There are a huge range of places to stay in New Zealand, and something to fit every budget, from backpacker hostels to swanky apart hotels. Tim and I are firmly in the backpacker budget accommodation category and we found that we could get a lot more for our money in some places (Christchurch) and very little for our money in others (Nelson). Although some of this might have to do with the fact that we were booking last minute! Here is my guide to the best budget hostels in New Zealand.
Here’s a quick run through where we stayed for our 10 night trip to NZ and what I thought of them! (All $ prices for all of my New Zealand posts are in NZD)
While you’re here, check out these posts to get ready for your trip to New Zealand;
- How To Backpack around Australia and New Zealand on a Budget.
- How To Backpack Around New Zealand Without a Car or Camper Van
- Marlborough Wine Tours | How To Plan The Best Trip At The Cheapest Price
- The TranzAlpine Train | Tickets, Prices and How To Book Your Journey
- Planning Your Trip To The Abel Tasman National Park
- Backpacking Essentials Checklist: Packing Guide For All The Gear You Need
Accommodation: The Setup on Dixon
A clean, modern backpacker hostel with shared bathroom and kitchen. We paid $66 / £35 / €40 per night for a double room with a shared bathroom. Double rooms with a private bathroom are $95 / £50 / €57 per night and dorm beds start from $26 / £14 / €15. The room comes with free limited wifi – 500mb for our entire stay.
It had a great kitchen, was extremely clean and the bed was super comfortable. Also the location was great, we walked everywhere and it’s right by Cuba street. They also provided towels, tea / coffee facilities and a fridge in the rooms which isn’t the norm for a hostel so we appreciated that touch. If you’re a solo traveller this would be a good place to meet other backpackers as many people hang out in the kitchen and living room area.
The bathrooms are shared and the rooms are pretty small. The walls are thin so if you have noisy neighbours you will definitely hear them! We had what sounded like a family of 10 in the double room next door who woke us up a lot, but walking around the rest of the hostel I couldn’t hear much so I think we were just unlucky.
Accommodation: The Palace Backpacker Hostel
Don’t let the name fool you, this is a no frills grungy backpacker hostel. The rooms start from $32 / £17 / €19 per night for a dorm room and we paid $74 / £39 / €44 for a double room with shared bathroom. The rooms come with fast free WiFi, free breakfast and it’s a great place to meet and hang out with other backpackers.
Pros: it’s very close to the Intercity and Naked bus stops that take you to the Abel Tasman park so this is a good place to stay if you’re going to the park. It’s also close to the Main Street, a camping store (TheWarehouse) and a Countdown (grocery store). Rooms are cheap and the staff are backpackers themselves so are really friendly and welcoming. There’s a well equipped, huge kitchen with free breakfast, tea, coffee and cakes from the local bakery each day. There’s also lots of shared spaces where you can meet people and chat to fellow backpackers about where they’ve been and what to do. They have a music room, tv room, an outdoor hammock area and big living room you can hang out in.
The decor is a little drab and dated, kind of like your grans house with mismatched furniture and dusty carpets. It can be a little tricky to get the hot water going in the showers but you’ll get there with a little persistence. We slept in our sleeping bag liners and covered the pillows with our own cases as the bedding felt a little dirty and worn to comfortably sleep on.
Accommodation: Breakfree on Cashel
A compact capsule style hotel room with an onsite restaurant / bar, free WiFi, en suite bathroom with toiletries and towels. We paid $76 / £40 / €45 for a double room with a private bathroom. There were tea / coffee and ironing facilities in the room – a room with an ironing board is something you’ll come to appreciate when you’re backpacking.
This place is extremely good value for money and ridiculously comfortable – I never wanted to leave that bed!! It was also the first place we had our own bathroom which I will never take for granted. Water was hot, bed was huge and there was room service also. It’s in the centre of town so you can walk anywhere you need to. Staff were so lovely and while we didn’t have the breakfast downstairs it looked and smelled amazing for only $19 so if you have time I’d check that out.
Hmmm, I’m not sure I have any! At a push I would say that they have a console next to the bed which you can use to set an alarm and turn on and off lights but the screen is extremely bright which makes it hard to sleep. We threw a jumper over it! But I’m really reaching for problems here….
Accommodation: Lake Outlet campsite.
We camped at Lake Outlet campsite in Wanaka, which is a lakefront site a little bit out of town. We didn’t book anything in advance and all other campsites in the town were booked so we called up these guys and they said they were full but to come along and they’d find us something. Turns out they always keep some spots for backpackers that are stuck for a place to park for the night! We paid $44 / £22 / 26 for an unpowered site.
Because the sites are spread out, the campsite was really quiet despite there being many people there. The staff are super friendly and can help you out with things to do in the area. They also have a store at reception if you need water or food. The bbq facilities are also pretty food.
We couldn’t find fresh water, the water from the taps there came directly from the lake. Some people still drank it, which seems to be the norm around Wanaka, but with Tim being ill we decided to boil it first. The showers, while spacious and clean, are $1 for 5 mins of hot water. If you don’t have $1 coins, or are particularly grimey then you’ll have to go without.
Accommodation: St James apartments
One and two bedroom executive apartments in the city centre with balconies and good views. This was an absolute panic book when Tim was at his sickest and we realised we couldn’t stay in the camper as we had planned. 90% of hotels were booked out so we had very little choice and this was the cheapest option on booking.com that wasn’t hostel bunk beds. We reserved a two bedroom apartment for $375 / £200 / €225 for the night (I still wince thinking about it) and I don’t feel like it was worth the money.
Close to the centre of Queenstown, clean, comfortable, spacious and there’s a balcony with a table and chairs. There’s also a Skybox and Netflix built into the tv. There is tea / coffee and milk in the kitchen, and fluffy towels and toiletries in the bathroom. There’s secure on site parking and free, fast WiFi.
I don’t feel like it was worth the money for two, but if you could cram a few more people in here then maybe! Check in time is 3pm (!!) and checkout is 10am, they won’t let you check in a minute earlier and charge you if you over stay even by 15 minutes. Also there was never anyone on reception when we went down.
Accommodation: Glenorchy Hotel
A backpacker hotel in the centre of the town with an onsite bar and restaurant, the Glenorchy hotel is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. There’s a lovely beer garden and gorgeous views of the nearby mountains from the rooms and the bar. There’s onsite parking too and free WiFi. We paid $115 / £69 / €69 for a double room with shared bathroom for the night.
Clean rooms, comfy beds, tea / coffee facilities and a tv in the room. (I never know why tv is listed as a pro, when I doubt people ever really use hotel TVs but I feel like I should include it). The shared bathrooms are clean and there’s also a bath if you feel like unwinding after a long hike. The food in the bar is really tasty and the price is excellent! They offer cooked breakfast from $10 and lunch from $7.50. The views from the bedroom are spectacular!
The showers aren’t super powerful, but that’s about it!
I hope this was helpful for you if you’re planning your trip to NZ. Feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments! If you have been to New Zealand and would like to recommend a nice place that you stayed then let our readers know by commenting below 🙂
Thanks for reading,