"Surviving" New Zealand!
When I had to pack for my trip to New Zealand I struggled a lot. I was choosing my clothes, packing them in my bag and then taking them out when I realized that they don't fit. I decreased the amount of them and started everything from the beginning. I did it at least 4 times. In the end, I just took an extra bag, because I was getting frustrated. Everything seemed really necessary and I couldn't reduce more. I had told that NZ is Craaazzzyyyy expensive. "Your only choice here is Warehouse, but the quality isn't the best" - that's what I heard multiple times. So I came prepared - bought decent hiking shoes, quick dry shirts, sports leggings, rain jackets and dug up some second-hand stores for merino wool jumpers (they are really good for many reasons - but that's another story). When we arrived there was a heavy rain for some days. Our rain jackets really didn't help much. So we had to find something else. After walking around some specialized travel stores I started to understand why people warn me about the prices. But then we found some jackets guess where - in Warehouse of course. Yes, the quality wasn't 5star, but it was good enough for the price. So after a while, some other small necessities occurred and so we browsed some more stores. And guess what happened?! I got so pi**ed off!!! The prices were so reasonable and even cheep in some of the stores we visited that I started to think - Why The Hell I took soooooo many stuff with me! I could start my trip so much lighter, so much more convenient. From the first day, our biggest problem was our huge and heavy bags! Because we took everything with us. Everything!!! I had an impression that I have to think about every small chance of needing something and packed so much "just in case" things. I really didn't want to spend crazy amounts of money in the first month here, so I spent it in Latvia. But now turns out I could take just the most necessary things with me and buy the rest here. There still are some things I am glad I bought at home (and caught the best deals for them) because of the quality for those is quite important. But for the rest - I really wish I knew. So there is not only Warehouse what can save you in basic needs starting from garden gloves (for working in that orchard), towels, homeware and even clothes (decant material sports t-shirt for a man starting from 5NZD (!!!) Cheaper than I would ever find in Latvia). Then we discovered Postie. Store isn't very big, but there are sections for men, women, and kids. I was most surprised about underwear prices. Nice bras starting from 8NZD and panties just for 3NZD. Quality is comparable with H&M. Also, there were wonderful 100% merino wool jerseys just for 25NZD (If only I would know)! Cotton On is another cool store. I even got their loyalty card that give me discounts in other stores. I could name more stores, but you will see for yourself! Another good option is Hospice/Opportunity/Salvation Army/Charity shops as they call Second hands here. There are some quite expensive ones where top will cost more than 12-15 NZD, but don't be fooled and keep looking. More likely the ones outside the city centers will be more reasonably priced. Small towns have their hidden gems as well. I have found places where you pay 1-5 NZD per piece. Sometimes they have discount racks or boxes. You just have to be patient. When we got our first work in the orchard I didn't want to destroy clothes I packed with me, so I just spent 5 NZD for my new work outfit. It wasn't stylish our beautiful, but you will see - nobody cares! And after that, you can throw those things away, because more likely they will be too worn out to use for a long time. Shoes could be the most challenging thing to find in the second-hand shops, but still, sometimes you can get lucky.
Also, grocery store discount cards are very helpful. We have one for New World (just go to the information center and say that you are a traveler who would like to have a discount card - they will give you card with a barcode that will give you all the discounts, but it will not be the same plastic card what locals get), and one for Countdown that will also give discounts in some of the Petrol stations. Anyway - if you live somewhere near Pak N Save - this will be the best choice for reasonably priced food. New World is our least favorite pick for groceries, but sometimes small towns only have this. We tend to look for farmers markets, Indian markets or places where you can buy vegetables in bulk. That will reduce the price per one serving.
For All the girls (and some boys of course) out there planning to come to New Zealand. If you have your favorite cosmetic and skincare brands you use - pack them with you! Most of the European skincare brands what I use isn't available or cost tons of money (like Bioderma, Vichy, Avene and others). As well as most popular cosmetic brands like Loreal, Max Factor, Gosh or Maybelline. They treat them almost like a high-end product here and so are the prices. You can imagine what's with higher-end brands happens here. But remember - this really is the other side of the world! So unless you are ready to try local brands or use cheaper class cosmetic - bring your favorite products with you!
If you color your hair at home, here the hair colors aren't cheap at all (and more likely there is not your brand or color available). Unless you are ready to pay twice or triple as much for one packaging - take some from home. Hairdressers are also verrryyy expensive (at least comparing to the prices in LV at least 7x more) so cut your hair before you come.
Pack your medicine! NZ is expensive! (How many times I have to tell you!? :D) Basic pills like paracetamol, ibuprofen etc. is reasonably priced and you can find them in grocery stores. More specific medicine for a sore throat, bloating, flu etc. is much more expensive. If you have a specific way of healing yourself and favorite creams, pills or other medicine - I highly suggest making your own first aid kit.
What should you pack:
Obvious musts like Passport, Tickets, Printed Visa, Money, Credit cards, Phone + charger (if you have this - you will be okay)
High quality items like - rain jacket, quick dry clothes, sport leggings/ pants/ shorts, hiking boots and sandals, merino wool jumper, fleece jumper, down jacket, sports bra, one pair wool socks (If you plan to stay just few month then adapt this list to the season)
Socks and underwear for one week (not a piece more! You don't need that - trust me)
Sunscreen and a hat (yes, you can buy them here, but you will need them right away!) because of that thin layer of Ozone that can't protect you enough in this country.
Favorite cosmetics, skincare, hair color. Basic stuff (like shampoo, toothpaste etc. for at least one weak - after you can buy all of it here)
Multi functional knife (we used it a lot, just don't put it in your carry on)
Manicure set and tweezers
Reusable water bottle
All the electronic gadgets you will actually use
Travel quick dry microfiber towel
Folder with all documents and copies of them
Day-planer or notebook (because sometimes you just want to lay in a grass and plan your next adventure right there and then)...
It may be weird, but we packed our own pillowcases. You can use them in hostels if the pillows don't look appealing; in case you use your clothes as a pillow it will keep everything in place; in case you will decide to sleep in your car for a while like we did - they came in handy (Of course you can buy them here, but after landing that will be the last thing in your mind. And what can bet better than sleep off your Jet Lag on pillows that still smells like home).
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