New Zealand has a few special moves, take these items to make the most of the environment…
1: A bodyboard/boogieboard
New Zealand has some of the biggest sand dunes in the world, and that means one thing… zooming down them on a sandboard (or bodyboard). They don’t take up much space, and have multiple other uses; picnic bench, backrest, drinks tray, workbench, etc. Plus, if you drive past dunes and see people having the time of their life zooming down them, you’ll thank yourself you remembered to bring one. Buy cheap from supermarkets or Trademe.
2: A cork screw
New Zealand wines are some of the most celebrated in the World, so hopefully you’ll be around a few good bottles on your trip. Passing a winery and dropping by cellar door is a must-do. However, whether you’ve picked up bottles from a vineyard or a bottle-o, a usual scenario will be arriving at the beach at sunset with said bottles only to realise you have no way of opening them. Usually what ensues then is multiple asinine attempts to open the bottles involving knives, forks, shoes, and anything else – which usually end in catastrophic failure, right after you’ve missed the sun go down. So bring a cork screw.
3: Extra auxiliary cords
All our cars have CD players, and most have auxiliary inputs or bluetooth/iPod connectivity, though when you get to your hotel/hostel they may not. However, most accomodation I’ve stayed in NZ did have some kind of stereo system or at least a radio/CD player. If you bring a mini-jack to mini-jack cord you’ll be able to connect your phone, and listen to Mariah Carey all day. Just me?
4: A good book/s
If you’re travelling alone and staying in hostels, you’ll need a good book. Not necessarily to read, but for other reasons, bare with me. There’ll be a lot of moments where you’ve finished cooking and are chilling in the kitchen, or are in the social area thinking about what to do that day. Instead of becoming the anti-social millennial cliché glued to their phone, being at one with a book will allow you to take in your surroundings slowly, as you leisurely sit in a social area with a purpose, relaxed. I’ve found that chilling with a book also makes you more appreciable, while also giving you the perfect excuse to be unsociable should an undesirable backpacker start talking to you. For some reason ‘sorry I’m just into my book at the moment’, goes down a lot better than ‘sorry I’m playing with my phone at the moment’. In addition to this, there’s something fundamentally fulfilling about reading a good novel in a beautiful location, like on the Ahipara peninsular at high tide or on Sandy Bar near Cape Rheinga.
5: A powerbank
As you’re probably aware, NZ has some of the best and most stunning trails in the world. You’ll no doubt be partaking in a few hikes on your trip, whether they’re up Mount Taranaki or across the Coromandel. Some of these hikes will say 3-4 hours on the Lonely Planet guide, but in reality they will last a lot longer especially if stopping for picnics or sightseeing. In this instance your 66% phone battery will undoubtedly die, taking with it your only hope of finding your way back to your car. Unless of course you’re smart enough to cary a paper map. Having a powerbank in this instance could save you from emergency situations, as well as keep up to date with weather patterns.
6: Sturdy Shoes
The aforementioned hikes will require a good pair of shoes. As somebody who has gone through a few pairs of Nike Roche’s, I can say with certainty good shoes will save you money. Even if you don’t love hiking, a lot of the best beaches in NZ will still require a hike to get to. All the beaches either side of Cape Rheinga require at least an hours hike and even down at Piha, the funnest beach there which is complete with it’s own blowhole is a 30min hike south around the volcanic hills.
7: A cool-box
On your NZ trip, you’ll no doubt start to feel the tug of adventure and will drive off the beaten road down the path less travelled in search of a secluded beach or lake. Discovering idilic places in this way is a simple joy and one of the reasons having a hire car is so great. However what’s even better is having a picnic with cool-as-ice drinks in these places. And the only way you can do that is with a cool-box. Many cool-boxes on the market can plug into the 12v sockets in your car too (cigarette lighter), making beach drinks which aren’t as warm as the sand very possible indeed.