How To NZ

Preparation, mobility and gear for a decent NZ fly fishing trip

In case you are interested in condensed first hand insights about how to set up the tools for a NZ roadtrip and about the “how to …”. I will try to give some basic hints here. A big part of such a trip is preparation, decisions, excitement, so I will not tell you every detail.

Transportation in NZ means decisions on two dimensions (you can draw a matrix on that and set up a multi-dimensional decision model): 4WD versus Motorhome and used versus rental.

For me the decision was clear as I wanted to reach some distant rivers that are only accessible with chopper or days of walking or 4WD. And soft-4WD driving is fun! I took some arguments to persuade Ines though.

Some thoughts about the pros and cons of 4WD and Motorhome:

Rental Motorhome:
+ no need to pitch your tent
- expensive (My first calculations ended somewhere around 250NZ$/day even at 100 days)
- inflexible
- Motorhome shouts “tourist!”
- Most of the commercial campgrounds are really awful in NZ (No comparison to USA NF and NP campgrounds)
- so expensive that dining out or a fixed roof / lodge accommodation is not even an option
- being a ‘street maggot’ (van campers are called like that)
- it is very inconvenient to go faster than 100km/h

- even 50km of dirt road with nice stutter bumps is not fun

(depending on the rental company – I can provide further advice and guidance – contact me!):
- need to find accommodation or a camp site / setting up the camp takes around 30 minutes longer than moving to a flat
- you are not self-contained, thus freedom camping will be limited
+ flexibility
+ mobility
+ locals start to greet you, thinking you were local – as long there is no rental company sticker on the car (remove it!)
+ in case of camping cheaper than a motorhome and in case of a 100-150NZ$/night accommodation close to a motorhome
+ additional equipment such as roof box possible
+ easy to navigate – curbs are no obstacle
+ the chance to rent a cottage / flat / suit once in a while with a real kitchen / bathroom / bed (if you pay 250 a day for the motorhome you probably will never consider that option)
+ option to dine out

+ safer driving

Ok I am 4WD biased… juts some thoughts.

Buying a used versus rental, issues to consider:
  • time to buy and to sell
  • seasonal price development – buying when everybody does and selling when everybody does…
  • used cars are rather expensive in NZ – high volume of money needed, e.g. for a decent sub 10 year old motorhome easily up to 100k. If that loses just 20% in value you end up with 20k plus service and spare parts…
  • time lost due to repair (can happen with rental as well! Not good!)
  • Insurance and registration / time and money (not as bad as in USA – information on that via Google)
  • knowledge about cars and the local market / danger of rip of
  • probability to come back after a year or share with friends / possibility to store a bought care somewhere with friends in NZ 

Traveling on a budget with lots of time: used!
Traveling with family and fixed schedule: rental!

In case you want to rent a 4WD give me a call/mail - I can help you with that!

Equipment – I am a junky on that


What to bring from home (Take care everything is clean! Biosecurity/Didymo!):

  • Fishing gear (two 4-pice rods/reels of 5-6 AFTMA 9' per person and one spare line is enough!)
  • Clean waders! (You might need them – wet wading in rain at 10°C will pretty much kill you!)
  • Very clean NON-felt sole boots!
  • Some tying gear (yes it worked three times for us! As long as it is clean Biosecurity should not be a problem, just take some, no expensive caps and avoid any skin/scalp!)
  • Camping stuff that is reasonable good and light (such as cookers or camping cooking sets in case you have it, else buy it in NZ at Kathmandu, Outside, R&R Sports, ...)
  • Sleeping bag (Yeti!) and light inflatable mats if you have high quality already – otherwise buy at Kathmandu eg.
  • Small rather expensive light tramping tents you might already have
  • Less clothes than you might imagine to be needed – but take gear for hot and very cold weather. Take pieces that can be used in combination (e.g. we used two warm tights to compensate for our too light sleeping bags… Excellent icebreaker stuff can be bought in NZ!)
  • Technical gear such as battery chargers, cables, cameras, lenses, tripods, notebook, external storage, memory chips, enough spare batteries for everything, ipads, ipods, headlights, camplights, bits and pieces, handpresso, …
  • Pretty much everything can be bought in NZ at or below European prices. Be aware though of the the luggage limitations on the flight back (In case you go back).

What to buy or get from the car rental company (buying might be cheaper!):

  • Big car camping tent (Look for sale and membership at Kathmandu! Ours was a used second with one defect zipper reduced from 1000 to 300, on sale you could get the same one for 550NZ$)
  • Cutlery and camp kitchen equipment (wooden plate, pans, plates, ‘Melzerzange’, bowels, cutlery, big bread-knife, plastic plates, plastic wine glasses, some boxes, but no bottle opener needed …) buy what you want to – readily available at most of the larger Supermarkets and The Warehouse and very cheap! For 100 to 150NZ$ you have everything you need. Invest some $ in the fork and knife you hold in your hand while eating the 40$ rack of lamb!
  • Camping chair and table - The Warehouse (total of well below 100NZ$)
  • Cooker – Invest 100$ for a two burner and a 4kg or 2-3kg LPG bottle that can be refilled or swapped at many gas stations. Much better than the tramping gas cookers (but you have them for backup and while tramping!) - The Warehouse, LPG bottle and cooker possibly from the car rental company
  • Storage boxes – one of the most important components: 40l storage boxes from The Warehouse with lids. We bought eight of them (3 for clothes/one per person, one each for technical stuff, food, kitchen tools, fishing gear, wet fishing gear) - The Warehouse (eight of them plus chilly bin, stroller and Kraxe fit well in the back of the Prado)
  • Chilly bin or ice chest or cooler: get a 40liter one – spend some money or get it from the rental company. You can buy 3kg of ice at every gas station of supermarket. This allows you to stock up with three to four days of fresh food. - The Warehouse
  • Landing Net with a scale in the handle - fishing store
  • Didymo cleaning kit (brush, bucket, sprayer, 1liter cheap dish washing liquid)!
All of the above mentioned items – shopped with some luck and good eye and arrangement with the rental company – should be not more than 500-600NZ$ in total.

If you pack wisely and distribute it well you will end up with 30-40kg per person. Either you fly business, have a Star Alliance Gold status or try to take care of the excess luggage as “Sports luggage” – you can handle that. If you end up with a +15kg hand-bag – make it small, do not let anybody realize that it is so heavy… It worked for me every time. The flight company that does your very first leg and checks in luggage to the final destination is in charge of the luggage regulations. So know their rules!

Use soft shell expeditions bags (sturdy Patagonia – 1500gr of sturdy bag for around 110liters of volume) for your luggage (good on chopper flights too), have the 4-piece rods inside the tubes, cross-pack gear between persons traveling (so if one luggage arrives late you are still ready to go), use readable / printed address tags with the destination address that might be a few days ahead of your arrival date and home address clearly indicated. 

And don’t forget: you can buy everything in NZ that you might have forgotten - it is not Bolivia ; ). 

Take less than you intended! Less items means less complexity in your vehicle! You can do your laundry in most good cottages or at most of the non-DOC campgrounds.