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New Zealand Hostel Guide: The Best (& Worst) Hostels in New Zealand

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Kakapo Lodge YHA Hanmer Springs

I lived, worked, and traveled around New Zealand for almost 11 months. I was on a working holiday, so I was definitely on a tight budget. As a backpacker, a lot of my nights were spent sleeping in hostels—108 nights, to be exact. I thought it would be helpful to take my experience and turn it into a New Zealand hostel guide.

There are hundreds of hostels in New Zealand. You’ll find plenty to choose from in every major city, town, and tourist destination. Some are really amazing, some are okay, and some are downright horrifying. It’s hard to know what kind of hostel you’re going to end up in until it’s too late.

If you choose your hostel in New Zealand based on price (i.e. what’s the cheapest), don’t be surprised if it’s not quite up to your standards. If you choose a place based on popularity, you might just end up in a noisy party hostel (which might be what you’re looking for). If you choose a hostel based on location, it could be totally hit or miss. So how do you know which hostel to choose?

Finding the right hostel might seem like an art form (or maybe more of a science), but I’m here to make picking a good hostel in New Zealand WAY easier for you. After staying in over 20 hostels around the country, I have found both the good and the bad. I’ve created this guide specifically to stop you from ending up in one of the bad ones.

 

I spent a year traveling in New Zealand, and I stayed in over 20 hostels. I'm reviewing & recommending the best hostels in New Zealand.

Keep in mind that our hostel preferences may differ. I like hostels that are, first and foremost, CLEAN. I can deal with just about anything as long as I have a clean bed to sleep in and a clean shower.

Other than that, I prefer hostels with:

  • good facilities (big kitchens are important since I always cook)
  • useful common areas (so I don’t have to hang out in my dorm room)
  • and a relatively low-key, quiet atmosphere (some partying is ok, but I want to be able to sleep)

This guide will let you know what I do and don’t like about each of these New Zealand hostels. So maybe you’re okay with one of the hostels I don’t recommend, or maybe one of the hostels I like doesn’t seem to be the right fit for you. My goal is to give you an idea of what to expect at each of these hostels.

From the North Island to the South Island, from tourist hotspots to the lesser-known places, these are the 20+ New Zealand hostels I stayed in during my working holiday. Hopefully this will help you do some research for your travels around the country and choose the best hostels for you.

At the end of the post, you’ll find a Google Map for quick and easy reference to all of the New Zealand hostels in this guide.


New Zealand Hostel Guide Directory

I’ve organized the hostels by island/region/location to help you find what you’re looking for! Click on the location you want, and you’ll be taken straight to the hostels I’ve reviewed there. Find even more New Zealand hostels on Hostelworld.

North Island

South Island


Reviewing 20+ Hostels in New Zealand

 

-North Island-

A guide to the best & the worst hostels in New Zealand. North Island hostels

 

Hostels in Paihia

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Saltwater Lodge Paihia

Source: Saltwater Lodge

Saltwater Lodge

Address: 14 Kings Road

Review: I loved this place. Saltwater Lodge is a former motel, turned into a backpackers. Each room has a sliding glass door off the main deck, so you’re connected directly to the outdoor spaces.  Every room has an ensuite, which means you’re only sharing a bathroom with a few people. The kitchen and common area are comfortable–a great place to hang out if it rains. The whole place just had a relaxed vibe, which made me feel like I was actually on vacation!

Would I Recommend?: Yes. This was a really clean, comfortable, and chill place to stay.

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Hostels in Auckland

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Frienz Backpackers

Source: my photo

Frienz Backpackers

Address: 27-31 Victoria Street East

Review: This was the first hostel in New Zealand I stayed at. Frienz Backpackers wasn’t bad—it had some good qualities, and I wasn’t totally unhappy with it. But overall, I wasn’t impressed. It was filled with the partying backpacker type and a lot of the people there were staying long-term, which changed the environment.  The bathrooms were cramped and not very clean most of the time. The kitchen and common areas were also small, so I mostly avoided them. However, the 6-bed dorm I stayed in was spacious and it overlooked the park. I also found it easy to meet people here.

Would I Recommend?: Maybe. It’s not the worst place, but there are better hostels in Auckland.

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New Zealand Hostel Guide: YHA Auckland International

Source: YHA

YHA Auckland International

Address: 5 Turner Street

Review: On my second visit to Auckland, I decided to try out a different hostel. There are two YHAs in Auckland, just a few blocks away from each other. I stayed at Auckland International. Overall, I was happy with my stay. The main common area is pretty big, and I enjoyed hanging out here. I actually stayed here a second time, towards the end of my trip to New Zealand. I was happy with both the 4-bed & 8-bed dorms. The bathrooms were never too crowded, which is always a big plus.

Would I Recommend?: Yes. It seems to be one of the better hostels in Auckland.

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New Zealand Hostel Guide: Station Backpackers Auckland

Source: Booking.com

The Station Backpackers

Address: 131 Beach Road

Review: The only positive thing about this hostel is the proximity to the train station. If you’re taking the train from Auckland to Wellington early in the morning, this is a convenient place to stay overnight to make a quick trip to the station in the morning. It’s not too bad of a walk to the main part of the city, but there are plenty of other hostels that are much better-located. It’s just a cramped hostel, with a mostly unusable kitchen, and I avoided the bathrooms as much as possible. There also weren’t enough outlets, and no real common areas.

Would I Recommend?: No. There are SO many other hostels in Auckland. This one felt a bit sketchy.


Hostels on the Coromandel Peninsula

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Anchor Lodge Backpackers

Source: Anchor Lodge Motel

Anchor Lodge Backpackers

Location: Coromandel Town

Address: 448 Wharf Road

Review: I got a private room at the backpackers so I could unwind before heading off to start my job. It was an okay place to stay for a couple of days, but it didn’t really have a hostel vibe about it. This place is mainly a motel, so the backpackers area is small. The bathrooms were quite horrendous. There were bugs everywhere, they weren’t kept very clean, and the automatic lights kept going off on me while I was in there. The kitchen is tiny, but there aren’t too many people to share it with. My bedroom was decent, so I at least had somewhere to hang out.

Would I Recommend?: No. I don’t know of any good hostels in Coromandel Town, so it may be the best option. But overall I wasn’t a fan of this place.

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Hostels in Tauranga

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Harbourside City Backpackers

Source: my photo

Harbourside City Backpackers

Address: 105 The Strand

Review: When I walked into my dorm room, I was ready to go to sleep. Unfortunately, I found dried vomit on two of the beds, one had dust and a dead fly on it, and the other was taken. Great options. One of the girls in the room came in before I went to sleep and told me the story about the other girl throwing up everywhere the night before, which explained the vomit. So the staff obviously changed the beds, but didn’t do a great job of cleaning the surrounding area. Needless to say, I was so happy to leave the next morning. I don’t feel it’s worth it to write about the rest of the hostel.

Would I Recommend?: No. I realize my experience could have been a one-off, and it’s not a totally uncommon thing to encounter in a hostel. At the very least, though, I want to stay in a vomit-free dorm room.

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Hostels in Rotorua

New Zealand Hostel Guide: YHA Rotorua

Source: Hostel Bookers

YHA Rotorua Backpackers

Address: 1278 Haupapa Street

Review: I decided to try out YHA again, since I trusted it would at least be a clean, comfortable hostel. I was very, very happy with the YHA Rotorua. It was clean, it was quiet, and it had really great common areas. It also has unlimited free wi-fi, accessible throughout the entire property–that’s hard to find in New Zealand. I liked the location; it’s right across the road from Kuirua Park and a couple of blocks down from the Night Market.

Would I Recommend?: Yes. I have zero complaints about this hostel.

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Hostels in Taupo

New Zealand Hostel Guide: Haka Lodge Taupo

Source: Haka Lodge

Haka Lodge Taupo

Address: 56 Kaimanawa Street

Review: Haka Lodge is more of a “flashpackers”, so overall it’s a little nicer and more stylish. It’s further away from the town center than I would like, and if you’re walking from the bus station, I’d recommend staying elsewhere. I loved the private room, and the dorms were nice too. The only complaint about the dorm is that the custom-made bunk beds felt a bit too enclosed. The bathrooms are co-ed, which is fine, but I wish they would have mentioned it at check-in. I wrote a full review of Haka Lodge Taupo here.

Would I Recommend?: Yes. If you have a car and want something more “upscale”, this is the place to stay.

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Hostels in Napier

New Zealand Hostel Guide: YHA Napier Backpackers

Source: Accommodation New Zealand

YHA Napier Backpackers

Address: 277 Marine Parade

Review: I spent a full week in Napier. Once again, I went with the YHA since I had started to build a trust with their standards. I booked a single private room and I was very happy with it. My room was small but cozy. I had a huge window to let in fresh air and light. There were extra blankets and duvets, so my bed was extremely comfortable and warm. There were two bathrooms right across the hall. One was quite cramped, the other very spacious, but both were kept clean. There’s a great courtyard, a nice kitchen, and the staff were very friendly. This is the place that solidified my on-going loyalty to YHA New Zealand, so I finally bought a membership card while here.

Would I Recommend?: Yes. It’s a quiet place, though, so stay at one of the other hostels down the street if you want more social opportunities.

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Hostels in Wellington

New Zealand Hostel Guide: YHA Wellington City

Source: my photo

YHA Wellington Backpackers

Address: 292 Wakefield Street

Review: The Wellington YHA is huge. Like, really REALLY big. I believe it can accommodate up to 300 guests. I suppose there are both good and bad things about a hostel of this size, but I found it mostly good. The 6-bed dorm was very spacious, and the private room felt really airy and had everything I needed. I love the lockers at the larger YHAs—they have power outlets right inside, making it easy to keep your electronics locked up while they’re charging.

There are two kitchens and dining areas. It seems that one is geared towards groups and the other is geared more towards individual travelers. I liked sitting in the smaller dining area, which had small tables underneath a huge skylight. The hostel is quite far from any of the transportation stations, so if you’re arriving by bus or ferry, it’s easiest to just take a cab or Uber. They do offer a shuttle to the ferry for just a couple of dollars, so that’s really convenient if you’re headed to the South Island.

Would I Recommend?: Yes. I stayed here multiple times, and I was really happy with the facilities.

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New Zealand Hostel Guide: Hotel Waterloo & Backpackers

Source: my photo

Hotel Waterloo & Backpackers

Address: 1 Bunny Street

Review: I chose to stay at Hotel Waterloo on this trip to Wellington because of the location. This hostel is right across the street from the rail station (which is also where the bus picks up), and a short walk to the Bluebridge ferry terminal. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. The rooms are crowded and the bunk beds are old and creaky. I was on a top bunk and the “guard rail” was barely attached. The kitchen is huge, but it was absolutely disgusting every time I went in. I couldn’t even cook because it was so dirty. The common area/dining room was okay, since it had plenty of couches and tables. They also have an on-site café, but I never bought anything from them.

Would I Recommend?: No. There are plenty of other hostels in Wellington. No need to waste your money on this one.


Continue to page 2 to read all of my South Island hostel reviews

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