Last Updated: 8/6/23 | August 6th, 2023
Traveling around New Zealand, you’ll find a wide range of hostels in this small country: decrepit, run-down chains; modern conglomerates; quirky, little family-owned places; hip, modern flashpacker hostels, and everything in between. During my time there, I tried to stay at as many as I could, often changing hostels every night to accomplish this goal.
The hostel scene in the country has vastly improved since I was there in 2010, with much more variety and quality now. It’s a much better time to be a traveler there and many of the hostels have stepped up their game in this competitive environment.
As I’ve been visiting New Zealand for a decade, I’ve stayed in dozens upon dozens of places. To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in New Zealand that I like the most.
If you don’t want to read the long list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in New Zealand:
Price Legend (per night)
- $ = Under 40 NZD
- $$ = 40-50 NZD
- $$$ = Over 50 NZD
1. Nomads, Queenstown
This is one of the most amazing hostels I’ve stayed at — ever! (And I’ve stayed at a lot!) Nomads was one of the best when it opened in 2010 — and it’s still one of the best today. Most rooms have balconies, the showers have prodigious water pressure, and the pillows are thick (the manager told me they change them every few months to keep them fluffy — how’s that for service?).
But what really sets this establishment apart is the HUGE kitchen and common area. There are activities every night (including a cheap pub crawl around Queenstown) and a free dinner and quiz night on Sunday. Not one traveler I spoke to wanted to leave.
Nomads at a glance:
- Organizes tons of activities
- Easy to meet other travelers
- Huge kitchen and common area
Beds from 44 NZD, privates from 130 NZD.
2. Finlay Jacks Backpackers, Taupo
Finlay Jacks has a huge kitchen, a big common room, a spacious patio with BBQs, fun and welcoming staff, bike rentals, and a super friendly hostel dog. In short, everything a backpacker or budget traveler would want from a hostel.
Everything in the hostel is updated, with new, modern pod-style beds so you can get a great night’s sleep. Most of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms, including the dorms, so you don’t have to wait on everyone else in the hostel taking showers before you get your turn. All the communal areas make it really easy to meet fellow travelers as you unwind from a long day doing all the adventure activities that Taupo has to offer!
Finlay Jack’s at a glance:
- Great place to meet solo travelers
- Pod beds
- Well-equipped kitchen
Beds from 41 NZD, privates from 70 NZD.
3. Juno Hall, Waitomo
This is a clean and well-kept hostel in Waitomo. It’s near the glow worm caves and has a pool and tennis court on-site. There’s a large kitchen (which is kept clean) for cooking your own food as well as an outdoor grill for barbecuing. The beds aren’t super comfy (the mattresses aren’t that thick) and there are no reading lights or individual sockets, but the amenities and location are excellent. The staff are really welcoming as well and ensure you have a comfortable, fun stay.
Juno Hall at a glance:
- Pool and tennis court
- Clean shared kitchen for cooking
- Excellent location
Beds from 34 NZD, privates from 80 NZD.
4. Chateau Backpacker & Motels, Franz Josef
More like a lodge than a hostel, Chateau is the absolute best place to stay while visiting and hiking the glaciers in Franz Josef. The location is fantastic; it’s right next to the forest and just a ten minute drive from the glacier. It’s also in the walkable area of town if you want to visit a bar or restaurant after a long day of exploring. When you want to stay in, there’s free homemade soup every night, two communal kitchens to use, and a hot tub where you can kick back and relax. In the mornings, there’s free breakfast with homemade waffles, pancakes, and coffee/tea.
There are both private and dorm rooms, in which there are pod-style beds that have privacy curtains, individual reading lights, and two outlets. Note that the Wi-Fi isn’t the strongest, especially when many people are on it, but this is fairly common in New Zealand.
Chateau Backpacker & Motels Lodge at a glance:
- Free breakfast and evening soup
- Great amenities including a hot tub, gym, coworking area, and two communal kitchens
- Pod-style dorm beds with privacy curtains
Beds from 30 NZD, rooms from 50 NZD.
5. Urbanz, Christchurch
This is an awesome modern hostel located right in downtown Christchurch. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, the kitchen is huge (and well cleaned), and there’s a pool table, fast Wi-Fi, laundry, a parking lot, a community bulletin board, movies, and comfy couches.
The bedrooms are cleaned daily, and the beds, while not the best, are good enough for a night’s sleep. My only complaint was that there weren’t a lot of showers on the floor I was on, and the unisex nature of them was a little shocking when I walked in only wearing boxers — but whatever, it’s a hostel!
Urbanz at a glance:
- Organizes lots of activities
- Great place to meet people
- Awesome staff goes above and beyond
Beds from 35 NZD, privates from 79 NZD.
6. Haka Lodge, Queenstown
The staff here is super nice and helpful, the kitchen is huge and clean, there’s lots of outdoor space to hang out on a warm night, the beds are super comfy (I slept like a baby), and you get a lot of personal space. I appreciated the lockers too, which is still a surprising rarity in this country. The dorms are kind of small, so expect cramped quarters, and you have to cross the lobby to get to the showers, but beyond that, I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.
Book in advance, though, as Haka Lodge is REALLY popular and fills up weeks in advance, especially during high season. (An outgrowth of Haka Tours, this is one location out of many. I only stayed at this one, but, from what I heard from everyone around, the others are just as high-quality.)
Haka Lodge at a glance:
- Great place to meet people
- Lots of outdoor space for relaxing and hanging out
- Knowledgeable staff can help you plan your trip
Beds from 37 NZD, private rooms from 123 NZD.
7. Mountain View Backpackers, Wanaka
This place made the list for three reasons: the guests, the staff, and the backyard. The staff is really friendly and tries hard to get people to socialize and interact with each other. The hostel (a house, really) has a huge outdoor space with a grill, space to lie in the sun, and a big table to congregate around (there were many enjoyable nights drinking wine outdoors). And, since it’s one of the few hostels in Wanaka not connected to the big bus tours, you meet a lot of independent, solo travelers.
The facilities, however, are just OK. The kitchen was the best stocked of any I came across in the country, but it was small and got really busy and cramped at mealtimes. The beds were OK too, but the metal frames creaked a lot. Plus, there are no lockers and the bathrooms need a complete redo (they were really gross). Still, I’d stay here again because it’s the type of place that fosters community, which, in a country where hostels seem to have a very passive approach to guest relations, I found very nice.
Mountain View Backpackers at a glance:
- Social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
- Organizes lots of activities
- Great place for solo travelers
Beds from 35 NZD.
New Zealand has some incredible hostels to stay in, but to me, these are the best the country has to offer. If you have others to add, leave them in the comments. If you’ve stayed in any of these, let me know what you think too!
Book Your Trip to New Zealand: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on New Zealand?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on New Zealand for even more planning tips!