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Ready to Go to New Zealand
What to Pack

There is no such thing as taking too little, although it's hard for us to convince students that this is true. Just ask someone who has studied abroad before, and you'll probably be advised to leave as much as you can at home.


"Pack everything you might need, then take half of it out," was one student's advice. It will be there when you get back. Let practicality be your guide for packing. Keep in mind that overseas it's perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit a few times in one week.

If you plan carefully so that all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create plenty of different outfits from a minimum number of items. Also remember that the weather can vary quite a bit throughout the day and from town to town. Choose clothes that are good for layering.

The leave-half-behind rule

You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. You will be limited to one piece of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the international flight (more checked luggage will incur fees). Contact all of the airlines you will be flying with for their regulations on baggage weight, size, and fees.

  • USE A DUFFEL BAG with wheels or a good, internal frame BACKPACK. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won't necessarily know where to put it. No one has ever complained about taking too little luggage.

  • We'll say this in a more serious way. Neither Arcadia University nor our group flight carrier can guarantee the immediate transport of more than one piece of stowed luggage and a carry-on piece.

  • Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off busses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms.

  • Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you're packing.



The weather in New Zealand is extremely changeable.  Apart from the alpine areas, there is rarely snow in the winter, but it can be windy, damp and dreary at any time of the year. The temperatures drop as you travel south over the country. Nights in the South Island can be particularly cold.

Auckland has an average maximum of 75F in summer and 59F in winter. Wellington has an average maximum of 68F in summer and 54F in winter, and Christchurch has an average maximum of 71F in summer and 52F in winter. Dunedin has an average maximum of 66F in summer and 52F in winter.

New Zealand's seasons are opposite of those in the United States. Summer in New Zealand is from December to February. Autumn lasts from March to May. Winter is from June to August. Spring spans September through November.



Practical and sturdy clothes that are good for layering, to accommodate the changing temperatures, are what you need for your stay in New Zealand. Students arriving in the July semester will need warm sweaters to wear indoors. On campus, students dress casually: jeans, t-shirts and other informal clothing are popular student attire. In summer, it is acceptable to wear shorts, t-shirts and light footwear. Here's a basic list of things to take:

  • A raincoat with a warm lining (detachable is best) or waterproof Patagonia or Gore-tex jacket.

  • Bring a lighter weight jacket, windbreaker, raincoat or jean jacket.

  • Jeans/ Khakis or lightweight trousers -- bring at least two pairs.

  • Two or three pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sturdy, lace-up shoes are a good choice for fieldtrips and bushwalking. A couple of pairs of casual shoes (loafers, Doc Martens) for skirts and trousers.

  • One or Two Dressy Outfits.

  • A couple of cotton sweaters.

  • A warm woolen sweater and/or fleece. Have this handy for orientation even if you are arriving in summer.

  • Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve. Good for layering.

  • Pajamas.

  • A couple of bathing suits.

  • Underwear and socks.

  • One sweatshirt, one pair sweatpants.

  • Umbrella.

  • Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave good stuff at home!

  • Sun screen.

  • A hat. The sun gets hot!!

Returning students also say:

  • Wear comfy clothes on the plane!

  • Take whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.

  • Wear layers to keep warm.

Our advice is to choose things which are easy to keep clean and can be washed and dried at the laundromat. It is very difficult to dry hand-washed items properly in your room, and dry cleaning tends to be much more expensive than in the US.


Other Items


Don't pack them! Save the precious room for something else. New Zealand university residence halls probably won't have hangers, but you can easily buy them after you move in.

Pillows, Comforters (duvets), Sheets and Towels

We suggest you don't bother bringing bed linen unless it is for sentimental reasons. Students at Otago University can pay for a reasonably priced (approx $100 NZD) linen pack on arrival at Dunedin. The pack does not include towels. Ilam Village at Canterbury offers linen packs to all students, Everton Hall in Wellington often hand out linen that previous tenants have left behind, and others find it is easy to buy cheap linen once they are here and know what size bed they have. During orientation, the staff in NZ will advise you where the best places are to get linen.

Hairdryers and other electrical appliances

If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in New Zealand is 240/250 volts at 50Hz (cycles per second). In the US, it is 110 volts at 60Hz. You will not only need an adapter to plug in your appliance, you will also need either a transformer and adapter plug, or a dual voltage appliance which can be switched from 110 to 240 volts. (The difference in the number of cycles means that appliances with motors may not work as well in New Zealand as they do in the US.) Most returning students agreed that converters were a hassle and said it was best to buy a hairdryer overseas. If you want to bring one from home, try ones with dual voltage (brandnames include Krupps, Braun, or Conair).

Dual voltage electric shavers can also be purchased here in the US (Philips, Braun and Remington are just a few name brands). Otherwise, plan to either buy an electric shaver in New Zealand or use a blade razor.

Contact lenses

The overwhelming advice is to switch to chemical disinfectants and extended wear lenses, and bring solution from home. Some students report running out several weeks before the end of the program, so you should bring more than you think you'll need. Bring a spare pair of lenses. Also, take along a pair of glasses for emergencies. And don't forget sunglasses!

Disinfecting units are a problem for contact lenses. Because of the difference in voltage, the timer may not shut off automatically. Besides, electrical outlets are hard to find when you're on the road traveling. However, if you can't stand chemicals, try the dual voltage (120/240) unit from Cooper Vision.

Musical instruments and sports equipment

If you play an instrument or practice a sport, you might want to think about taking your instrument or gear along. However, large instruments, such as guitars, and sporting equipment, like skiis or bicycles, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. You'll need to check with the airline for specifications about packing the instrument/equipment and details on any excess luggage charges. Your instrument or gear should be properly insured and safeguarded. Remember that you can also buy or rent sports equipment after arriving.

A backpack and book bag

You'll need a small bag for books and a larger backpack with internal frame for weekend and vacation trips. Remember, larger backpacks will count as one piece of luggage on the flight (you're allowed two pieces); they're too large to carry on. If any student is interested in the outdoors we strongly recommend that they bring a backpack, suitable hiking footwear and a sleeping bag, which you could also use as an extra bed covering. Make sure you pack your sleeping bag inside your luggage, not attached to the outside or as a separate item as it will probably go missing.

A safety pouch or fanny pack

Both of these are safe ways to carry your passport, money and other important small items (like wallets and credit cards, etc.). You can wear the pouch under your coat or sweater--away from the swift hand of a pickpocket. Remember to wear the fanny pack in the front so you can keep an eye on it. (In New Zealand, "fanny packs" are called "bum bags .")


Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag and one backpack will do. Duffel bags are practical and easy to store as long as they're a reasonable size. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it's too big. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and our overseas office address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket. We provide baggage tags with this information at the airport or in your independent travel packet.


If you live in a self-catering residence hall, you may find it convenient to have some of your favorite recipes handy. Photocopy some recipes instead of packing the entire cookbook. You'll save luggage room and weight.

Ipods, IPhones, and Other Electronic Devices

You can buy speakers over there if you get tired of earphones  An ipod is great for the train or bus, however ...

A Special Word about Ipods from Jane Gunn-Lewis, NZ Director

Remember too that when you are in NZ, travelling on public transport or walking on a beach or hiking in the alps, an ipod plugged into your ears can be interpreted as a desire to not link in with the people and place that surrounds you. Sometimes an ipod can be a voice from home that stops you feeling the voice of your new home and by the time you decide you want to talk to the old fellow on the bus next to you, the moment has gone, and a special opportunity to learn something more, or to hear the sound of a bird you have never heard before, or to enjoy the silence, has gone.


A camera will help you to capture your overseas experience. One word of caution, though: cameras disappear. Your Student Safe insurance will offer a limited cover for personal items, but it's a good idea to have it insured from the U.S. Most students bring digital cameras and find they take more photos than usual and so we recommend you bring a decent sized memory chip.

You can buy them in New Zealand but they are more expensive here than in the US -- remember also to bring your charger -- you will need an adapter to use it. It's a really good idea to set up your own website for friends and family to easily access all these wonderful photos.


You'll find everything you could ever want in New Zealand. Don't bring extra supplies with you. Bring a supply of basics to get you through the first month. By then, you'll have found the best local shops for whatever you need.


If you take a prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last your entire stay abroad. Don't assume that you can get the same medication abroad. A prescription from home will NOT be filled in New Zealand. You'll need a new one from a New Zealand doctor. A visit to a doctor is usually about $50 but is much cheaper if you go to the university 'Student Health Centre'. Be sure all prescriptions you take with you are labeled with your name, the name of your physician and the generic name of the medication. PLEASE NOTE: Some medications are only allowed into New Zealand in one- or three-month quantities. You will be advised prior to your departure if any of the medications you disclose fall into either category. Contact your program manager with any questions.

Alarm clock

Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind.

Photos from home

Bring along your favorite photos of family and friends.

Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses

Pack an up-to-date transcript with you from your home university in order to finalize course registration during your host university orientation. Bring any instructions from your home school about registering for next semester's courses from abroad, as well as any information about their approval process for courses taken abroad. Your study abroad advisor's/home school's fax and phone numbers, as well as the e-mail address, will prove to be helpful too, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval.


Packing Tip
You will be moving a lot in the first week of your program -- from Auckland to Rotorua and then to your permanent program accommodation. It's a good idea to keep toiletries, a change of clothes, something warm, a light rain jacket, and your camera in your carry on so that you don't have to keep packing and repacking your luggage.

Security and Insurance

The Arcadia University College of Global Studies supports the guidelines described in "Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines" for program sponsors, participants and parents by the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad. (complete text of these guidelines).

A little common sense goes a long way.

Do not bring any valuables which promote theft and cannot be easily replaced. Put identification labels inside each of your bags (not just on the outside). We also recommend that you leave a photocopy of the data page of your passport (passport number, the date and place of issue) at home and keep a copy with your belongings in case it is lost or stolen.

The Student Safe insurance you will have while in New Zealand does provide limited cover for items, but you may be required to provide proof of purchase. To insure more expensive baggage and personal effects inexpensively, investigate adding a rider to your family's homeowners' policy or purchase personal possessions insurance. Arcadia University does not insure your possessions against loss or theft, but you can and should. Some other valuable tips to protect yourself include:

  • Leave irreplaceable items of high monetary or sentimental value at home.

  • Do not carry a lot of cash.

  • Use safes in hotels and hostels.

  • When you are traveling wear a neckpouch with your money and passport in it inside your coat or clothing. 

  • Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes target tourists and other unsuspecting newcomers. Be very careful to protect your belongings, especially during the your first few days in the country.


Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas

If you pack carefully, you will be able to fit all that you need within the airline baggage allowance, which is ONE checked piece 23 kgs/50lbs and one carry on of 7kgs/15 lbs. Note that one additional bag is likely to be $50 USD and two additional bags $225 USD so try and pack light. We strongly recommend against your planning to have things sent to you after you settle in overseas. Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent overseas. Import taxes, even on used items, can equal or exceed the original purchase price of the items.  If you must have extra things sent to you, please pay special attention to the following notes. Shipping overseas can be very expensive, so you may want to comparison shop to find the best rates.

Also, you will have to mark all boxes "Contains Personal Belongings" to avoid customs charges. Nothing can be sent to general university addresses or to our Queenstown office. The Arcadia University Queenstown office has no facilities to handle packages or to store luggage in advance of the program starting date.

If you are planning to fly over early to travel, you can arrange to store your heavy luggage in the airport. Ask your program manager for more details.