The following travel tips were originally developed by Tasha Brown and Brandon Hensley, graduate students from Eastern who traveled to Australia and New Zealand summer 2009.  The list has been revised and expanded with the input of students on an additional three trips (2010, 2011, 2013)


  • Bring layers of clothing. You need to plan on weather from around freezing (South Island of New Zealand) to 80 degrees (Cape Tribulation, Australia). You also need to be prepared for sun, rain, and snow.
  • Bring a scarf, hat and gloves.
  • Don’t bring a winter coat, bring a waterproof shell and layers.
  • Make sure the shoes you bring are broken in. Do not try to use new shoes on the trip.
  • Make sure you have flip flops or shower shoes for the public bathrooms.
  • Plan your clothing for maximum use. In the weight and size allowances that you have it is not possible to pack for the entire trip. You should plan on doing laundry. There are laundry facilities at all hostels. Don’t forget layers and try to select clothing that minimizes the number of loads.
  • Most New Zealanders wear dark clothing. You will not see many designer labels displayed. You can tell an American by the clothes they wear. You should not wear tight pants, short shorts, Greek clothing, or shirts that have comic, rude, crude, sexual innuendo artwork, sayings or slogans.
    • Some other clothes items to remember
    • better to bring a hat rather than an umbrella
    • Don’t forget a swimsuit
    • Even though the weather may be cool, you should remember to use sun screen.
    • A cheap towel for spa, beach, swimming pools.
    • Don’t bring jeans. They are heavy and if they get wet, are hard to dry. Better to bring cotton pants. If you bring jeans or heavy pants/shirt/coat, wear them on the plane rather than packing them. It will help conserve weight in the suitcase.  This is the most frequently ignored suggestion.  


  • Your suitcase can be a maximum of 50 lbs or 23 kgs for international flights. You will be forced to remove items until it meets the minimum weight requirement. Make sure that your luggage either rolls easily or is a backpack. The backpack is the most common type of luggage for college students in New Zealand and Australia.
  • For domestic flights, you will pay NZ$10 or AU$10 per kilo of overweight luggage.
  • You will be allowed one carry-on item (and purse or laptop bag). We recommend that you get a day pack to use.  It can weigh no more than 7 kilos or 15 lbs.  Airlines will do spot checks of carry-on items especially in Australia. 
  • Make sure you bring a electrical plug adapter. The outlets and current are different in New Zealand and Australia (230-240 volts). Check your chargers (laptop, phone, iPod) prior to leaving to see if you need a converter along with the plug adapter.
  • You might want to consider purchasing hair care and personal toiletries once you arrive rather than fly with them.
  • You want to keep you hands as free as possible. Pack accordingly.
  • Bringing camping gear into New Zealand is illegal. If you are using material that has been “in the field” in the past six months make sure that it is thoroughly clean. Your equipment (shoes, walking sticks, tripods, backpacks) will be inspected.
  • Don’t pack heavy items. If you don’t want to carry it around all day, don’t bring it.
  • Work with others going on the trip to see if you can share items.


  • Make sure you bring rechargeable batteries and several storage cards for your camera.
  • You might want a camera you can take underwater or a disposable underwater camera for the Barrier Reef.
  • Always bring your camera with you and keep it readily accessible. You never know when you will need or want to use it.
  • Make sure you know how to use your camera before you leave. Don’t buy a new one the day before the trip.
  • You might want to see how the camera takes evening, indoor, or night pictures.
  • This trip is worth purchasing a camera. Don’t rely on your cell phone camera. 
  • The camera and memory cards are the most frequently stolen, lost, or broken items on the trip.  Plan accordingly.  
  • Most people fill two 8 gb SD cards with photos when shooting in a standard jpg format if you are an averge photographer. At the extreme end, your instructor typically fills two 32 GB compact flash cards shoting in RAW with backup of two 32 gb SD cards in jpg.    

Day Trips

  • Expect to do a lot of walking. New Zealand is not level. It will be up and down. Australia is big.
  • If you get sea sick or car sick, there are several times where you might want to have appropriate medication available. Especially crossing the Cook Straits and the trip between Franz Josef and Queenstown (in one stretch of 20 km there are 365 curves).
  • Either bring a water bottle with you or purchase one when you arrive. You can always refill it. Stay hydrated. 
  • Sundays are not good shopping days. Many stores and restaurants are closed.
  • You don’t have to do everything (in fact you cannot in one trip). You should take time to enjoy the experience. The itinerary is set up so that you have choices. Your goal should be to experience as many new things as possible while doing the things you think you will enjoy and are related to your projects. 


  • All of the hostels have kitchens with food storage areas and refrigerators. To save some money you might want to go to the grocery store and purchase items for lunch. There will be some lunches provided.  Breafast (ceral and toast) and dinners are provided.  
  • Most dinners will be group meals.  We use group meals as a way to save money and to enhance interaction.  It is a time to share the experiences of the day.  So, you need to plan on taking turns cooking shopping, and cleaning. 
  • There are restaurants everywhere representing just about every nation and ethnic group in the world. Try new things. They are not necessarily expensive.
  • Foods might appear to be expensive but please remember the currency conversion rates and no tipping.

Maintaining Contact

  • For those that have Verizon with the data plan, text messaging worked well in New Zealand. There was no additional costs for a text message. Verizon phones did not work in Australia unless you hae an international phone.  You might want to consider either a disposable phone that you purchase on arrival or if you have it, add an international plan to your phone service.
  • Purchase an international phone calling card as a backup.
  • All hostels have computers and wireless networks. If you want to save space you could use the hostel computers (they have card readers) to download your photos. You can also use them to maintain contact (email, Skype, IM, postings to Facebook, etc.). Computer use or wireless access does cost money. 
  • WIFI costs NZ$5.00 per day in New Zealand.  You can purchase a YHA membership for NZ$42 (US$35.70) and save US$45.05 on WIFI.  WIFI is available at the Australia hostels for a daily fee.  

Other Items

  • There is no central heating. Each room has its own heater and it is on a timer that usually only lets it work for about two hours. You will wake up in the morning to a cool room in New Zealand.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get directions. People are very friendly.
  • It is easier to use currency than credit cards. Credit cards are sometimes hit or miss. There are plenty of ATM machines and most locations accept a debit card. Save credit cards for major transactions.
  • The best way to get currency is to wait until you arrive and use the ATM in the airport. 
  • Restaurants and pubs are close by all hostels. Usually a 5 to 10 minute walk or a short cab ride. Restaurants often close by 9 or 10 but pubs are open until 4 am in major cities and midnight in smaller locations. Most pubs serve meals.
  • Talk with the others staying in the Hostels and in your room. They are from all over the world. Their stories are just as interesting as yours.
  • Get a small notebook to take with you to make notes during the day. It is helpful when you are summarizing your thoughts at the end of the day.
  • The airlines are currently adding fees to flying beyond the cost of the ticket. It is not possible to predict what these fees might be. On the trip last Summer we paid the following at different times:
    • Luggage/baggage Fee (for each and sometimes for second bag - we had a tripod)
    • Fuel Surcharge
    • Overweight luggage Fee
    • Oversize luggage Fee
    • Departure Tax (to exit New Zealand)
    • On some flights, food and drinks were an additional expense (LA to Chicago, Chicago to San Francisco, Christchurch to Sydney, Cairns to Sydney)
  • You might wish to bring pain relievers or other preferred medications since you might not be able to get them in Australia or New Zealand.
  • Bring a small travel alarm.


One of the most frequent questions we get is related to computers.  Should I bring a computer with me.  In general, students use computers for the following program related purposes

  • To store photos or video
  • To keep a journal
  • To communicate back home
  • To keep a blog
  • To write drafts of papers

We have seen people use the following

  • Use the hostels computers
  • Bring a computer 
  • Share a computer with several people
  • Bring a tablet

All of these options have worked.  Our advise is that unless you are going to be editing video or creating a tape library, a computer is not necessary.  You can use a usb drive to save a backup of photos and the hostel computers for most other activites.  If you have an iPad with enough storage that should work just fine.