Staying in Hostels in New Zealand
My personal opinion on hostels in New Zealand
New Zealand attracts many young people who wish to backpack around this beautiful country. In this article I'm going to tell you more about the hostels that I've stayed in during my month of travelling through New Zealand.
Not all hostels are created equal but I will refrain from giving strong recommendations on whether you should stay there or not. I'm just giving information about the hostels and it's up to you to see whether it fits your way of traveling. Also check out these tips on how to stay in hostels and how to select your hostel.
The article is my personal snapshot of what I've seen and experienced. For example, in some cities I grabbed food outside and in other cities I cooked my own food so I haven't always looked at the kitchen. I was travelling with a laptop so I did look for a safe or locker to store my valuables. If you have a laptop you also want wireless internet and although most hostels have it I did come across a hostel (Urban Retreat in Taupo) where they didn't have wireless.
Make as little assumptions as possible when selecting a hostel and verify that they have what you need. Enjoy your stay in New Zealand!
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My travel needs and expectations
As my travels continued my desire for a
personal wall socket grew: some dorm rooms with eight people in it
only have two or three wall sockets. Of course everyone has to
recharge their phone when you need one! In Base Wanaka I
was pleasantly surprised that every bed had their own wall socket and a
reading light. But that building is brand new while most hostels
you'll be staying in are older buildings. These buildings might have been turned into
hostels later on. Sometimes there are two wall sockets next to each
other but since everyone has those big wall socket converters you can
still only use one wall socket at a time.
When backpacking I'm not going to be very picky given what you're paying per night for these hostels. The cost of accommodation in a hostel for a dorm room is about 25 - 30 New Zealand dollars. I just have a few basic needs such as a bed, clean facilities and a locker but I'm not going to complain when the kitchen is rather small or when others in the dorm room make a mess of the room. That's just life and in particular when travelling you cannot expect more than what you pay for. Sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you're not although you're paying the same amount of money.
Also, I don't stay in the entertainment room when travelling so I have no idea how big the screens of their televisions are or the quality of their DVD collection, it's just not for me. Lastly, the difficulty with chain hostels like Base is that even though they bear the same name you can't make too much expectations about what you'll find there. Sometimes it's an old building and sometimes it's a brand new building.
Christchurch - Base Christchurch
My first hostel in New Zealand was Base Christchurch. I had no idea what to expect as this was my first backpacking travel experience. It's conveniently located at Cathedral Square so that's a plus. They put me in an empty room so no mess of other people. During my travels I talked to several people about the Base in Christchurch and nobody really seems to like it. Compared to most other hostels I've been to I must agree on that: it doesn't really have any character to it. It's a nice starting point but I would search for something else if I was going to stay for long in Christchurch.
Kaikoura - The Lazy Shag Backpackers
I stayed here for only one night and I don't remember anything bad about it. I must say I had to look through my photos to remember the name of this hostel so it has not been a very vivid experience. The room was fine with clean ensuite facilities and the view of the mountains in the background is very beautiful.
Nelson - The Fern Lodge
The Fern Lodge was a good choice as it was previously a hotel and they have now added some ensuite dorm-style rooms for backpackers. They have a nice bar area that is also used as a restaurant where you can get a dinner. Some people complained that they had to walk quite far to the nearest supermarket but I don't think it was far. All these rooms are ensuite so that could be plus if that's what you fancy. The downside of ensuite facilities is that everyone needs them at the same time in the morning or in the evening but that's a whole different discussion.
Franz Josef - Rainforest Retreat
Rainforest Retreat is a nicely themed accommodation with wooden buildings. The kitchen is large and clean, they have a bar where you can also get some food and they have their own spa pool. Franz Josef is quite small and the supermarket is at walking distance away from Rainforest Retreat.
Wanaka - Base Wanaka
Base Wanaka is a new building and I don't have reasons for complaint. Like I said in the introduction each bed has their own wall socket and reading light which is a plus that none of the other hostels had. The facilities were also very clean. I spent only one night in Wanaka but this town is definitely a place I would spend more time in if I were to return to the south island of New Zealand. I wouldn't mind staying again at Base Wanaka.
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Queenstown - Base Queenstown
At first they put us in a room where other roommates had made a real mess even of the beds they didn't use. The staff proposed to clean it but we eventually ended up being moved to another room. We had ensuite facilities with in-room lockers and the hostel is at walking distance from the town center. It's also very close to the well-known Fergburger burger restaurant. We had some good times in the bar next door with the pool tables. What tends to happen is that the party starts in bars like these and then people move on to some other bar in town. You can also have some dinner for a discount here although it wasn't big enough to fill us up.
If I remember correctly Kiwi Experience changed their default accommodation in Queenstown from Base Queenstown (also known as Discovery Lodge) to Nomads Queenstown. That may also influence your choice on whether to stay here although my stay there was alright.
Take a guide with you
Wellington - Nomads Capital Wellington
This is the first time I started to deviate from the default accommodation options that Kiwi Experience proposes. The accommodation was quite good but although they say they have in-room lockers this is not the case in every room. In my room there wasn't any in-room locker so I had to drop and pickup my bag every day when I left the hostel to explore the capital of New Zealand. Other than that I don't have complaints about this hostel. I had a brief look through the meeting area and the kitchen which seemed quite small for a hostel this size. I got a free meal voucher for the nearby bar which was rice/chicken but it wasn't big enough to fill you up.
Taupo - Urban Retreat
This hostel really has character with a central meeting area that adjoins the kitchen. It's also next to the bar so there's always some buzz going on in this area and people to talk to. They give you free internet for up to an hour: you can get 20 minutes at a time and if there's nobody waiting you can get another 20 minutes slot. The number of computers is very limited though and they don't have wireless so I had to go to Base Taupo for my wireless fix. All these hostels use the same company (Global Gossip) for their internet facilities so it's easy to have your internet card recharged at some other hostel and to use the wireless there.
Bay of Islands (Paihia) - Base Pipi Patch
Bay of Islands is really a holiday place and the Pipi Patch reflects that with a spa and a swimming pool. Not very big though and many people opted to go to the nearby beach anyway. I stayed here for one night. The room was fine with clean ensuite facilities but sadly no in-room lockers (unlike most Base hostels) so I had to drop my bag at the reception for safe keeping. There are two supermarkets with a smaller one at acceptable walking distance and a larger one even further away.
Auckland - Base Auckland (ACB)
My last hostel in New Zealand. My main motivation for staying here was to finish the nights on my Base card that I had bought. You can buy such a card to get five or ten nights at any Base accommodation for a cheaper price. The facilities were okay, the kitchen was pretty huge, they have wireless internet and lots of available computers. I also met some nice people in my room and we had a good time in the nearby bar downstairs. The hostel is conveniently location in the heart of the city but you will have to walk quite a bit for the nearest supermarket (as opposed to a small convenience store which is just next door)
Be prepared when you travel
All the hostels on a map of New Zealand
As you can see I stayed in various Base and Nomads hostels during my stay in New Zealand. After this I flew to Australia where I stayed mostly in Nomads hostels but that's a topic for a different hub. If you have enjoyed this hub or found it useful, please click one of the feedback buttons or leave a comment in the comments section below.
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