Finding the right hostel involves a number of decisions ranging from location to price. With the New Zealand backpacking scene dominated by an abundance of hostels on offer, here are just a few of the best options out there for your budget-friendly accommodation during your New Zealand trip.
Following on from my accommodation guide for New Zealand budget travel, it seemed only fair to offer a few suggestions of the best hostels in New Zealand. Across the major hostel networks in New Zealand there are a variety of styles to suit every traveller – the party hostel, the quirky, the practical, and the ethical. I’ve included a few of my favourites in some of the most popular New Zealand destinations to help you decide on where to stay in both the North and South Island of New Zealand!
Hostel Chains In New Zealand
There are a number of hostels that have multiple locations scattered across New Zealand. Some of the most popular hostels are Base Backpackers, Nomads World hostels, BBH hostels, YHA New Zealand hostel association, and YMCA New Zealand. It comes as no surprise that some of these are also international hostels, meaning if you have a particular alliance to one you can likely stay in them across the world (YHA is the best example!).
Here are a few summaries on each of these hostel chains comparing the hostel networks in New Zealand so you can start planning where to stay in New Zealand:
Base backpackers is the epitome of a typical hostel in New Zealand. With affordable prices of around $30 per night for a dorm bed and shared bathroom, the facilities are practical and efficient. Their biggest attraction is their connection to in-house bars, and often offer free meals and multiple voucher tokens for said bar – every backpacker’s dream!
Nomads is the slightly better brother of Base – as the two are in association with each other since Nomads acquired Base in 2015. Similarly to Base, Nomads offer reliable dorm rooms at a standard rate, and hostels often provide free breakfast too. Their facilities are mostly high quality, with modern and stylish interiors throughout.
Their lobbies are home to several tour operators providing consultation services for you to book excursions and future travel plans, giving you peace of mind that you can plan your adventures all from one reliable source!
The benefit of the Nomads and Base backpackers connection is that budget-conscious travellers can purchase a Bed Hopper Pass for up to 60 nights, to stay at any of the hostels provided by each company. This not only gets a large chunk of budget out the way, but also means that you won’t have to worry about paying for your next night’s sleep! Even better is the fact that this comes at a slightly reduced nightly rate, great for saving the pennies!
With so many hostels in New Zealand owned by these hostel networks, it’s no wonder that Base and Nomads are kings of the hostel landscape, and are the go-to choice for tour companies such as Kiwi Experience to offer these hostels to their customers.
YHA New Zealand is part of a long-established association that houses travellers in every corner of the globe. With YHA stretching all the way to New Zealand, you can expect the same level of professionalism and facility standards as many other destinations. YHA tend to have a higher focus on nature, experiences, community, and thereby the hostels often have more of a functional focus, moving away from the the nightlife focus of Base and Nomads.
YHA are by no means party hostels, you’d be much better off elsewhere for that! Therefore, they may be more suitable for slightly quieter travellers. As a registered charity, you can be assured that YHA have strong values, such as sustainability, thread throughout their approach as a hostel provider.
Like YHA, the YMCA is an internationally recognised association that does much more than providing affordable accommodation for travellers in New Zealand. Offering arts, culture, health, education and more in addition to their accommodation, YMCA are truly doing great work in New Zealand. They offer hostel accommodation in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland, so significantly fewer than competing hostel chains, but you’ll likely feel right at home in these large and peaceful hostels that fit all types of travellers from solo backpackers to families.
On the lesser-known end of the New Zealand hostel networks, BBH are small, independently run hostels with an emphasis on inclusivity. Found in the most unusual of places where the bigger chains haven’t yet reached, it’s a welcome sign to see hostels available in every nook of the country.
BBH, or Budget Backpacker Hostels, are proud of their independent roots and advocate the unique differences of each of their sites. Supporting a local business is a great choice for tourists, especially when you’re welcomed into a comfortable, homely place to stay that oozes charm!
Stay at BBH hostels if you’re looking for a more unique, family-feel experience. Staff are friendly and helpful, and you’ll easily find tips and tricks from other like-minded travellers too.
Best Hostels In New Zealand
In addition to these chains, there are plenty of other independent hostels in New Zealand. I’ve tried to include a mix of both here, to give a fair overview of all hostel types. Let’s dig into a few of the best hostels in New Zealand, starting with the North Island!
Hostels In New Zealand’s North Island
The North Island is by no means short of hostels for budget travellers in New Zealand. The major cities of Auckland and Wellington have the most variety, however the towns of Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, and more also have a wide choice of hostels to choose from. There are plenty that can be mentioned, however focussing on Auckland and Wellington, here are my picks for where to stay in each New Zealand city:
Hostels In Auckland
- The Attic Backpackers – A little up the hill from Auckland harbour is this quirky independent hostel. Kitted out with comfortable amenities and a family atmosphere, you’ll feel right at home instantly. With great prices for shared dorm rooms, there is much to be said for staying in this smaller hostel, particularly as it’s relatively peaceful for such an inner-city location. You’ll certainly wish you could stay longer!
- Nomads Auckland – This hostel is just a couple of streets away from the bustling Queen Street and the Britomart transport hub – perfect for getting around Auckland and the surrounding areas. Ideal for those looking to get out and party, the hostel sits right above bars – so don’t necessarily expect the most peaceful night’s sleep. The facilities are pretty standard, but they do boast a decent cinema room to relax in after a long day of exploring.
Hostels In Wellington
- Base Wellington – This enormous multi-storey hostel in the capital is right in the heart of town. A short walk to both the waterfront and museums, and the shops and bars it’s in the ideal location for exploring Wellington. At Base you get exactly what you pay for: affordable and practical accommodation. Consider your meal times carefully, as the hostel has just one (albeit very large) kitchen for the whole building – making it a bit tight for space or tough to find a clean pan!
Hostels In New Zealand’s South Island
Just like the North Island, the South Island has plenty of hostels to choose from. From the chains such as Base, Nomads, and YHA, there are also several independent hostels that make for a memorable and comfortable visit.
Ok, I might be biased here…. but the best place to stay on the west coast HAS to be Franz Josef. There are of course more West Coast destinations, many of which will offer a similar experiences and hostel choices. Focussing on my favourite West Coast spot, these are two of the best hostels in Franz Josef:
- Rainforest Retreat – The Rainforest Retreat is the hub of accommodation in the tiny town of Franz Josef. With dorm rooms coming in all sizes, private rooms, motel rooms, and large cabin suites, you can choose accommodation to suit you budget and comfort. If you don’t fancy cooking at the shared kitchen, the infamous Monsoon restaurant and bar offers delicious dinners and a variety of drinks, making it the perfect spot to end your day. Rainforest Retreat also offers a couple of hot tub facilities, adding a dash of luxury to your hostel experience! Furthermore, Rainforest Retreat is the primary hostel in Franz Josef for several tour companies to offer accommodation to their guests. Kiwi Experience, Stray New Zealand, and Contiki all use the hostel as their chosen accommodation for this stop on their tour.
- Franz Josef Montrose – An adorable hostel which offers an idyllic family vibe, you’ll feel right at home at Montrose. Offering free soup for dinner each night, as well as free WiFi, you certainly get your money’s worth here. Dorm rooms are generally smaller which means you’ll likely get a little more privacy than in the larger hostels in New Zealand – quite the treat!
A city continually improving and rebuilding, backpacker and budget accommodation is on the rise in Christchurch. Hostels in Christchurch are spread across the city, so you can find something near the centre of town, or near the beach – whichever suits your preferences!
- All Stars Inn on Bealey – This Nomad’s affiliated hostel is brand new with the most swanky, up to date facilities around. Bedside USB and plug points mean no more fighting for the chance to charge your phone, and the modern yet simple aesthetic means you’re certain to have a comfy night’s sleep. Situated on the outskirts of Christchurch CBD, you’re not too far from the main hub of town, and just a short walk to the nearest supermarket (a rare opportunity in Christchurch!).
- Point Break Backpackers – If staying near the beach is more your thing, then Point Break has the relaxed Kiwi vibe that we all know and love. A 30 minute bus ride from town, this hostel is small and simple just 5 minutes walk from New Brighton beach and pier too. With a charming cafe below the cafe, and only a handful of rooms, the hostel has a cosy atmosphere that is fitting of the area. An added feature of being a little further from town means prices are on the lower end – a bonus that’s always welcome!
- YMCA Christchurch – Right in the heart of town on Hereford Street, a stone’s throw from the Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, and Canterbury Museum, the YMCA Christchurch is a spacious and peaceful hostel that’s in a convenient location in the city, offering dorm rooms for a reasonable price. The facilities are just what you’d expect, with rooms being comfortable and simple, and the shared bathrooms offering more of a personal touch – less shower cubicles and more actual bathrooms makes it almost feel like having an en suite for a change! This is a great place to stay if you’re hoping to easily get around town, and not too fussed about any fancy additions from your hostel.
Queenstown has arguably New Zealand’s most expensive accommodation for budget travellers. With hostels in high demand, it’s worth booking ahead where possible to avoid disappointment. There is a huge choice of accommodation, however there are a few key hostels that take the top spots for location, facilities, and price.
- Pinewood Lodge – Booking out a whole unit would be perfect for a family or group of friends looking to have their own space. The lodge also offer hostel-style dorms as well as their suits of cabins. Not only is Pinewood Lodge just 10 minutes walk to the lakefront of Queenstown, their bonus facilities such as a trampoline and hot tub are wildly popular. Sat a little up the hill, the views over The Remarkables is probably the best view to wake up to in the mornings!
- Nomads Hostel – Arguably the nicest hostel in Queenstown, this particular accommodation is large, modern, and ideally located 1 minutes walk from the lakefront. Winner of the 2013 Golden Backpack Awards “Best Accommodation NZ” category, it’s easy to see why this hostel is favourite choice for travellers on a budget. They offer free WiFi between certain hours (uncommon for many NZ hostels), free toast for breakfast, great facilities, and well-kept rooms for their guests. It is worth noting that the hostel is used by Kiwi Experience for their QT visits, making it often pretty busy with young excitable backpackers!
- Base Hostel Queenstown – Nomad’s younger brother Base is another great budget option with some notable perks for a lower price. As mentioned, the benefit of both Base and Nomads is that they are part of the same group, and allow guests to purchase a minimum of 7 nights on a Base Jump card (now called Bed Hopper) at a slightly reduced rate of $24 per night. This has the advantage of reducing daily costs in favour of a lump sum expense, which some travellers (myself included) find appealing. Base’s facilities are simple but efficient, their biggest perk being the Loco Cantina bar adjacent to and owned by the hostel, which also offers a free (but small portioned) meal each night.
Where to stay in Wanaka
There is plenty of choice for Wanaka accommodation and, unlike its big brother Queenstown, the competition is not quite as fierce, meaning slightly lower prices and a little more flexibilty in choice. Most accommodation in Wanaka is a short walk to the lakefront, making it easy to get around the town. Here’s a great hostel option for staying in Wanaka!
- Base Backpackers Hostel– A great budget option is to stay at the Base Hostel, central and conveniently located right next to a supermarket! Ideal for those who favour practical accommodation over style, this is for those who are looking to save a bit of cash and aren’t worried about shared bathrooms, dorms, and the rest of the usual habits that come with hostels! As previously stated, Base hostels are plentiful, which often makes it the first choice for making budget travellers looking for where to stay in New Zealand.
Now we’ve run through some of the best hostels in New Zealand, hopefully you’ll be feeling prepared to start booking your hostel in New Zealand right away! I tend to use Hostel World, as their cancellation policy for many bookings is appreciated in the event of last minute changes! Plus, the reviews are reliable and the wealth of information about each hostel is always useful. So, what are you waiting for? Get planning now!
Do you have any favourite hostels in New Zealand? Where would you include in your top list? Let me know below!
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