What are the Must-Stays for Backpackers on the South Island?
Travelling on a budget on the South Island of New Zealand does not mean staying in dark cold bunk dorms for the length of your trip. New Zealand‘s wildest island has tons of characterful hostels owned by locals who work hard every day in making sure budget travellers fully enjoy their time in their backyard. So, where are the best hostels on the South Island?
From the artsy hostel with murals to brighten your day to themed hostels or simply a hostel with a great vibe, there is something for everybody on the South Island. In fact, most of the highest-rated hostels in the country are on the South Island. Here is our selection of the best “backpackers”, as we say in New Zealand, on the South Island.
When you head north, don’t miss our 10 BEST Hostels in the North Island selection!
1. Tombstone Backpackers (Picton)
Who knew that a cemetery theme for a hostel was such a great idea?! Tombstone Backpackers is an awesome first hostel stay when stepping into the South Island through Picton. Not only does the hostel have epic facilities, like a spa pool, games tables and bike hire, but the thing that truly makes them epic is the fact that they serve freshly-baked scones every morning! There are some other awesome hostels in town too, so check them out in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Picton.
Check Tombstone Backpackers out:
- Tombstone Backpackers on Booking.com
- Tombstone Backpackers on HostelWorld
- Tombstone Backpackers on Trip.com
- Tombstone Backpackers on Expedia
2. Tasman Bay Backpackers (Nelson)
Free chocolate pudding every… single… night! Should we really elaborate? This alone makes Tasman Bay Backpackers one of our favourite hostels in Nelson. And the competition in New Zealand’s sunniest town is tough, as this is home to many of the best hostels in the country – just see the 9 Best Backpacker Hostels in Nelson! With spot-on facilities, a well-maintained hostel, fun staff and great clientele, it deserves its spot among the top.
Check Tasman Bay Backpackers out:
- Tasman Bay Backpackers on Booking.com
- Tasman Bay Backpackers on HostelWorld
- Tasman Bay Backpackers on Trip.com
- Tasman Bay Backpackers on Expedia
3. Oamaru Backpackers (Oamaru)
New, fresh and tasteful, the Oamaru Backpackers makes you feel like you’re staying in an upscale B&B rather than a hostel. Located in the Steampunk and Little Blue Penguin Capital of New Zealand, Oamaru, the small hostel is quickly making it to the top of the list of the must-stay hostels on the South Island thanks to the genuine care of its staff and spotless facilities. We love the sunny lounge areas with elevated views of the ocean, as well as the kitchen with a dishwasher (?!) See more of the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Oamaru.
Check Oamaru Backpackers out:
4. Jailhouse Accommodation (Christchurch)
Themed hostels are a big thing on the South Island, and Christchurch has its share with Jailhouse Accommodation. You guessed it, Jailhouse is an old prison converted into a hostel. Don’t worry, there is no warden and no curfew in effect. However, there is a props room where you can get some funny jail-themed photos. What’s more, Jailhouse has such a unique feel that it has won a spot on our 15 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand. And don’t forget to compare hostels in the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Christchurch.
Check Jailhouse Accommodation out:
- Jailhouse Accommodation on Booking.com
- Jailhouse Accommodation on HostelWorld
- Jailhouse Accommodation on Trip.com
- Jailhouse Accommodation on Expedia
5. Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School (Westport)
After a day down at the beach or taking on the many hikes and mountain bike tracks around Westport, there’s no place we’d rather be than on the hammocks of Bazil’s courtyard or watching a movie by the fire. A couple of surf buddies at the helm of the hostel have made this a cool and colourful place with the whole building turned into a piece of art. Literally, every wall is covered by a mural made by one of their past employees! Learn more about this “sweet as” stay in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Westport.
Check Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School out:
- Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School on Booking.com
- Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School on HostelWorld
- Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School on Trip.com
- Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School on Expedia
6. Global Village Backpackers (Greymouth)
With global artwork around every corner, Global Village Backpackers is a super vibrant hostel! But that’s not all this awesome hostel in Greymouth has going for it, as you can make use of free kayak hire for exploring the neighbouring Lake Karoro and bike hire to explore the local area. At the end of the end, relax in the spa pool or the Finnish sauna before retreating to your dorm or private room.
Check Global Village Backpackers out:
- Global Village Backpackers on Booking.com
- Global Village Backpackers on HostelWorld
- Global Village Backpackers on Trip.com
- Global Village Backpackers on Expedia
7. Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers (Te Anau)
On the edge of Te Anau town on the way to Milford Sound, Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers is a spacious and well-equipped backpackers with everything you need for an affordable and, more importantly, fun stay! There’s a warm and friendly vibe here, helped by your gracious hosts, while there are comfortable places to relax – the fireplace in the main lounge is a popular hangout. Make use of the BBH discount and check out the nearby alpaca farm that has been entertaining guests for years!
Check Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers out:
- Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers on Booking.com
- Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers on HostelWorld
- Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers on Trip.com
- Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers on Expedia
8. Adventure Inn Marahau (Abel Tasman)
Right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park, Adventure Inn Marahau is an accommodation exclusively for backpackers with only six-bed and eight-bed dorms available. They’re pretty awesome dorms at that, with each bed featuring its own charging port and personal lamp. And that’s not all! Relax with a movie in the 20-seat cinema room, play a game of pool, pick up a coffee from The Bus Stop Diner, and cook up a storm in the communal kitchen or outside in the barbecue area.
Check Adventure Inn Marahau out:
- Adventure Inn Marahau on Booking.com
- Adventure Inn Marahau on HostelWorld
- Adventure Inn Marahau on Trip.com
- Adventure Inn Marahau on Expedia
9. Adventure Queenstown Hostel (Queenstown)
You’re made to feel right at home in Adventure Queenstown Hostel with personalised welcome messages left on every bed in every dorm! The hostel in New Zealand’s “Adventure Capital” boasts sun-drenched (most of the time) balconies to relax on with fellow travellers and awesome pod-style dorm beds with privacy curtains. Don’t forget to check out their little sister hostel too, Adventure Q2.
Check Adventure Queenstown Hostel out:
- Adventure Queenstown Hostel on Booking.com
- Adventure Queenstown Hostel on HostelWorld
- Adventure Queenstown Hostel on Expedia
10. Punakaiki Beach Hostel (Punakaiki)
With a location like this, you’d expect to be at a luxury resort! Punakaiki Beach Hostel has great views of the ocean from the wild West Coast all over the property with some relaxing lounge areas both inside and out. With a stellar beachfront location, heaps of games, an outdoor seating area and colourful decor, there’s plenty to make you want to stay longer.
Check Punakaiki Beach Hostel out:
Onuku Farm Hostel is another hostel that is reason enough to get off the beaten track. In the heart of the Banks Peninsula, the hostel is all you would dream off: stargazing roofs, no roads around, kayaks to hire, little blue penguins and dolphins are seen regularly. Plus, it is almost entirely self-sustainable. No wonder it is on our list of most unique hostels in New Zealand. Plus, check out more 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Akaroa.
The Harry Potter-themed hostel is a flashpacker by definition. No bunk beds, large rooms, awesome facilities, central location and even serviced laundry. Owned and operated by a passionate international couple, the hostel is our top choice in the great city of Dunedin.
What about staying on a boat for a change? The most surprising entry in our most unique backpacker hostels in New Zealand list has to be Aquapackers, a boat hostel anchoring near the golden sand beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park. Spaces are heavily limited so book early. Plus, see more 6 Best Backpacker Hostels in Abel Tasman National Park.
More Awesome Hostels in New Zealand
That’s it for our list of the best backpacker hostels on the South 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
- New Zealand Hostel Networks: BBH, Backpacker Group or Nomads?
- How to Live in a Hostel: The Customs & Unspoken Rules
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.