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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

  4.52 out of 5 (from 4879 reviews)

Rimu is Wonderful - A few tips if you plan to go...

My husband and I took the Rimu trip in early November 2016 and had a really terrific time. I encourage everyone who is seriously considering the Rimu to go ahead and sign up. That being said, with all of the fun we had, I do wish we had known a few things ahead of time. I include these tips for you, the soon-to-be Rimu traveler, to make your trip more enjoyable. However, I can promise that even if you do none of these things, you will still have a marvelous time:

1. Guys, if you opt to snorkel with the fur seals be sure to shave your mustache before you leave home. It seems obvious now, but it never occurred to my husband that the mask wouldn’t seal properly to his face with his mustache. Do yourself a favor and shave it off or spend the afternoon dealing with a leaky mask.

2. I also wish I had known just how intense and challenging the 3-day multi-hike through Nelson Lakes would be. If you’re an office worker and occasional hiker like me, then I encourage you to take this trip but do lots of practice/fitness training in advance. Load up your pack and get on the stair-master or start climbing really steep hills. The hike is gorgeous and worth it, but I can promise you it will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re in good shape for it. Also, there are no showers at the huts and only latrines (port-a-potties) for toilets, so bring baby wipes for exactly the same reason you would use them on a baby (wink wink). And also bring hiking poles! I know it says optional on the gear list, but I really found them to be essential. As for the water bottle – leave that at home and invest in a good water bladder system (a “Camelback” or similar). We found the water bottle to be a hassle to take in and out of the bag (forcing us to stop each time), which made us want to drink less water. The water bladders allow you to keep moving and you’ll find you’re more hydrated.

3. The sea kayaks (and, honestly, New Zealand in general) are not made for people over 6’ 2” in height (187 cm). Watch your head everywhere you go, and as for the kayaks, it may help to have the taller person sit in the front seat of the kayak instead of the back.

4. Also, pack enough clothes for a week and then expect to do laundry. Bring some travel-sized laundry soap packets to help save money and make sure you have enough 1$ and 2$ coins for laundry before you get to the hotel (the machines are generally pretty expensive: about $3 for the washer and between $3 - $5 for 30 minutes in the dryer).

5. Bring good cycling shorts – yes, the ones with the weird-feeling padding on the bum. It will help prevent the dreaded ‘grumpy grundle’.

6. And finally, a heads-up to my fellow outgoing introverts (yes, we exist): this trip contains long days of social interaction (think 7:15 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.), with few breaks for introspection/solitude. If you need some down time, skip dinner or unfurl all of the emergency blankets and build your own fort at the back of the bus and hang a sign that says, “Stay Out!” (just kidding about that last one).

A great big thank you to our guides, Rachel and Jordan, who were informative and helpful beyond measure. How they managed to remain cheerful and engaging considering they had to do all of the exertion we clients had to do, plus all of their work on top of it, is beyond me. They are the embodiment of Kiwi hospitality! We are already thinking of coming back for a North Island tour sometime soon.
Lauren Gerth Review Image
– Missouri, United States
Rimu, November 2016
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