What are the Must-Stays for Backpackers on the North Island?
Hostels are a great way to save money for the things that really matter on your trip around New Zealand. From the super social hostels to hostels that you will want to leave as soon as you can, every hostel provides a different experience. Nevertheless, there are a few “backpackers”, as we prefer to say in New Zealand, that are a cut above the rest. Our list of the best hostels in North Island features some of the top-rated hostels in the country.
We think that you should make your hostel stay a real experience and a true part of your trip, so it’s worth picking them carefully. We have spent months testing most hostels (but admittedly not all so bear this in mind when thinking “why isn’t so-and-so hostel on this list?!”) in the country to come up with our recommendations of best hostels on the North Island.
Here are some hostels that we consider unmissable when cruising through the North Island of beautiful New Zealand. When you head south, don’t miss our 10 BEST Hostels in the South Island selection!
1. Raglan Backpackers (Raglan)
Owned by two devoted surfers, Raglan Backpackers is well… a surfer’s dream! Pushing hard on the social aspect of backpacking, there is free internet available but only on computers labelled “Porn Corner”. Instead, you’re encouraged to chat with each other, should it be during make your own pizza night (sharing mandatory) or in the spa pool in the middle of the garden courtyard. Surf gear and “the surf car” are available for you to make the most of in the world-class waves of the area. All in all, we rate it one of the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Raglan!
Check Raglan Backpackers out:
2. The Marion Hostel (Wellington)
The Marion Hostel might be primarily for budgeting backpackers, but even more luxurious travellers can’t turn their nose up at this stylish Wellington hostel! Renovated with love inside a historical building, the hostel offers the ultimate “flashpacker” experience, boasting pod-style dorm beds with a privacy curtain, personal power sockets and a drawer-style locker. You’ll also find the communal kitchen, indoor dining area and rooftop outdoor dining area are awesome places to relax. As an ultra-popular hostel, The Marion also tops the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Wellington.
Check The Marion Hostel out:
- The Marion Hostel on Booking.com
- The Marion Hostel on HostelWorld
- The Marion Hostel on Trip.com
- The Marion Hostel on Expedia
3. River Valley Lodge (Taihape)
One of the most unique hostels in New Zealand, River Valley Lodge is much more than a hostel. White water rafting, hikes, horse riding and a gold mining era-inspired river crossing are only the beginning. This (very well) hidden gem in the heart of the Manawatu-Wanganui region is absolutely worth getting off the beaten track for.
Check River Valley Lodge out:
- River Valley Lodge on Booking.com
- River Valley Lodge on HostelWorld
- River Valley Lodge on Trip.com
- River Valley Lodge on Expedia
4. Haka Lodge Auckland (Auckland)
The superb pod (or capsule) hostel is a great take on the original capsule hostel concept from Japan. It offers the best of both worlds: a social space to meet travellers and privacy at night. Haka Lodge Auckland is refreshingly spacious for a city hostel, not to mention that the decor is pretty swarve. However, the secret is out about this hostel situated on Karangahape Road (K Road), so you’ll want to book a little in advance to get a bed! See how the hostel compares to the 30 Best Backpacker Hostels in Auckland.
Check Haka Lodge Auckland out:
- Haka Lodge Auckland on Booking.com
- Haka Lodge Auckland on HostelWorld
- Haka Lodge Auckland on Expedia
5. Pacific Coast Lodge (Mt Maunganui)
Pacific Coast Lodge is not a central hostel by any means. Located in the suburb of Mt Maunganui, it is just out of the busy city or Tauranga, yet it is one of our favourite hostels in Tauranga. Like many other hostels on this list, one of the things we love the most about Pacific Coast Lodge is its social take on backpacking. From potluck dinner nights to game nights, you’re bound to meet some cool people! Plus, if you want to stay longer, they’ll help you find a job! Find out more in How a Working Hostel in New Zealand Can Help You Find a Job.
Check Pacific Coast Lodge out:
- Pacific Coast Lodge at pacificcoastlodge.co.nz
6. Ducks & Drakes Boutique Motel & Backpackers (New Plymouth)
New Plymouth has a lot to offer to backpackers from surf to museums to street art and awesome locals. Our favourite hostel in town is Duck & Drakes, which is sort of an art gallery in itself. The colourful hostel even hosts live gigs from time to time. Plus, we love the big communal areas that are great to make new friends and cooking together. Learn more about the hostel in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in New Plymouth & Taranaki.
Check Ducks & Drakes out:
- Ducks & Drakes on Booking.com
- Ducks & Drakes on HostelWorld
- Ducks & Drakes on Trip.com
- Ducks & Drakes on Expedia
7. Station Lodge (Ohakune)
This characterful backpacker hostel at a railway station is located in Ohakune on the edge of the Tongariro National Park. Enjoy the proximity of mountain bike trails, shuttles to the Tongariro Crossing, and bars and clubs that come alive in winter for the ski season at Mt Ruapehu. There’s a free spa pool, an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven, bikes for going to town (and mountain bikes to hire) and more.
Check Station Lodge out:
8. Finlay Jack’s (Taupo)
That’s right, there’s another epic pod hostel, this time in Taupo. The pod beds at Finley Jack’s are custom-built complete with blinds for privacy, a personal USB charging station, a reading light, storage space for your bags and even two pillows! Wow! Some dorms even have an ensuite, while others have just standard bunks so be sure to ask for a pod room if you want one. As for communal areas, relax in the sun-soaked courtyard or the lounge with video games, Netflix and free WiFi or cook up a storm in the kitchen. There are plenty of other awesome hostels nearby, so check them out in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Taupo.
Check Finlay Jack’s out:
9. Juno Hall Backpackers (Waitomo)
One of your most affordable options only moments away from Waitomo’s top caving and glowworm tours, Juno Hall Backpackers provides an ultra-homely vibe that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside after a long day in the caves. Cosy up around the fireplace, feed the lambs or play with the goats and get tips for more hidden gems from your welcoming hosts. We also like that they have powered sites too if you’re travelling by campervan. See more places to stay in the 10 BEST Budget Accommodations in Waitomo.
Check Juno Hall Backpackers out:
- Juno Hall Backpackers on Booking.com
- Juno Hall Backpackers on HostelWorld
- Juno Hall Backpackers on Trip.com
10. Hone Heke Lodge (Bay of Islands)
Named after an iconic Maori warrior, Hone Heke Lodge is a true “flashpackers” in Kerikeri. Lodged in between native trees and singing birds, the hostel screams paradise. It is hard to describe how great it feels to check-in at this backpackers in New Zealand’s warmest region, which the hostel takes advantage of with open-air communal areas. From the get-go, you know that you will lose track of time. See more hostels in the area in our 10 Best Backpacker Hostels in the Bay of Islands.
[CLOSED] Crash Palace
Crash Palace’s motto should be “We’ll make sure you have a good time!” with activities almost every night in a great-looking hostel. Super colourful with New Zealand art all over the walls, it just screams fun! No wonder it is one of our favourite hostels in Rotorua.
Pro Tip: the most famous hostel in Rotorua is best when waking up on a Sunday with free pancake breakfast. Yum!
[CLOSED] Taupo Urban Retreat
Taupo Urban Retreat is the ultimate social hostel, with a huge communal area and tons of stuff to do, from books, movies, a pool table and even a bar! Yep, the hostel has a bar in its communal area. How cool is that!? It is not surprising that Taupo Urban Retreat tops our favourite hostels in Taupo.
[CLOSED] Mousetrap Backpackers
Located in the heart of beautiful Paihia, Mousetrap Backpackers is your home away from home. It’s a great option for your stay in the Bay of Islands with cosy lounges, balconies and gardens. Check out more great hostels on our list of 8 Best Backpacker Hostels in Paihia.
More Awesome Hostels in New Zealand
That’s it for our list of the best backpacker hostels on the North Island of New Zealand. For more epic places to stay, as well as to learn more about staying in New Zealand hostels, check out some of our ridiculously useful guides:
- 15 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand
- What are Pod Hostels (and Why You Have to Try Them in New Zealand)?
- 12 Things to Do in a Hostel on a Rainy Day
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.