Throughout my entire trip in New Zealand and ever since returning home, I’ve been debating whether or not I should talk about the best and worst hostels I stayed at. Part of me doesn’t wants to publicly shame anyone as I don’t know the reasons why some hostels performed so poorly. Yet, then again, as a paying customer, I believe it is my obligation to warn other travellers. When travelling to another, sometimes distant, country, the hostel or hotel you stay at becomes your temporary home.
It is said that you get what you pay for, but that is not true when it comes to hostels. On average, I payed 20 – 30 New Zealand dollar per night and per bed during my time in New Zealand. Yet, some hostels where stunning while others felt like a living nightmare.
Before I’ll list my list of fame and shame, I’ll briefly explain what I’m looking for when booking a hostel. I booked most of my hostels via hostelworld.com which, in theory, allows you to compare hostels and read reviews in order for you to pick the best one. In practice, only few people (incl myself, I have to admit) rarely write negative reviews. Most people are more inclined to leave positive reviews rather than negative ones. So sometimes, I booked a hostel with one of the highest ratings only to find out that this rating must’ve came from better days.
So what am I looking for in a hostel?
Security: Can you lock your dormroom? Is there are secure storage options?
Facilities: How clean are the kitchen and bathroom? How many sockets are there in each room?
Location: Is it really as close to the centre as it claims to be? How far are the nearest public transport options?
While the three best hostel received the highest points in all three categories, the worst 3 received barely any at all.
My Best 3 Hostels in New Zealand
Rock Solid Backpackers, Rotorua
1140 Hinemoa street, Downtown Rotorua
I enjoyed my stay at Rock Solid Backpackers in Rotorua very much. The security is as good as it gets. While there is a community area everyone can enter, the actual dorm rooms and facilities can only be entered as paying guests. Keys, security codes, security cameras, and storage facilities in each room makes you and your belongings feel safe and secure. The staff has been kind and helpful and you are really as central as it gets. The kitchen was well equipped and large. The community bathroom had also an adequate size (& was cleaned each morning!) for a hostel so you never had to wait.
Adventure Q2 Hostel, Queenstown
Level 1, 5 Athol Street, Queenstown
This hostel is literally 10 steps away from the bus stop in Queenstown, right in the middle of everything. You (almost) can’t get any closer to where the action happens. What I loved about this hostel were the beds in the dorm room. Each bed had a little curtain, giving you some privacy despite being in a 6-bed dorm room. Moreover, each bed, even the top bunk had a small closet, a lamp, and sockets. No need to fight for sockets to charge all your electronic devices! Again, the kitchen and bathrooms were modern, clean, and well equipped. As for security, again, everything had the highest standard.
Absoloot Value Accommodation, Queenstown
50 Beach St, Queenstown
I wanted to list a hostel from a different city, but the truth is that two of the best hostels I stayed at were in Queenstown even though I’m not a big fan of Queenstown itself!
This hostel had the most stunning view of all. In the clean and well-equipped kitchen was a large window looking down on Lake Wakatipu. If you’re an early bird like me, you’ll be rewarded with stunning sunrises over Lake Wakatipu. Just as in the case of the other two hostels, the facilities were clean and security was great. Again, I really enjoyed my stay at Absoloot Value and felt safe and secure.
Before we move on to my worst hostels, here are two honorable mentions: YHA in Te Anau and the YHA Finlay Jacks Backpackers in Taupo. Both were good hostels, but lacked the high security and facility quality my top 3 had.
My Worst 3 Hostels in New Zealand
Oh boy, the next three hostels were utterly terrible and I don’t recommend them to anyone. Seriously, don’t get fooled by their low standards into thinking that “this is what you get for staying at low-budget hostels”. You can, and you will find much better accommodation options for the same price in New Zealand!
Borders Beyond, Auckland
8 Nixon St Ponsonby, Auckland
This is, by far, the worst hostel I stayed at in New Zealand. The security was non-existent as it was the only hostel I received no keys at all. Yep, no keys to the front door and no keys to my dorm room. In other words, everyone could enter this hostel and each dorm room at any time. In fact, one night at 2am or so, some random drunk girl entered our dorm room looking for someone who didn’t belong to our room. There were also no lockers or other secure storage facilities so if you wanted to lock or store something away for a few hours, you had to store it at the front-desks’ office. However, the worst thing was the kitchen-shower-community area. First of all, everything has seen its better and certainly cleaner days. Toilets were divided by gender which was rather useless considering that the community shower are (not divided by gender) was more or less right in the kitchen and community area. The showers were, quite literally, next to the kitchen-sink.
9 O’Reily Ave, Wellington
Similar to the Borders Beyond in Auckland, the Trek Global had a rather, let’s say, interesting bathroom-kitchen area where the unisex bathrooms are next to the kitchen area on the upper levels. The security was alright as this hostel is colour-coded into different sections with unique keys and codes. The kitchen in my colour-area, however, was terrible. I haven’t seen it cleaned at all during my stay and it looked as if it needed a desperate overhaul. It was, in fact, the only kitchen in New Zealand that had ants. This is almost a miracle considering that it was on the 4th floor and had no windows.
The Art House Backpackers, Napier
259 Marine Parade, Napier
Once again, security? None-existent. Facilities? Old and dirty. Storage? None-existent. I really liked Napier, but the Art House Backpackers was a disaster. The bunk-beds were those metal ones that are suuuuper unstable and move and squeak every time to take a deep breath. While my dorm-room had a beautiful view on Napier bay, it was not worth it.
Here are two dishonourable mentions because they were among my worst hostels, but not as bad as my top three: Manor House Backpackers in Dunedin and Nomads Capital Backpackers in Wellington.
What categories are you looking at when booking a hostel? Which hostels in New Zealand were your best and worst? Leave a comment down below!