New Zealand is known for being one of, if not the most backpacker-friendly countries in the world. With all the diverse topography and amazing landscapes, it’s not hard to see why. In 2013, more than 2.7 million people from every corner of the globe entered New Zealand, and travelers from the United States were the third most frequent tourists of all. In fact, of the total 2.7 million travelers who went last year, nearly 10% of them were from the U.S.
While not exactly a familiar concept to many Westerners, the most common lodging accommodations throughout New Zealand are hostels. Typically, you’ll “bunk” with 4-6 other travelers in the same room (sometimes literally on bunk beds) and share bathroom facilities. I’m told not to expect much privacy. Luckily, I don’t require much. If you know me, you know I’m not shy.
In my reading prior to leaving the States, I’ve several well-established networks of hostels that go throughout New Zealand. The largest is the BBH World Travelers Backpackers Network, with more than 275 listings throughout the North and South Island. They have a Club Card you can purchase for $45 NZD that gives you a $3 NZD discount for each night you stay at any of their hostels. If you’re planning on backpacking for more than 15 nights, the card pays for itself.
Beyond that discount, there are other perks to having a BBH card, including tour discounts, guaranteed hostel pricing, transportation savings, and other deals. The membership also comes with a $20 NZD phone card for domestic and international calls. If you plan far enough ahead, you can purchase the BBH Club Card before you travel and use it to make your reservations. If, like me, you’ve cut yourself too short on planning time (whether intentional or not), you can purchase the card in person when you get there.
Lastly, there’s a mobile app that you can use to locate BBH hostels (and others) while you’re out and about. From what I’ve found, the app is only for Android smartphones. It’s a free download, which you can find in the Resources section below.
Typical nightly hostel prices, from what I’ve found, start around $20 NZD for a 6-person dorm style room and range upwards of $75 NZD for a private room. Many of them provide bedding and towels, but it’s still not a bad idea to have those things with you just in case. Some of them have amenities like air conditioning and WiFi, while others are more bare bones. Plan accordingly.
I’m genuinely looking forward to experiencing hostel life for the three weeks I’ll be backpacking across New Zealand. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, sharing our experiences, and stepping outside the comfort zone of American culture to embrace something entirely new. As always, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
Resources for You:
[Photo via Base Auckland Hostel]