I found it really difficult to choose what to take in our luggage - which has to last us for the first 3 months in New Zealand until the rest of our stuff eventually arrives on the container ship. That is if it hasn't been stolen by pirates.
We have now survived almost six weeks with only what we carried on the plane and have discovered some of the things we could have left behind and some of the things we should have brought. So here are my top tips.
1. Take a laptop or if you can carry it your PC. We found it a fantastic way to stay in touch with family. We use Skype which allows free phone and video calls to relatives back home. There is also wifi available in all of the airports so you can keep in touch during the journey. Having access to your email is also a must.
2. Make sure - if you can fit them in - that you bring sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases. These seem to be rather expensive in New Zealand. We are on a limited budget and we have found that buying these has been a bit of a pain. You can buy them fairly cheaply in shops like Warehouse but it is an expense we would have rather avoided.
3. Bring appropriate clothes for the time of year. Arriving in March meant that we went from snow and ice in Brussels to the end of summer in Wellington. We got off the plane wearing thick winter coats and scarfs and it was tropical in Auckland. (OK I know this is obvious but we were still surprised by the warmth of late summer in New Zealand).
4. Car seats - this was a real dilemma. In the end we left them behind to go on the ship. We managed to get car seats thrown in free with our rental car but as soon as we brought our own we had to go out and buy them. We managed to pick up two for about $230 in total. It was probably still cheaper to buy them out here than pay for the extra luggage allowance. I think it depends on how many child seats you are bringing with you and the age of your kids - as boosters are far cheaper than baby seats.
5. Shoes are expensive in New Zealand so pack enough to get you through 3 months and make sure they are flat ones as there are a lot of hills here. Moving from a city like Brussels most of my shoes were high heeled boots and shoes and not at all appropriate for beach/hill walking.
6. Rain coats/Pack-A-Macs. Weather in Wellington can change from one hour to the next so I would recommend that you bring light rain coats or jackets. I expect the weather in the rest of New Zealand is fairly similar.
7. If you have children I would recommend bringing a few favourite toys and books to make them feel at home. We brought a few well loved cuddly toys and some small plastic figures and cars which have turned out to be very useful when in a completely unfurnished house and makes their bedroom feel more like home. We have also found a Toy Library in our local town. It is brilliant and has been a complete life saver. So far we have borrowed scooters, ride on cars, doll houses and many other things which have really helped the kids settle in and kept them amused. Also make sure you find the local library as not only do the kids like the books but both myself and DH have found them useful in the evenings as we wait for the much missed TV to arrive.
8. Kitchen and cooking utensils. We didn't bring any of these as there was no way we would have been able to fit them in. If you are going to bring any of these the only way you will be able to do it is by hiring a crate and sending it separately with the airline. I have heard of some people who have emigrated and done this. It might be a very useful way of bringing heavy or bulky items like computers and duvets or dressing gowns with you. You could also pop in a few kitchen items as we have really missed our wok, cheese grater and casserole dish. It weird the odd things you miss. We have survived so far by buying a cheap set of saucepans (again from warehouse), 4 plates, 4 mugs, knives/forks and one sharp knife. This limits what we can cook but my DH has now perfected the art of making pancakes in a saucepan - highly skilled I think you'll agree.
So if you can afford it I would recommend getting a crate sent by air as you can then bring items that are expensive to buy and bulky.
In conclusion if like us you move over to New Zealand about 3 months before your furniture arrives then be prepared to rough it a bit. We have survived quite comfortably on inflatable mattresses and cheap duvets but I really look forward to getting our beds back and being able to cook a larger variety of food - not just stuff that can be boiled in saucepans!