The New Zealand dress code is pretty much a reflection of the casual Kiwi lifestyle.
Living the good life in ‘Godzone’ as Kiwis describe ‘God’s Own Country’, means dressing informally. This easy-going lifestyle is exemplified by the popular, sizzling backyard barbecue. To dress ‘a la mode’ in this situation requires nothing more than T-shirts/shirt/blouse, jeans/trousers/shorts, sandals/casual shoes/jandals(thongs). Basically it’s whatever you feel comfortable in.
Dining in exclusive restaurants, attending functions, balls and cocktail parties requires a higher standard of attire, but dark business suits and stylish evening dresses or trouser suits fit most occasions. Tuxedos are worn only at the most formal functions. New Zealand fashion houses like Karen Walker, Trelise Cooper and World are building an international reputation and their exclusive designer wear can be viewed in many city boutique arcades. Designers keep up with new fashion trends with frequent visits to London, Paris and Milan and put their own stamp on chic Kiwi designs noted for stylish simplicity and informality.
In the North Island, coats are not commonly worn except during cold southerly winds. These are felt keenly in the Wellington region, which is influenced greatly by the natural wind funnel of Cook Strait. Cooler climes in the South Island call for more winter protection in the form of woollen or polar fleece jackets, jeans and lightweight boots. Waterproof parkas and ‘Swanndri’ water-repellent long woollen shirts are common for farmers, hunters and other outdoors folk in the south.
New Zealand is building an international reputation for producing quality outdoor wear and especially lightweight, fashionable adventure clothing. Visitors will find that adventure outfitters have a huge selection of fine merino wool, angora and possum fur garments, which are ideal for outdoor pursuits in cool climate conditions. Hand-spun, hand-dyed and hand-knitted pure wool jumpers are of the highest quality in New Zealand. Look for these in tourist shops and department stores.
If you plan to tramp the New Zealand Great Walks or other tracks during your visit remember that our maritime climate is very changeable. Brilliant sunshine can turn into sudden wind squalls and heavy rain showers within half an hour. The secret is to have several layers of lightweight clothing that you can readily put on and take off to suit the changing conditions. Polar fleece and polypropylene garments are ideal. A lightweight breathable hooded rainproof jacket completes the ensemble.