Hostels to stay around the North Island of New Zealand

Sharing my experiences amongst all the hostels/hotels I’ve stayed in during my almost month-long backpacking around the North Island of New Zealand. I will be arranging the hostels via different criteria such as location, comfortability, cleanliness, staff, price, and facilities. The hostels that I’ll be reviewing are:

  • Nomads Auckland Backpackers (near Queen street, around CBD area)
  • Base – Pipi Patch (King street near Paihia beach)
  • Saltwater Lodge Hostel (King street near Paihia beach)
  • Hot Water Beach Holiday Park (near Hot Water beach)
  • Hotel Kiwi Paka (Waitomo)
  • Base – Hot Rocks (Rotorua)
  • Base (Taupo)
  • River Valley Lodge
  • Base – Wellington
  • U Boutique Hotel (Wellington near Cuba street)
  • Urban Retreat (Taupo)

Please note that these are my personal experiences, some people might have different experience too. Also, I didn’t include the price because some of the hostels were booked via Kiwi Experience thus price varies. Also, I did not bother inserting photos that I didn’t take cos’ when I search the photos on the internet, everything is just an “expectation” photo and not the real ones.

11. Nomads Auckland Backpackers (near Queen street, around CBD area)

WORST hostel experience, stayed here for three times but I just couldn’t use my last booking because the place is just so dirty and crowdy. I cannot blame for the place to be really crowdy cos’ it’s near Queen street, my problem is, most of the rooms are really dirty (even the ones with the en suite toilet), the staff weren’t really that helpful and the kitchen is crazy dirty to the point where I wasn’t able to use any utensil. I highly suggest to just check out other hostels in CBD, there are lots anyways.

Tip#1: If you’re quite picky with the linens, etc., just bring your own blanket or sleeping bags that you can use to cover the linens. Some linens doesn’t look and smell clean and fresh.

10. Base – Hot Rocks (Rotorua)

Base hostels are in generaly good and clean, my problem with this place is that we were staying at a 20-bed dorm (I think?) and we only had one toilet and shower for everyone in the room. There IS an extram toilet and shower near the reception, but it’s kind of dirty and old. To be fair, the toilet and shower IN THE ROOM were both clean, but the room just smells like shit. It seems that the smell of the geothermal stuff (which smells like rotten eggs) already stuck in the rooms.

9. Base – Wellington

My experience is quite better, cos’ well they agreed with my request to put me in a room where I can stay in a bottom bunk, fortunately I stayed alone in a 6-bed dorm, so I basically had a “private room” LOL. UNFORTUNATELY, amongst all the dorms that I stayed in, the linens in the dorm doesn’t look that they are being replaced every time its used, so just be really careful and check the beds. The “locker” under the bed cannot be used because it’s broken, almost the same as the other dorms that I stayed in a city.

Tip#2: Just bring your own padlock and a padlock that you usually use with a bike to just lock the zippers and your bag in the bed post, most especially if you’re traveling around and wouldn’t be able to bring your bags all the time.

8. Urban Retreat (Taupo)

Upgraded my room from a dorm to a “private room” and it cost me around NZD 70, unfortunately I wasn’t able to relax AT ALL. My room has one queen size bed and one double deck bed, and full of insects around… even if I use tons of insect repellant at the end of the day the insects still finds a way to bite me. There are no windows in my room but the room has its own air conditioner, also for its price I didn’t have my own toilet. So I highly suggest that you don’t book a private room in this hostel so as to not waste any of your money.

Tip#3: ALWAYS bring your own insect repellant cos’ you’ll never know when you’re going to need it… BADLY.

7. Base – Pipi Patch (King street near Paihia beach)

The dorm was okay.. for its price. You get to have your own en suite toilet and a “dressing area” in an 8-bed dormitory with sliding doors. Basically a good hostel near Paihia beach with lots of partying. Would highly recommend to those who likes to drink and party.

6. Hotel Kiwi Paka (Waitomo)

Kind of subjective in putting this in number 6 cos’ I actually stayed in a double bed room with two big beds, it’s an old hostel with good facilities, it has a kind of big kitchen for the guests, my problem here is that they only have two toilets and showers for the whole floor, aside from that the place was good and the view is beautiful too. PLUS is the pub near the hostel, the only pub in the area.

5. River Valley Lodge

Personally when I stayed here, I stayed in a big private room that cost me around NZD 150… I know, kind of expensive BUT, I think it’s the most worth NZD 150 stay of my life. For starters, I had my own heater (mind you, the area of River Valley Lodge is very far from other places, therefore, you cannot go anywhere but around the hostel. The only activity is to do rafting or horse-back riding for non-beginners); because the place is far flung — there’s no signal so luckily if you get the private room you get to have access of the wifi (which you need to pay per hour if you’re staying in either a bunk bed dorm, or one big bed with lots of mattress); I also get to have access to the spa area, which is mainly for the private room people; my own room heater, which I badly need, twas summer… but damn it was really cold! I wonder what it feels like if it’s on a winter…; comfortable bed with really good comforter; drinks such as: coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, which you need to pay if you’re not staying in the room; a quiet private room away from the noisy bar (some private rooms is just above the bar which is basically beside the speakers so twas so noisy the whole night); and lastly the most important of all… my own toilet and shower. Cos’ they only have limited SHARED outdoor toilets and showers for everyone staying at the hostel, and the doors does not tightly close the whole space, which makes using the toilet and shower uncomfortable. In toto, I must say that I really utilized what I paid for most especially if you’d been on the road for so long, twas really worth it. The place is quiet and beautiful, you can swim in the river, and the place is just relaxing. DOWNSIDE, if you’re not into these activities you won’t be able to do anything but drink – private rooms doesn’t have TVs too, when we went there the coffee maker wasn’t working which gave us with no choice, and the food is really limited and expensive. I’d suggest for you to bring your own food if you want to save some dollars.

4. U Boutique Hotel (Wellington near Cuba street)

The place wasn’t really a hostel, but it’s kind of cheaper in comparison to other hotels in Wellington. Actually for the price, it was quite expensive cos’ you only get a private room but the toilet and shower is shared, aside from that the room is really beautiful. My room has all the things that I need, for starters a cabled TV (AT LAST!!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!), a mini refrigerator with a complimentary milk for my coffee and tea, a bath robe, some towels, a room and towel heater, a desk, some lights, and a very comfortable bed. Aside from that they have a very friendly staff who for starters agreed to check me in before 10am and give me breakfast in the room (buffet breakfast is included and I requested for some food to be delivered the day before cos’ I need to leave before their breakfast time and the location is really near-walking distance level the Cuba street – where there are lots of stores, restaurants, and pubs. The only cons is that you cannot do laundry after 7pm and that there will be no receptionist after 7pm.

3. Base (Taupo)

We stayed here after Base – Rotorua so I actually expected THE WORST experience again. Lo and behold, I was surprised we were in a 4-bed dormitory with a good view and a big en suite toilet and shower. The room is quite small, BUT it looks really clean – it kinda feels like the hostel is new. The laundry room can be used until 11pm, the kitchen and dining area is bigger than others, they even have outdoor tables. The receptionist is very attentive that time, giving me some extras in the laundry, and the location is in the CBD in Taupo. Twas superb for its price.

2. Saltwater Lodge Hostel (King street near Paihia beach)

Stayed here after one night in Pipi Patch – which is like just beside Pipi Patch. If you’d prefer a quieter-more family-friendly hostel, this is the place to go to. They have quiet rooms, the common area is just outside the room that has tables and chairs that you can use – outside the room they also provide access for a free wifi. Inside, the room is very spacious with really big beds and OMG A COMFORTER PER BED THAT IS FIXED LIKE A HOTEL BED – huh, first for a hostel. I stayed in a 4-bed dorm with an en suite toliet and shower and inside the room, the hostel provides microwave, utensils, and big cabinets. The price is slightly higher than Pipi Patch, but you’ll definitely get the worth of what you paid for.

1. Hot Water Beach Holiday Park (near Hot Water beach)

BEST HOSTEL EVER. Prolly because we were a group so we didn’t mind who we are with per lodge. The lodge has two rooms with 8 beds – one of which is a double bed; per lodge there is a microwave and some utensils and a separate room for two toilets and showers. The lodges looks fairly new so it was really comfortable. Outside the lodge are benches and tables, and a fairly big kitchen where you can cook and all. The hostel is fairly near the hot water beach around 200 meters – they actually have a walk path to the beach from the hostel. The restaurant provides different meal (quite expensive, but if you didn’t buy groceries, you do not have other choice outside the hostel). It’s basically a big space where you can either rent lodges, rooms, and spaces where you can camp. They also have many facilities so one place wouldn’t be too overcrowded. Aside from these, if you are planning to dig the sand in the hot water beach, you can borrow from their receptionist so no need to worry. In toto, this won the bang in the bucks hostel stay for me.

I hope this’ll help you in looking for hostels or if you’re booking with Kiwi Experience. Please do be reminded that almost all hostels, aside from the Urban Retreat in Taupo, are dry hostels, meaning they do not allow alcohol inside their premises.

See you! xx

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