My AT Prep: Backpacking Through New Zealand!

Guess what friends? Just 28 days until this traveling tarheels starts her 11-week journey in New Zealand! I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a year and it’s a great opportunity for me to go on some kick-ass shake down hikes to test of my gear and build my backpacking stamina.

For the first 6 weeks I will be taking a class on social entrepreneurship two days a week at the University of Otago in Dunedin. My partner in crime (aka travel partner), Maria, will be taking a class on wine and business (yes, her final includes a wine tasting). I am so grateful that my MBA program encourages us to study abroad during our two-year program. When else am I going to have the opportunity to spend nearly 3 months exploring a country on the other side of the world?

Maria and I make great travel companions. I like to work out the itinerary while she is awesome at finding us great accommodations. Here is an overview of our itinerary:

Weekend trips while taking classes in Dunedin:

  • Rakiura Track Great Walk: 4 days/3 nights of backpacking through Stewart Island
  • Lake Tekapo/Lake Pulaki area: (Hot spring spas!)
  • Catlins Forest Park
  • Mount Aspiring National Park (this looks amazing and there is no way to work it in unless we go as a weekend trip)

Lake Tekapo, photo courtsey of

Once school is out we start really travel!

South Island plan 

  • Kepler Track Great Walk
  • Mildford sound cruise and kayak tour
  • Routeburn Track Great Walk
  • Queenstown
  • Mt. Cook area star gazing tour and day hike
  • Christchurch

milford sound, nz

Milford Sound, photo courtsey of

North Island Plan

  • Wellington
  • Egmont Naitional Park: Summit hike
  • Tongariro Crossing day hike
  • Waitomo Caves to see glow worms!
  • Taupo lake day
  • LOTR Tour
  • Auckland to drop Maria off at the airport

Glow worm caves! Photo courtesy of

Glow worm caves! Photo courtesy of

Swinging back to the South Island solo:

  • Redwoods
  • Te Mata Peak hike
  • Aorangi Forest Park
  • Abel Tasman Great Walk
  • Victoria Forest Park/Nelson lakes
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park Drive

Abel Tasman National Park, photo courtsey of

Abel Tasman National Park, photo courtsey of

New Zealand is really just an awesome, 11 week AT shake down hike
Since I start my thru-hike just two weeks after I get back from NZ, I’m using the trip to try out all my AT gear. I’ll be lucky to get a good two weeks of backpacking time under my belt before heading out on the trail for good, which is just enough time to help me make my first set of gear adjustments. Right now my base weight (without food and water is sitting at 16 pounds, 9 oz.). Once I get out of the Smokies I can shed some weight with my heavier clothing, but overall the pack is still a little too heavy for my taste. My hope is to shave off a pound or so while figuring out what I need in NZ.

So without further adieu, here is my gear list!

Pack and Shelter Brand Weight in Oz
zpack 20 degree bag, wide and long Zpack 19.8
Sea to Summit Silk Liner Sea to Summit 4.6
Goose Hood – Ultralight Goose Down Hood Zpack 1.3
Medium-Plus Pillow Dry Bag Zpack 2
Klymit Static V2 Full Size Sleeping Pad Klymit 16.55
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Big Agnes 37
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Footprint Big Agnes 5
Seat to summit pack cover sea summit 4
Osprey Aurora 50 Osprey 49
ZPacks™ Cuben Fiber Belt Pouches Zpack 0.75
Hefty trashcompactor bag (pack of 5) Hefty 0.2
Zpack Wallet Bag Zpack 0.23
Zpack Iphone Bag Zpack 0.28


Eating Brand Weight in Oz
Snow Peak GigaPower Stove with Piezo Snow Peak 3.75
Gigapower fuel 250 Snow Peak 7
Optimus Titanimum Long Sporon Optimus 0.7
Evernew Titanium Non-Stick 900ml Pot Set (ECA417) Evernew 6.2
Evernew Titanium Mug 400ml Evernew 2.4
Zpack Bear Bagging Kit Zpack 3
small sharpie (for keeping track of fuel use) Sharpie 0.8
gotoob filled with olive oil already own


Camp Clothing/Gear Brand Weight in Oz
Smart Wool Lineer Gloves Smart Wool 1.4
Pocket Hat Icebreaker 1.9
Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater (2013) Patagonia 11.3
Camp Pants: Smart Wool Midweight Baselayers Smatwool 6.7
Camp Shirt: Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Icebreaker 10.4
Camp Underwear Exoffico 1
Camp bra
Camp Shoe: Crocs Crocs 7
Petzel zipka plus 2 headlamp Petzel 2.9
Darn Tough Socks (1 pair) Darn Tough 2


Hking Clothing/Gear Brand Weight in Oz
Buff Buff 5.3
Hiking Long Sleeve: Tech Top Long Sleeve Half Zip Icebreaker 14.9
Hking Short Sleeve Shirt: Tech T Lite Short Sleeve Icebreaker 4
Hiking Pant: Patagonia Cap 1 Patagonia 5.2
Hiking Skirt Mountainhardwear
Hiking Shorts: Rush Shorts Icebreaker
Hiking Underwear: Exofficino Exoffico 0.3
Hiking Bra
Brooks cascade 9 (mens size 9.5) Brooks
Darn Tough Socks (3 pairs) Darn Tough 6
Leki Carbinote poles Lexi 14.7
sunglasses maui jim


Rain Gear Brand Weight in Oz
Cuban Fiber Rain Mittens Zpack 0.95
marmot precip rain jacket (2014) Marmot 11.4
Cuben Fiber Rain Kilt Zpack 1.9


Survival Brand Weight in Oz
Sawyer Squeeze Sawyer 3
Sawyer 64oz reserve “dirty water” Sawyer 1
playtpus 3 L hydration pack with gravity feed attachment Platypus 6
3-4 large paper clips/Ul caribenrs on outside of pack zpack
Kershaw 1550ST Blackout Partially Serrated Folding Knife Kershaw 3.5
first aid bag 3.355
32 oz playtypus waterbottle


Luxury Brand Weight in Oz
pig game already own 0.1
journal and pen Mole Skin 3
lacrose ball (for knots, stretching) 5
backup ipone charger 5
cannon elph camera Cannon 5
total weight 20.0846875
Hiking clothes and poles 3.15
carrying weight 16.9346875


First Aid Kit
Items Weight in Oz.
travel tweezers 0.3
small scissor 0.3
packets of Neosporin 0.155
ibprohien 0.2
mole skin
band aids
badger lip balm 0.6
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve 1.8
duck tape (wrapped around trekking polls)
Total Weight 3.355


Item Weight in Oz.
Lightload Pack Towel 0.5
Ultralight Travel Toothbrush 0.14
Dr. Bronners Almond liquid soap 2
travel toothpaste 0.85
ear plugs (4) 0
toliet paper
travel conditioner 1.3
hair pick 2
nail clipper 3
wipes 2
contact solution 3
diva cup 0.8
travel size purrell 3
Total Weight 11.79


A few quick notes: Yes, I’m carrying more socks than most. Dry/dirt free socks will go a long way to prevent blisters. I’ll carry a few more onces to help keep blisters at bay. Yes, I have shorts and a skirt. While I will probably end up just hiking in the short, I like the skirt/shorts combo for keep more skin covered up. Shorts keep chaffing at bay, skirt gives more coverage. It’s also way easier to pee in the woods while wearing a skirt. The lacrose ball is heavy, but it does wonders for getting out knots after carrying a heavy bag all day. I tend to get a lot of neck and shoulder pain, I’m hoping this will help.

Okay, open to suggestions! Places to stay in New Zealand? Things I have to check out? Any gear swaps you’d make? Anything to leave at home?


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