What’s in my Suitcase – Three Weeks in New Zealand

what to pack for new zealand
what to pack for new zealand
what to pack for new zealand

When it comes to any trip (not including our recent stay in the Maldives), I usually try to ‘pack light’. As a teen travelling to Canberra for a week, I’d fill up a suitcase with clothing, only to find on my return to Wellington seven days later, half the items I brought along with me were unworn. But it’s when you’re travelling for two weeks or more that things can start to get a little… tricky.

But I do love a good challenge, and our first Christmas home since moving to Sydney four years ago made for the perfect excuse to sit down and plan out my vacation wardrobe, keeping it to one suitcase. My strategy is pretty simple; stick to a neutral colour palette, and pick pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways, as the two combined tend to be real space savers, particularly if you tend to find it difficult to narrow down your shoe selection, like I do.

We are spending just shy of three weeks in New Zealand for our summer break, split across Wellington, Auckland and Waipu (a small coastal town north of Auckland), and judging by the ten day weather forecast, we’ll be getting a mixture of sunshine, cloudy days, and a little bit of rain, with temperatures sitting around 19-25 degrees C; not too shabby! So I’ve focused primarily on sticking to some of my summer wardrobe favourites, with a few long sleeved tops and a pair of skinny jeans thrown in for good measure. If you’ve ever spent time in Wellington, then you’ll understand wanting to have a few items you can reach for just in case the weather turns.

Above is a little bit of a sneak peek into my suitcase, which includes a lot of the usual suspects that you may have seen featured in my packing list ahead of our trip to the Maldives, in addition to a couple of wild cards (read: something that isn’t black, white or grey). Not pictured? The five pairs of shoes neatly packed into the zipped-up compartment, and the three sets of workout gear I’ve brought along with me so I can nip out for a quick run, or squeeze in a HIIT workout.

TOPS

J Crew b/w polka dot wrap top
Everlane silk camisole in black and dove grey
RUBY white t-shirt
Grana white pocket tee
Madewell white short-sleeved shirt
Karen Walker indigo linen shirt (similar)
T by Alexander Wang blue/white long-sleeved stripe top
Proenza Schouler b/w graphic print long-sleeved top (similar)
Uniqlo mustard oversized sweater

For the last few weeks I’ve heard from my grandparents about how warm Wellington has been, but honestly after years of growing up in the windy city, I don’t think you can blame me for being a total skeptic. I decided to opt for a mix of short sleeved and long sleeved tops (which I figured I could wear rolled up when it was warm) to create a little bit of balance, so that I wouldn’t be caught out if the weather turned. We’re three days in and already I can tell I’ve made a pretty good judgement – today was incredibly windy so having a snuggly jumper to hand certainly came in handy.

As usual, my preferred colour palette is comprised mostly of black and white, but I think this mustard sweater from Uniqlo helps to break things up a little bit, plus I love the way that this pairs with white in particular.

JACKETS

MVN black faux leather jacket

I’m the type of packer that likes to have a back up plan – particularly when it comes to my travel wardrobe – so I brought along a light weight faux leather jacket. There’s a few cold days due to be coming our way so I figured this would be an easy option to throw on, plus it goes with everything.

SHORTS, TROUSERS & SKIRTS

Topshop white denim mini skirt
Wrangler blue denim mini skirt
ASOS black denim skirt
RUBY khaki a-line skirt (similar)
Dr Denim blue denim shorts
Vintage white denim shorts (similar)
ASOS pink linen culottes
Dr Denim faded black skinny jeans

If you can’t tell from the above list, I seem to be having a little bit of a denim moment. Denim skirts in black, white and blue, two pairs of denim shorts, and a pair of skinny jeans were at the top of my packing list. What I have been loving about denim is how easy it is to throw on, and the fact that it works pretty well for a casual day catching up with friends, or even for some cocktails in the evening (depending on how you dress it up, or down!). I also decided to bring along my favourite pink linen culottes – which I still can’t get enough of – as I figured they would work well in the Wellington wind!

DRESSES

Karen Walker navy ruffle dress
Stylekeepers b/w polka dot dress (also here)
Iro white splatter print silk dress

My usual principle for vacation packing is to always stash a little black dress as the bottom of your suitcase. Rather than go for something classic, I opted to take this black and white spotted number, which can be worn a couple of different ways. I also stashed away a great navy ruffle shift dress which I’ve had for a while now from Karen Walker, and a newer silk dress I managed to pick up pre-loved from The Real Real to have a couple options for a nice meal out in town.

BAGS, SHOES & ACCESSORIES

JW Anderson blue signature logo bag
Celine black trotteur bag
Sportscraft straw hat (similar)
Spurr black mules
Everlane black day heels
Sam Edelman black loafers
Sportscraft sandals
Converse sneakers

Finally, let’s talk accessories. The one thing I seem to have an issue with narrowing down – every, single, time – are shoes. I actually ending up packing many of the same shoes I took with me to the Maldives; a pair of mules, a pair of black enclosed heels, a black of loafers, some slip on sandals, and a throw around pair of lace up sneakers. The second half of our trip, we’re planning to spend a little bit of time at the beach up near Whangarei, so I decided to bring along my straw hat, which I nabbed on sale last Christmas – this has been one of those impulsive purchases that has turned out to be a really great addition to my wardrobe, and perfect for protecting my face from the sun. The last thing on my packing list was a couple of mini bags; these are my bag size of choice when it comes to travelling. I decided to bring along a classic option in black, and then something of a wild card… a new bag I nabbed from JW Anderson during the Black Friday sales in a rich cobalt navy blue. Unfortunately as luck would have it I’ve sent the JW Anderson bag back (it arrived without the leather strap), but my Celine has been a serious workhorse when it comes to weekend wear or more casual outfits, making it the perfect travel companion.

I’m thinking of doing a little wrap up on my YouTube Channel in the new year when we’re back, to talk about what worked for the trip and what didn’t, given we are away for just under three weeks, so let me know in the comments if that’s something you would be interested in seeing! x

Packing for a five day trip away

packing for a five day trip holiday getaway capsule minimal travel

Packing for any kind of holiday is downright difficult; be it an overnighter, a week, or a month away, there’s always that underlying question… ‘did I pack too much, too little, or just enough?’.

Last Wednesday, Luke and I flew to Wellington for a five-night stay to celebrate our engagement with friends and family, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a whirlwind trip – they’re always over too soon!

I’m the type that tries to fly with just a carry-on (and a very large shopper tote), so I try to narrow down my travel-drobe as much as possible. I managed to keep it to just the essentials (even if my make up bag was overflowing a little…), keeping in mind that what little I packed would need to be effortlessly paired together. I find that the most fail safe combination is a neutral palette of black, white, grey and navy, so I focused my suitcase heavily on those four colours.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the weather was *mostly* miserable – Saturday was the exception – so I tried to pack with this in mind. Which honestly, was a little tough given my Spring capsule is so heavily geared toward warmer weather. I ended up swapping out a couple of my shoes for two pairs which were a little more appropriate (my Acne jensens and Charlotte Olympia kitty flats), and packed a couple of pairs of stockings just in case.

The most useful things I packed? A HUGE blanket like scarf and a heavy leather jacket, which were truly a lifesaver against the bitterly cold wind you often get in Wellington. And what I could have done without? The Everlane silk tank I hastily packed and one fewer skirt – outfit repeating (or remixing) is 100% okay, especially when on holiday.

Do you have a formula when you pack for a trip away? Or do you throw the kitchen sink and them some into a bag and hope for the best? x

The one thing

celine cabas tote gusset acne studios canada scarf sheepskin rug

Celine cabas tote w/ gusset, Acne Studios Canada scarf

There’s no arguing the fact that I flew to Wellington completely unprepared. No scarf, no jacket, no coat; just a suitcase full of lightweight skirts, sleeveless tops and oh… a single jumper and a lone pair of jeans. So, as I type this, I’m sitting snuggled up in things borrowed from my mother’s wardrobe – a ruffled tank, a merino wool jersey, and a thick woollen coat-igan – she was always a woman well prepared (and well-stocked) for Wellingotn’s arctic chill.

If there’s one thing I completely and 100 percent wish I’d managed to pack, it’s my Acne Canada scarf, hands down. Mostly because there’s no better excuse to carry around a blanket masquerading as a scarf, than a little bit of Wellington wind.

Packing for a long weekend away

packing for a long weekend away

It was a *little* last minute, but I’m currently en route to Wellington to spend a long weekend (and my birthday weekend at that) with my family. It’s a short and sweet trip; five days and four nights away from home, though I’m hoping that I’ve finally managed to nail the whole process of packing light. I’m only taking a small carry-on suitcase and my Cuyana tote, which should at least help to keep the contents of my suitcase to a minimum. The only thing that really could have held me back? The fact that I had to account for half a day in the office – and a corporate one at that (tip: keep a pair of heels under your desk!). It’s pretty safe to say from my travel capsule below that I took a couple of liberties with the dress code…

I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and it would be just my luck that it would be sunny e-v-e-r-y day, until the day I arrived, so I’ve geared my wardrobe towards rainy Fall weather (because let’s face it, anything below 20deg C is cold). It’s all the usual suspects; grey (and a lot of it), stripes, and my favourite velvet kitty flats.

Tops/Jumpers
Everlane charcoal ryan tank
Acne Studios grey copy linen tee
Equipment black sleeveless silk blouse
T by Alexander Wang l/s stripe top
Country Road grey merino jumper

Bottoms
Nobody navy superskinny jeans
Josh Goot a-line mini skirt
Lover blush a-line leather mini skirt (similar)

Shoes
Charlotte Olympia kitty flats
Stuart Weitzman black suede loafers

Usually, I’d also tuck a pair of Nike Frees in my suitcase somewhere, especially given the fact that I’m completing Kayla Itsines’ BBG; but if my last trip home was anything to go by, I’d be lucky enough to squeeze in even a quick run.

If anything, I think I’ve probably laid the restraint on a little thick, but I guess that’s what mum’s wardrobe is for. It’s a good thing we’re the same size…

Wellington in 24 hours

breakfast stack maranui cafe wellington

Home to excellent coffee, a thriving cafe culture and art scene, and of course that wind, there seemed like no better time to play tourist in my home town that on my recent trip back to Wellington. For those wanting to get a taste of the capital or rediscover it like I have, you’ll find my guide to exploring Wellington in 24 hours below.

Enjoy a lazy breakfast at Maranui. Overlooking Lyall Bay beach, Maranui is hands down one of my favourite spots to breakfast in the capital, and if you’ve been there before, you’ll know why. With a generous selection of cabinet food (which caters to the vegan and gluten-intolerant amongst us) and a hearty brunch menu, there is unquestionably something for everyone. Not to mention that it comes with a view. Maranui is a popular spot for a weekend brunch, so expect to wait 15-30 minutes if you drop in on a Saturday or Sunday.

Ride the cable car and explore the botanical gardens. It wouldn’t be a trip to Wellington without a ride on the iconic red cable car. Take a ride from Cable Car Lane in the city and hop off at the Botanical Gardens which are beautifully manicured and in full bloom at this time of year. Don’t forget to pop into the Glasshouse for the tropical fauna and goldfish pond.

charley noble waterfront lunch wellington
charley noble waterfront lunch wellington

Eat lunch down near the waterfront. With so many restaurants overlooking the harbour, you’re a little spoilt for choice. For something a little upmarket, I’d suggest Shed 5 (my personal favourite) for some of the best seafood in the city, or their sister restaurant ‘Crab Shack’ located next door – although be prepared for the wait, which can be upwards of two hours if you don’t get in early. One street back from the waterfront you’ll find Charley Noble which I’d argue is worth giving up the view for; the service is excellent for one, the meals well-priced, and the food? Excellent.

area 51 shopping wellington

Shop along the ‘golden mile’. Wellington’s small size comes in handy if you’re planning on hitting the shops, particularly if you’re fond of independent boutiques. I like to start at the Arcade at the end of Lambton Quay, which houses favourites such as I Love Paris, RUBY and Workshop, while making my way down to Karen Walker, Service Depot, Kate Sylvester and Twenty Seven Names. Be sure to drop into Good as Gold and Area 51 along the way for a generous selection of New Zealand and International designers. I wrote a couple of short guides to shopping the capital last year if you’d like to take a peek – part 1; part 2.

wellington city gallery art wellington

Drop into the Wellington City Gallery. Easy to miss, however if you get the chance, I’d make a beeline for the Wellington City Gallery. There is always an interesting installation or artist featured, and did I mention that entrance is free? Oh, and make sure that you stop by Nikau Cafe, which is situated on the ground floor for excellent coffee, and a late lunch (I highly recommend the fish kedgeree) if the waterfront options weren’t to your taste.

beach waterfront worser bay wellington

Take in the beautiful scenery. For such a small city, Wellington is absolutely spoilt when it comes to breathtaking views. For those short on time, a walk around the coastline near Oriental Bay (a short walk from Courtenay Place) is a must – if only to enjoy the yachts racing in the water. If you have more time, there are plenty of walks which are easily accessible from the city (a quick google search should prove fruitful), or I’d recommend making the trip out to the eastern suburbs; completely surrounded by water, it’s absolutely idyllic if you’re blessed with a nice day.

WBC drinks dinner interior wellington

Grab an early dinner at WBC. WBC is unassuming, the doorway almost hidden along the well-travelled Victoria St, although once you find it, you’re in for a treat. The menu consists of small plates which are designed for sharing, in addition to larger options if you’re feeling a little more ravenous – and the wine is good to boot. Get in early to grab a seat next to the sun drenched windows and soak in the last hours of the afternoon light.

havana bar drinks wellington

Drinks at Havana bar. Tucked away at the end of Cuba Street, Havana Bar has gone under a bit of a transformation in recent years. Don’t let the view from the street fool you – it is home to some great live music, in addition to delicious tapas, if you’re starting to feel a bit peckish, to while away the night into the wee hours of the morning.

If you have a little more time on your hands, there’s still so much more that the greatest little city in the world has to offer. From the National Museum Te Papa (conveniently located on the waterfront), Carter’s Observatory (a must for aspiring astrologists), and the food, oh the food. For the foodies in all of us, I’ve made a quick list of some of my favourite spots to grab a bite (or a coffee) below. To say that Wellington is spoilt for choice is a bit of an understatement…

Matterhorn – If I’m not grabbing a drink at Havana, it’s likely that Matterhorn will be my second choice. Not only is their joint wine, spirit and beer selection among the most extensive that Wellington has to offer, it’s a great place to catch up with a big group of friends after a hard day at work.

Ancestral – Courtenay Place might be known for its nightlife, but considering I’m not the biggest fan of crowds, I tend to opt for the more low-key options. This bar-cum-restaurant is the perfect antidote to the overcrowded streets, with dim lighting, delicious cocktails, and excellent Chinese food. If you can, grab a seat at the bar outside; the stone slab seating is heated – perfect to combat the Wellington chill.

Olive – I only discovered how good Olive Cafe was just before leaving Wellington; an error on my part! Perfect for a boozy brunch, just make sure to get a seat in the hidden garden bar out the back.

Loretta’s – This is a new favourite, although that didn’t stop me from dropping in twice during my short stay. The space is enormous, and the menu changes daily according to season and what’s available. My kinda place, that’s for sure.

Gipsy Kitchen – This little hole in the wall cafe is great to drop into if you happen to be on your way to Scorching Bay beach. It’s mostly deli style food, but the coffee is good and it encapsulates the distinctive Wellington vibe.

Prefab – This is a great brunch spot, conveniently located on Jessie Street, a short walk from the CBD. Be sure to take home a loaf of bread, baked daily on-site, and order the bottomless coffee, because one cup is never enough.

Six Barrel Soda – This is one of my favourite spots to catch up with a girlfriend, gossip, and people watch the street below. Not to mention the in-house soda’s, which are beyond good.

Deluxe (or Diamond Deli if you happen to be in Lyall Bay) – If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just crave a healthy lunch, Deluxe is definitely the way to go. Either eat in or grab your lunch take away and enjoy it down at the waterfront. Their vegan sandwiches are tops, as are the salads (a given), the brown rice sushi rolls and the sweet treats. Okay all of it.

Duke Carvells – Quite possibly one of my favourite restaurants in Wellington, Duke Carvells offers up a delectable fare of Meditterranean inspired tapas, for sharing with your companions. Come here on a Friday or Saturday night and you’re likely to be treated to some live music.

Ekim Burgers – Since moving to Sydney, Ekim has relocated to Cuba Street (as opposed to its original, Lyall Bay Beach spot); convenient for those wandering the city (or just dropping in). If you’re hungry for a burger, I highly recommend that you head to Ekim; theirs are arguable among the best I have ever eaten, and they have a hearty selection of vegetarian (and vegan) options.

There are so many good options in Wellington – for which we have the huge cafe culture to thank – so if in doubt, if there’s a steady stream of people wandering in, that’s usually a good sign. Should you get a nice enough day for a picnic, Moore Wilson’s is a good spot to drop in to pick up a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, some nice soft cheeses, and a loaf of bread, hand picked from one of the many bakeries around the city.

As for places to stay, you’d be hard pressed to find a more luxurious and unique experience than at the Museum Hotel or Ohtel, both located near the Oriental Bay waterfront. If you live in Wellington, or are planning on just visiting, I hope that this short guide proves useful! x