What to pack for 3 weeks in New Zealand with Kids

What to pack for 3 weeks in New Zealand with Kids

We have recently returned from three weeks touring New Zealand in a small campervan. It was the first time we had travelled in a van as a family, we are reasonably light travellers anyway but we knew that we needed really travel with the bare minimum this time.

Now that we are back I thought I’d share with you what we packed and did we get it right? As well as a few packing tips!

Weather in May & June

We visited New Zealand during late Autumn. The weather during these months varies greatly. We spent 10 days in the South Island and it was really quite cold. Day time temps ranged from around 5 degrees to 8 degrees and at night it would fall to 0 degrees and below (it was -7 degrees in Queenstown). The North Island was warmer during the day with highs off around 14 degrees and at night it didn’t drop below freezing (that I know).



This goes with saying really, you won’t get far without it. Side note – ensure that you have the correct validity and appropriate visas for any country you are visiting!

Travel Documents

I have to admit we are a bit old school when it comes to travel documents, we like to have paper copies of our travel insurance documents, booking confirmations etc. We like to think of ourselves as fairly eco friendly travellers and it pains me to waste paper but I like to have a backup!

Prepaid Credit Card

We don’t go anywhere without a prepaid credit card. They are invaluable for security and for sticking to that all important travel budget. We got ours from Eurochange this time, they are free of charge and you can download a handy app for checking your balance. You can top you using the app as well. The credit card is loaded in the currency you will be using so you avoid those annoying transaction fees.

New Zealand Dollars

We made sure we had some local currency. We didn’t take a huge amount but it’s always handy to have some available should you need it.


Our luggage for this trip was was one 55L North Ridge wheelie suitcase and one 40L backpack. Every thing will read below went into those two bags. We also had two carry on 15L backpacks.

Packing Cubes

We would absolutely NOT have been able to pack everything we had into two medium sized bags without the use of the wonders that are packing cubes! We used two large, three medium and two small cubes. You will be amazed what you can into those things! They are really good for separating dirty clothes and being easily able to locate what you need.


I’ve listed in bullet form below as detailing everything would make for a very long post!

Mr B

  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 3 fleece jumpers
  • 5 t-shirts/shirts (including one thermal shirt)
  • 1 dress shirt – not used
  • 1 pyjamas
  • 1 swimming shorts
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 7 pairs of socks (including walking socks)
  • 1 trainers
  • 1 pair of flip flops (for the showers)
  • 1 Barneys leather jacket
  • 1 Regatta hiking boots
  • 1 beanie hat
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 snood
  • 1 pair of sunglasses

Mrs B

  • 3 fleece jumpers
  • 5 t-shirts/shirts
  • 1 vest top
  • 4 pairs of trousers (including workout pants…no idea why)
  • 1 skirt (not used)
  • 1 pyjamas (we washing during the day and tumble dried)
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 7 pairs of socks (including walking socks)
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • 2 pairs of flip flops (don’t know why I packed two. Only used one pair for the showers)
  • 1 Regatta outdoor jacket
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 beanie hat
  • 1 snood
  • 1 pair of sunglasses

Small Person (7 years)

  • 3 fleece jumpers
  • 6 t-shirts (mixed short and long sleeved)
  • 5 trousers
  • 4 vests
  • 3 shorts (he only wore one pair…once)
  • 2 winter pyjamas (onesies)
  • 2 pairs of trainers
  • 1 Regatta hiking boots
  • 1 Regatta outdoor jacket
  • 1 Regatta waterproof trousers
  • 1 beanie hat
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 set of thermals
  • 1 snood
  • 1 Mountain Warehouse swim shoes (for the showers)
  • 3 pairs of walking socks
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • Lots of pants and socks!


We limited ourselves to one large toiletry bag between us. We chose one that could hang on the shower room doors. What was inside:

  • 2 Deodorant
  • 2 Toothpaste (adults and childrens)
  • 1 Lush shampoo bar
  • 1 bottle of dry shampoo
  • Calpol sachets
  • Paracetamol
  • Cold and Flu tablets
  • Throat Lozenges
  • Tissues
  • 3 x travel sized bottles of shampoo, shower gel and body lotion (we bought more shower gel)
  • Lip balm
  • Brush and Comb
  • Hair wax
  • Hair ties and clips


I packed a small makeup bag (to cover the massive dark circles). I packed foundation, concealer, powder, blush, mascara, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, nail file, tweezers and lip gloss. It was definitely the lightest makeup bag I’ve ever travelled with but it actually made me realise just how little I need.


We don’t have fancy expensive cameras and drones. We generally use our phones for photos and they do us just fine. We had one Samsung Galaxy S9 and one Samsung Galaxy S7.

We also packed our trusty Go Pro Hero 3 and accessories as well as a point and shoot camera for L (he’s a budding photographer).


As we were living in a campervan and using communal bathroom facilities we packed three microfibre towels and a head flashlight (the stylish dog one of course). We didn’t really use the flashlight but the towels were absolute lifesavers. It was really cold in the South Island and regular towels would have taken a year to dry. We also packed a full stocked first aid kit.


As I said above we took two 15L backpacks on the flight. One for L and one for us.

In the small persons backpack was everything but the kitchen sink. Heres what was inside:

  • One zipable lunch bag full of cars planes and anything else he could fit in
  • One full of snacks (raisins, rice cakes, biscuits, Haribo mini bags, lollipops, fruit sticks)
  • Headphones
  • Tablet
  • A colouring book
  • Small pack of markers,
  • Sticker book
  • School work

Our bag basically had everything else we needed! It was pushing the weight limit let me tell you. Here’s the list:

  • Laptop
  • Small toiletry bag (3 toothbrushes, mini toothpaste, calpol sachets, throat lozenges, tissues, antibacterial gel, lip balm)
  • Wet wipes (the best thing we took)
  • Extra Small packing cube (3 clean t-shirts – one for each of us)
  • Two books
  • Paperwork folder (passports etc)

Now I think that’s about it. No doubt I have forgotten something.


Now the all important question. Did we pack too much, too little or did we get it right? The truth is that we definitely had too much. We tended to wear only certain things and most of the campsites we stayed at had a laundry room, so we continually washed the same few outfits. I feel like we got it right with L as we tended to layer him up (it was really cold at times!).

We really could have cut our clothing by at least a quarter to half. Its a valuable lesson for the future. If you can wash and dry clothes it’s worth the hour of your time if it means you’re not falling over a tonne of stuff in the camper.


Use packing cubes

Honestly they will change your life. Don’t scrimp of them though, we bought two cheap sets and the zips broke on at least half of them. Don’t over fill either (leading cause of zip breakage).

Pack layers

Don’t pack the heaviest thickest jacket you can find. Pack thin layers and a wind and waterproof jacket. You WILL regret the ski jacket (unless you are skiing of course).

Use your shoes

It’s amazing what you can fit inside packed shoes. Socks, underwear, camera gear etc.

I think the aim of this post was really to keep it as a reference for the future but I hope that it helps you plan your packing, whether its for vanlife or not. I didn’t want to litter the post with affiliate links so if you’re interested in anything in particular best leave a comment or send me an email.

If you interested in the Campervan that we hired you can find our review here.

Want to plan your own New Zealand adventure, Check out this great Lonely Planet Guide:

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Thanks for reading.

L x

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