into the fun activities, a small day pack which you can put over both shoulders and keep your hands free will come in handy time and time again.

Extras & Accessories

Little extras like medications and accessories are super important, so make sure you get things like prescriptions and any extra little pieces of gear you need in plenty of time.


I recommend travelling with at least two hats, one for sun protection and one for warmth. This may vary depending on where you’re going and at what time of year, but we would recommend this for most people on most trips.

Camera, phone & charger

Super important for capturing those special memories from your trip, make sure you’ve got your spare batteries and chargers.

Facemask & hand sanitizer

In the post Covid world, these are necessities for any trip. Pack two or three facemasks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.


Some of the great off the beaten track spots we visit may not have EFTPOS if you want to pick up that perfect little trip souvenir, so a little cash on hand is always a good idea.


It’s important to make sure you have any important prescriptions for the duration of your trip. And anything else like an Epi-pen or inhaler which you require. Please include any medical conditions and other important health information on your pre tour booking form.


This will depend on which tour you join, but if you’re visiting any hot springs or beaches in summer you will need your togs!


A refillable water bottle, walking poles, motion sickness pills can also be handy.

MoaTours guests enjoying a soak in the hot pools at Lake Rotoiti

What NOT to pack for your trip?

Something we don’t often think about is what we shouldn’t pack for a trip.

A couple of items you can leave at home:

  • A big umbrella. If you’ve got a small compact one which fits into your day pack, bring this along for sure, but don’t worry about a big umbrella, we’ve got those on board our coaches for you anyway.
  • Your best going out clothes; smart casual is the way.

Get in touch

I hope this helps you with your packing for your upcoming trip. Many people find it useful to print off the packing list and tick off the items as you pack them.

Someone said something to me long ago which I still remember, travel is enjoyed three times. When we’re getting ready for the trip, when we’re on the trip and when we look back at our memories from the trip. Making sure you have everything you need beforehand gets you thinking about your trip beforehand and will also enhance your enjoyment on the trip!

If you have any questions at all about what to pack for your trip with us, feel free to get in touch with me or any one of the friendly team here at MoaTours. We look forward to chatting and are happy to help.

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