Mistakes I Made While Backpacking In New Zealand

by stephmylifetravel

There’s no perfect way to travel, and even if you backpack full-time you’re always learning new things and making simple mistakes on the road. Our trip to NZ was no different, I made a few rookie backpacker mistakes and I also remembered the nice things about backpacking that I had forgotten while we were in Australia. I’m going to share with you the things I learned on our trip and give you some backpacking advice for New Zealand.

I Packed Too Much…

For our first proper backpacking trip in 11 months it was inevitable that I was going to make a mistake when packing. I learned so many great packing tips and tricks for cutting down on weight while we travelled in Asia (that’s what visiting 13 countries in 10 months will do!) but it seems packing well is a ‘use it or lose it skill’.

Mistake #1: Not checking the forecast

I packed for the season and not for the forecast. Always check the forecast!!! Even if you’re going somewhere in the high season you still might end up with a few cold or rainy days and you need to be prepared. One quick look at our itinerary and the weather forecast could have told me exactly what I needed to bring with me, but instead I packed my clothes based on what I liked. I ended up not bringing enough hiking gear and too many light summer outfits that weren’t right for the weather. A lot of my clothes weren’t worn, and I even ended up buying a couple of jumpers and jackets in Wellington as the weather was so cold. I ended up spending money I really didn’t need to spend and adding even more weight to my already bulging bag.

Mistake #2: Overpacking

I brought far too many toiletries. Why did I bring false eyelashes backpacking? Why did I bring 5 different face creams? I was going for TEN DAYS! I think I actually have an excuse here in that we had moved out of our flat the day we left for NZ so I had to bring everything I had been using for the past week along with what I needed while we were away. Still though, before we leave for Asia next week I’m doing a full revision of my toiletry bag. And I’m going to cut down on the face creams.

Mistake #3: Bringing new, unworn clothes

 This was one I made when we first left London to go travelling – I packed clothes I hadn’t worn before. In my experience if you don’t wear it at home then you’re not going to wear it on your trip. This obviously doesn’t count for new holiday bits you pick up, but for those things in your wardrobe that have tags but you’ve never gotten around to wearing, so you chuck them in your bag and figure you’ll find an occasion while you’re away. You probably won’t, because there is a reason that you don’t wear them. And in my case that reason is that they don’t fit, but were on sale and too much of a bargain not to buy.

Click here to read my backpackers packing guide and find out what you need to pack!

I Brought The Wrong Gear

Having the right kit in your backpack can make travelling a lot easier and more comfortable – it can also save a ton of space in your pack. There are so many things in my pack that I could not travel without and my travel towel was one of the most useful backpacker items I bought before we left! I was using a LifeVenture towel that I picked up on Amazon which is your standard issue super thin, super light microfibre towel. For some reason I decided to swap that out for what I thought was an upgrade….

I spotted this towel in Kathmandu that apparently has the quick drying benefit of a microfibre but the softness of a normal towel and I decided I had to have it. Sure there was the obvious issue with it being much larger than my old towel, but it was so SOFT! Plus I loved the blue and white stripes.

Let me tell you, this towel is not for backpackers. It is the single most high maintenance thing I have ever owned. Every single leaf, twig or piece of dried grass that goes near this towel will stick to it like it’s been attached with super glue. Even washing won’t get the stuff off.

Every trip to the beach was followed by an hour of picking little bits of grass embedded in the towel and praying to god you didn’t accidentally drop it on the floor and have to start again. Also rather bizarrely the blue and white striped colour attracted so many bees that we couldn’t sunbathe on the towels.So they’re off to the charity shop and we’re going back to our reliable standard microfibres.

So what I learned is, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!

Sightseeing alone is fun!

As the trip was only 10 days in total and since there is SO much to do in NZ, we had a lot of our trip mapped out before we left. Not necessarily booked but we had most of our transport planned and idea of what we would be doing each day. Four days into the trip Tim became very ill with a chest infection and all of our plans went out the window.

For the first few days he couldn’t leave our room apart from to travel from A to B, so while he slept I spent time on my own. I wandered around new cities with my camera and a list of things I wanted to see, I chatted to new people, and spent a little time being a solo traveller. I loved it!

When travelling as a couple it’s hard to carve out alone time and you get very used (probably too used) to having someone to do things with. It’s nice to head off on your own and have a day or solo exploration.

Click here to see some of the things we did in New Zealand!

We have a great time together no matter what we do

After we got past the initial denial stage of Tim being ill and faced the fact that he wouldn’t actually ‘be better in the morning’ like we were saying every day, we decided to scrap our plan for Queenstown. Tim wasn’t able to do much but sleep and rest which is not ideal in the ‘adrenaline capital of NZ’.

We had a camper rented and prepaid so we decided to just hit the road and see where we ended up. Everyone raves about the NZ scenery and this way we could take in the beauty of the southern island but Tim could keep warm and sleep when he needed.

When Tim wasn’t asleep we chatted, we listened to our favourite songs, and pulled over to admire the scenery anytime we felt like it as we weren’t in any rush to get somewhere. My favourite part of the entire trip was hitting the road and enjoying each other’s company. It reaffirmed that I am travelling with my best friend! It’s easy to get caught up in plans and itineraries when you travel but sometimes it all goes tits up you realise that you can have a really good time not doing very much at all.

I hope this has been helpful! Have you learned any lessons from previous trips? Share them with us in the comment section below!

As always, thanks for reading!

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1 comment

Dearbhaile December 18, 2018 - 7:21 pm

I totally agree – for me the best part of travelling New Zealand was the scenery in between destinations! I only wish I had had my own transport instead of relying on public transport – I took a lot of photos out a bus window!


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