NZ & sand flies


I already went once in NZ (I did a tour with a car and hiking day-trips n the south island) and I remember the nasty sand flies. I created this post to try to gather all your tips and tricks about how one’s protects himself against sandfly in the wilderness? What did work and what didn’t worked?

Thanks and cheers,


Heya Rem,

Indeed I have found them to be horrendous in my limited experience in NZ. Most rivers there are so cold though, you could probably wear a dry suit and gloves most of the time, so you would just need to put a little bit of repellent on your face?

Otherwise repellent everywhere all the time can make it a tolerable experience. I wonder if there is any goopy repellant (like zinc sunscreen), that wouldn’t wash off?

What are your plans in NZ?

I would avoid the south island west coast totally if you don’t love those pesky little bastard sand-flies and the endless itches they bestow upon your legs, arms, butt, head, hands, feet, ears, eyes… I found I could almost outrun them paddling as fast as I could in flooded grade 6 water but if I slowed down or went anywhere near the bank I was engulfed by swarms so thick they blocked out the sun!! I tried all manner of glow in the dark toxic potions but regardless of how much radioactive bug deterrent I could bath myself in they still came at me in giant angry packs. I had a bullet ready Kevlar dry suit made by the US Military and the sand-flies still managed to get in and prick my tender white bits with needle point precision. I even filled my packraft full of ‘skull and cross bone’ brand sand-fly killer and totally immersed myself (breathing through a straw); the sand flies donned snorkel and goggles and came in after me (they blocked the straw to flush me out!!). I tried smearing myself with ancient volcanic mud, doing a traditional Maori dance whilst chanting sandfly death mantras but that just made the sand flies angry and they attacked me with even more vigour. I think they texted and Face booked my locations to all the other sand flies so they could attacked me on mass. I was left red spotted, scratchy and itchy, with a nervous tick and stammer that returns with the mention of NZ and sand flies. I finally figure out why so many New Zealanders immigrate to Australia, to get away from the bloody sand-flies!

I’m off to NZ in September again…:slight_smile:

Steve, even though only part of that was true, Abbie and I were pissing ourselves. Good work.

I have told you a billion times Jules, I have not ‘exaggerated’ anything in the history of the universe :slight_smile:

You gonna come Tongarrio in September for a week chasing truts?

Hi guys,

Hilarious and meaningfull!!!

As I expected there is no magic and theses flies are even worse than I remember. I don’t plan to take a dry suit but I’ll have shorties + rainproof cloths… may some rubber at the extremities + repellent do the job, but there is no miracle to be expected…
I am still planning but I’ll probably do some week-trips in the following order:

  1. Hollyford Track + Pyke Big Bay Route (clockwise), to meet the flies and start quietly
  2. Maybe the Clarence river or something equivalent (I didn’t worked out the access yet)
  3. Then I’ll have a good overview to be more adventurous, ideally with a west-east pass crossing. At the beginning I wanted to do the copland pass and float out on the Waitaki river, but there is too much lakes and barrages, seems not to be interesting. I have to study the feasibility (I mean tracks&glaciers/glaciers access) of coming from the west and floating out in Havelock or Rakaia river (I found no information on these rivers, I have to look at whitewater guides and satellite images).



I’ll be fishing and packrafting the Tongariro and other rivers 5th to 8th September and would be keen to meet other rafters for a beer or an excursion if any of you are around. I’ll be at the Sportsmans Lodge in Turangi on a company trip we do every year. If that doesn’t coincide with your travels, all the best and rip some lips. Cheers, Chris.

Chris, I’ll be there a little later Sept 21 - 28th, would be keen to hook up for a fish/paddle & beer(s) then?


In an amazing piece of serendipity, Wild magazine has a tip for sandflies in as it’s letter of the month. Mix a capful of dettol in a small bottle of baby oil, and rub on exposed skin. G’luck !

Steve/Fish de jour - that would be great, family permitting. A week later and we could have hit a a headwater or two over the hill as they open October. Are you driving from Auckland to get down there or flying into Taupo? Can’t say you’ll need sand fly patterns (there - I actually commented on the topic), but I think you already knew that.

Jules, what is it with you and Baby oil…just because it’s perverted doen’t mean it’s wrong :slight_smile:

Hi guys,

Finally we only did the Clarence river, we preferred to take our time on one long river rather than to rush around the island.

We met a hunter and he told us exactly the same recipe against the sandflies. It’s probably a good tip !