backpack or suitcase, what to take to New Zealand – backpacking tips

Which backpack or suitcase is perfect for your trip to New Zealand

In preparation for your New Zealand trip, the question is always about the right luggage. Do you prefer a backpack or suitcase, or a mix of both? As so often the answer is, it depends. It depends on your travel style. If you want to hike, experience nature and sometimes hitchhike, then a decent backpack is the best choice in our experience. If you want to arrive and buy your own car immediately, then you can also consider taking a suitcase. And for those who can’t decide, there are also backpacks that have wheels and so are both backpack and trolley. Remember that your backpack or suitcase is your most important asset for the time of your trip. So please do not save in the wrong place but consider what makes sense and suits you well.


How big should my backpack or suitcase be

The size of the backpack or suitcase should not be too big. If it's too big, you're tempted to pack too much unnecessary stuff. Ideal are backpacks with 45 to a maximum of 65 liters. It is also practical if the backpack has access like a suitcase from the top. This makes it easier for you to get your things packed up. A good compromise of size to weight is a backpack with 55 + 10 liters.

If you take a suitcase or trolley you should also be careful not to have too much space. First you have to pull (or carry) the suitcase behind you. Secondly, you have to store the suitcase too, depending on the size, it will not be easy to store in the car. We decided against suitcases for practical reasons, in our opinion a backpack offers too many advantages.


What should I look for at a backpack?

The most important thing about the backpack is a nice and comfortable wearing. This also means that you should not buy your backpack on the Internet without trying how it feels on your back. We received excellent advice from Globetrotter*. At Globetrotter  you can also try backpacks with weight. Also try what your back says after 30 minutes of wearing. If you've tried the first few backpacks, you'll quickly notice what feels comfortable to you and what doesn’t. Of course you can also buy a backpack at Decathlon or any other outdoor shops. But always try before you buy, your back will thank you.

Recommended post:  Flight Cancelling, Rights & Duties - Backpacking Tips

Pay attention to a stable back and a good fit, let you show how to adjust the backpack correctly. This makes carrying the backpack much easier. Ideally, you travel with about 10 to a maximum of 12 kilos in the back pack.

In addition, you can buy a smaller backpack as a daypack, this should have between 25 – 35 liters of volume, which is enough for everyday life in New Zealand.


Backpacker in the forest

Backpacker in the forest


Why not take a big backpack

From big backpacks over 65 liters, we can only advise against, there is usually no reason to carry such a large load of luggage in New Zealand. Because of the big space, you are forced to take more unneccessary stuff than you would normally take.

And for women, there are some women's models of backpacks, these have an adapted back shape and are sometimes much more comfortable. Give it a try when testing.


Where can I find a good backpack

We bought our backpacks from Globetrotter and Decathlon. Both have a pleasant selection and also make it possible to try on the backpacks. Of course you can also buy the backpack in another outdoor or sports shop. But try and don’t buy without testing.


Colors, designs and extra features of the backpack

In addition to a great mix of colors and designs, there are also a few nice features that make the backpack even more enjoyable. With our backpacks you could not just get up close to the stuff. In addition, there was a small compartment at the bottom and access via the side facing away from the back. This allows easy access almost like a suitcase.


Important rules for your backpack

With normal constitution, muscle mass and health, your backpack should weigh no more than a quarter of your body weight. Especially trained people may also be able to carry something more (maximum one third of the body weight). The heavy weight you shouldn’t wear for long periods permanently, otherwise your body can thereby suffer back and joint damage. Also make sure that most of the weight is on the hips and not on the shoulders. The distribution is ideally 30% weight on the shoulders and 70% on the hips.

Recommended post:  Wwoofing experiences from 3 months New Zealand - Guest Post


Prepare the backpack properly for the flight

Since you usually give your backpack normally as a carry-on luggage for the flight, it is important to pay attention to a few things when packing. Pay attention to the maximum permitted weight of the airline for a piece of luggage, usually around 20 kg, a weight that you should normally not even approach. A protection for your backpack is also important, ideally you take a transport bag which protects all straps and cords as well as the outside of the backpack. We have had good experiences with the transport bags from Globetrotter*, but of course there are some at other retailers (for example, transport bags at Amazon *). The low budget option is to wrap up with your rain cover or wrap around with a roll of cling film, but the rain cover is useless if damaged and the cling film is not environmentally aware enough. Our recommendation is therefore clear for a transport cover because you can use it every time you fly.

Before leaving the airport you should close all straps and close all buckles.

To protect your luggage, you should put more sensitive items in the middle of the backpack, less sensitive items on the outside of the backpack. So you have a natural layer of insulation from garments and other insensitive items.


Questions, comments or ideas

Questions, comments or ideas? Then please be so kind and leave us a comment under this article. Many Thanks!



* Marked links are affiliate links. If you buy or use a product or service via such a link, we will receive a commission for it. You support our work here on the blog. Thank you!


Ask us anything

We run this blog so you can have a great time in New Zealand. All the articles and videos are free for anyone.

If you want to ask an individual question about Newzealand, your working holiday or anything else around travelling New Zealand, then this is your chance.

Even it always looks like holiday, this website and the project is a fulltime business. So you can support us with any question if you'd like.

Simply click the button and ask us, in exchange for your answer you can give what you value our time.

If every visitor would support us with 1€ per year, our business would be up running for long times. Therefore we count on your support!


A big thank you from the depth of our hearts. Julian & the team of Project-Newzealand

Ask us anything

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.