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Packing list for a day hike in New Zealand

You're off on a day hike, up Ben Lomond in Queenstown.

Image of Hiking to the summit of Ben Lomond, Queenstown

Things to consider – And I've answered each for this example!

  • How long does this hike take on average? 5-7 hours
  • Is there any altitude gain? Yes: 4,686ft or 1428m
  • What is the weather forecast? Well, it’s spring, so the conditions are changeable. Forecast is for high cloud and a light breeze with a temperature of 60F or 16C down in Queenstown. We can safely say it will be colder up top as the wind will be stronger!
  • Will there be running drinking water at hand? No
  • Are you going by yourself? Yes
  • Would you classify it as remote (is there likely to be other hikers, or mobile reception?) Yes, probably to both.

So what to pack? And bear in mind, on that sliding scale I’d classify myself as a fairly organized packer!

Day Pack: Probably the most essential piece of equipment – you’re not exactly going to carry everything in a green supermarket bag. Unless of course you’re a full-on minimalist!

What comes next, in terms of importance is debatable. My Dad, ever the wise one, would say a rain jacket. I’d be more inclined to say a water bottle or even a charged mobile phone (different generation!)

Water bottle: There isn’t much I can say about this, except, that if you care about the environment, don’t buy a pump bottle, but get something you can reuse for the rest of your life. If it has a loop in it that will help too, for securing on the outside of your pack, if you like things dangling off.

Charged Mobile Phone: Some would scoff at this. But for most day trips, you’ll likely be within mobile reception. You will appreciate this advice if you happen to end up in strife. For those that are into gadgets, you could take it one step further and get a personal locator beacon. These are quickly gaining popularity as they become affordable to the masses. I would probably be more inclined to purchase one of these for a long, remote hiking trip. They come in many shapes and sizes and operate using GPS. Definitely something to keep in mind.

Rain Jacket: No matter what the weather looks like out of your kitchen window, as you’re cooking a hearty meal of bacon and eggs to get you up that mountain, PACK A RAIN JACKET! This cannot be stressed enough. 9 times out of 10, it will stay squashed at the bottom of your pack. It’s not like you’re being asked to pack a brick though. For the purposes of this day trip, I won’t go into specifications – just get one that keeps you dry.

And now in no particular order…

Personal First Aid Kit: I'm guilty of not packing one of these nearly every time. But I don’t want to be responsible to your spouse, parent or sibling when they complain that you ripped your new shirt for a sling. In this I would include any personal medication, sun block and insect repellent, if necessary.

Packed lunch: High-energy and nutritious are the key words. The supermarkets and health stores and even outdoors shops are packed with this stuff now. Don’t be afraid to be traditional with a banana, chocolate and muesli bars. I know I would.

Camera: So that you don’t have to climb that damn mountain again. Or maybe so you can impress your friends and family. Or even, in the unlikely event that you just want to put some nice photos on your fridge. Make sure it’s charged. I once used a camera to take a photo of a cave far below in the valley knowing that it would be dark by the time we reached the general area. We then used the LCD screen to find our bivouac sack (also known as a bivy, bivvy, or bivi) for the night. Again, if you want to get techy, you could also bring a video camera – like a GoPro…

Bearing in mind you only have a day pack, that’s probably the extent of it. You may also want to consider a beanie and/or cap, gloves and sunglasses.

On your body, you’ll have some decent hiking boots or hiking shoes, potentially some gaiters, shorts or zip-off pants and at least a couple of top layers. I also sometimes use hiking poles, although not normally for a day hike.


Trip Reviews

  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 908 reviews)

    Manuka-February 2018

    This is our third Active Adventures trip and we have never been disappointed. Each trip has been a learning experience for us. The beautiful sights and people we have met along the way have made it a very worthwhile event that we will never forget. We enjoyed working with your professional team of staff and guides and hopefully one day we will return for another adventure. Thanks, Steve and Marilyn.
    Stephen Tatham Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Manuka, February 2018
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    Joy Project; New Zealand's North Island

    The Tongariro Crossing was the highlight of my visit of the Northern Island. I felt as though we were trekking on another planet.

    Andrew and Claire shared their extensive knowledge of New Zealand’s culture, land, flora and fauna while offering great music on Dick, the bus and fabulous meals!

    I was asked about traveling to New Zealand alone. I explained I was not alone but traveling with twelve friends I had not met yet. This turned out to be factual.
    Lynn Marie
    Lynn Dulmage Review Image
    – Michigan, United States
    Kauri, August 2016
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    Great trip with fun and knowledgable guides. Accommodations and food were great.

    David Brodie Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Best Trip Ever

    You go hiking, exert yourself, see spectacular views, and you think "this is the best day, it can't get better than this." Then you go kayaking, see wildlife, lush rain forest and red tinted water, all with the backdrop of snow capped mountains, and you think "no, this is the best day, it can't get better this. Then you go biking along a teal colored river and through a birch forest with snow capped mountains ringing a suddenly peaceful lake and you think, "okay, THIS is the best day." And then you drive to Milford Sound, gawk in awe at waterfalls tumbling down towering cliffs along the road and you get to the Sound and you kayak with dolphins, and you come to the realization, "this is my New Zealand trip, every day better than the last," so that on your last day when you are lying beneath the stars, staring at the Milky Way and the Southern Cross, you know you've experienced something beyond special.
    Tanya Karimi Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Rimu, March 2017
  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 908 reviews)

    Whatever the dream, if its New Zealand, find a way!!

    Where do I even start?!?!? NZ has been #1 on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until I realized I couldn't wait forever for that perfect time, to have X amount of money saved, to have a companion to go with me...that I decided to JUST GO ALREADY! And I suggest you do the same! Don't wait another moment. I went alone but found the most wonderful companions I could have ever hoped for! Even got a great roommate. The guides, Claire and Jess were PHENOMENAL! I started crying off and on a few days before the end of the trip because I became that attached to them and knew I would never see them again. Leaving at the airport, I couldn't even speak I was so upset and saying goodbye. So wonderful and beyond knowledgeable! I miss Jess' cooking and Claire's coffee already and I just got back yesterday!!! But seriously folks, the Manuka was beyond what expectations I could have ever dreamed. Yes it was indeed physical, so be ready for that; but there were some flatter, easier options for those that chose to not exert so much energy. There were a couple of times I wanted to just quit, but Claire and/or Jess kept me going saying it would be worth it (for the view AND the accomplishment) and MAN WERE THEY RIGHT!!!

    The food, the company, the knowledge, the laughs, the comradery, the views, the EXPERIENCES....all of it was TOP NOTCH! I have my memories that will last a lifetime; best money I have EVER spent.

    Don't wait! GO! I plan to go back in a couple of years to do the entire Milford Track. That's my only regret is that I didn't spend the extra to do that. But that's on me, not AA!
    June Vidrine Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Manuka, March 2017



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