(Hobbiton - onsite accommodation TBC)
A good hostel can make or break a trip. When a major part of the backpacking experience is meeting people, staying in an unconventional or curiously themed hostel can really break the ice when it comes to finding a new travel mate for the day.
New Zealand is a little bit out there, not just geographically but culturally too. The accent has a low pull/catch, the mountains look like they’ve been yanked from the earth and an unfathomable obsession with giant icons erected in public squares (kiwis, vegetables, fizzy drinks), all make NZ one hell of a place to travel around. The hostels of course, are no different.
So I’ve compiled all of New Zealand’s best unusual budget accommodation into one list starting with Auckland and moving south. Almost all are around the NZ$30 per night per person mark, are highly recommended by reviewers and offer some really unique accommodations, whether it’s staying in an eco-retreat, a tepee or an old jailhouse.
All currency is in New Zealand dollars. NZD$1 =EURO€0.64/USD$0.69 at time of publishing.
Auckland - Bamber House
A gorgeous colonial lodge located on the outskirts of Auckland’s city centre, close enough to walk downtown (or bus) and with the stunning views of Mt Eden just down the road. This big and friendly hostel will help you hit the ground running on your first few days of exploring New Zealand.
Auckland – Fat Cat Travellers Community
This eco-retreat west of Auckland boasts solar showers, an outdoor fire bath and big gardens brimming with organic fruits and vegetables. Also includes a vegan breakfast and dinner each day. No better way to kick off a few weeks in New Zealand than getting involved in workshops teaching bread making, organic gardening and creative uses of recyclable materials.
Dorm bed: $30p/n
Waiheke Island - Fossil Bay Lodge
Glamping doesn’t have to be expensive. This secluded and tranquil lodge offer fairly luxurious tents or cottages on Waiheke Island just a ten-minute walk from Oneroa Village for café’s, beaches, wineries, restaurants and bars.
2-person tent: $100p/n
Raglan - Solscape Eco Retreat
Nestled at the base of Mount Karioi, Solscape is a chance to reconnect with nature in a stylish poured earth floor tepee. Pick up a customised learn to surf package and hit one of New Zealand’s most popular surf breaks, Manu Bay.
2 person tepee: $80
Rotorua – Crash Palace
Crash Palace is a community orientated hostel that supports local charities Help for the Homeless, Koha shed & Love Soup in Rotorua. So as well as supporting local projects, enjoy a sociable environment surrounded by funky colours and New Zealand art.
Dorm bed: $25p/n
Napier - Criterion Art Deco Backpackers
After an earthquake in the 1930s devastated Napier, the city was rebuilt in the style at the time: Art Deco. So embrace the theme and stay in an ArtDeco building, once built as a luxury hotel, now refurbished flashpacker hostel.
Dorm bed: $29p/n
Wellington – The Cambridge Hotel
This recently restored heritage building in the centre of Wellington is a favourite for its luxury boutique feel at backpacker prices, even the queen stayed here in the 1960s. Here, you’re walk away from Te Papa National Museum, Mt Victoria lookout and lively Cuba Street.
Dorm bed: $29p/n
Picton - Jugglers Rest
Why not start your first night on the South Island with a Juggling workshop, learn to twirl poi or advanced hula hoop twirling. At Jugglers Rest you could spend an evening watching fire shows or join in yourself, then grab some home baked bread the next morning for breakfast. If you’re crossing the Cook Strait on the ferry, you’ll be docking in Picton anyway, may as well make the most of it.
Dorm bed: $29p/n
Abel Tasman National Park - Aqua Packers Hostel
This is New Zealand’s only floating backpackers’ accommodation and is docked right in Abel Tasman National Park so you can recover from your hike through the park on a converted catamaran with a nightly BBQ.
Dorm bed (including dinner and breakfast): $75
Christchurch – Jailhouse
Once a historical jail, now converted to one of New Zealand’s quirkiest hostels, the Christchurch Jailhouse operated as Addington Prison from 1874 to 1999 and then reopened in 2006 as an award winning budget backpackers. Right in the centre of Christchurch, Jailhouse is surrounded by a variety of bars and cafes and is a 20-minute walk to the Arts Centre, Christchurch Art Gallery, Canterbury Museum and the Botanic Gardens.
Dunedin – Hogwartz
Once the Catholic Bishop’s residence from 1870 to 1999, this handsome building offers a unique sleep in one of the grandest dormitories in the country. Pick the 5 bed dorm to sleep in the Bishop’s dining room.
Queenstown – Tahuna Pod Hostel
New Zealand’s first pod hostel beautifully mixes Maori art and design with modern backpacking. Each pod is kiwi made using sustainable materials with all present day needs like individual USB ports and power points, and beds curtained off for privacy.
Franz Josef – Rainforest Retreat
Nestled into the lush local bush of Franz Josef town and home to a huge 20 person hot tub, Rainforest Retreat is the perfect spring board to dive into adventures like guided glacier hikes and lagoon kayaking.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and for each purchase you make, I receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. HostelWorld is the only hostel booking website I use and is the best way to search for and book budget accommodation.
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