12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Jucy Snooze
12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]

15 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2024]

© Jucy Snooze
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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The Weirdest Places You’ll Ever Stay as a Backpacker!

Staying in a hostel in New Zealand doesn’t just have to be about finding a cheap bed for the night. Some backpacker hostels are a unique experience in themselves, whether it’s a unique theme giving the place character or a renovated historic prison! Some of the quirkiest accommodations, however, can be found off the beaten track. These lodges usually offer adventurous activities and are also home to native New Zealand wildlife. They are a great way of experiencing the Kiwi lifestyle and the great outdoors while still having the comfort of a proper bed (or bunk) that we backpackers have grown to love. All the better, the accommodation listed below is in the range of a backpacker budget of NZ$25-$40 per night! Let’s go!

Oh, and if you need a bit of a rundown on what hostels are like in New Zealand, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.

1. River Valley Lodge (Taihape)

Part of New Zealand’s charm is discovering hidden gems in the middle of nowhere, such as River Valley Lodge. Some of its bunk rooms above the lodge bar and restaurant with the mattresses pushed together are nicknamed the “spooning rooms”, while you’ll also find standard dorms and private cabins here too. While you’re there, try out horse riding or white water rafting and pull yourself over the Rangitikei River on a crazy pully platform! It is an extreme activity in itself! Find this hostel somewhere near the town of Taihape on the North Island. For more awesome places to stay on the North Island, check out the 10 BEST Hostels on the North Island.

Check River Valley Lodge out:

12 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand© River Valley Lodge

2. Jailhouse Accommodation (Christchurch)

Ever wanted to spend the night behind bars like some hardened criminal? Well, you can in Addington Prison which is now renovated into a backpacker hostel! Jailhouse Accommodation in the South Island city of Christchurch offers dorms and private rooms in its unique building. There’s even a historical display room with photo booth props so you can get some funky photos. For more awesome hostels in Christchurch, check out the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Christchurch.

Check Jailhouse Accommodation out:

12 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand© Jailhouse Accommodation

3. The Rock Adventure Cruise (Bay of Islands)

Have you ever stayed in a floating hostel? The Rock Adventure Cruise doesn’t just provide shared bunks on their awesome boat hostel with a bar, but a whole experience in the Bay of Islands. Jump on board for their overnight cruise where rates include all food, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing, island-hopping and more! Find this unique experience in Paihia on the North Island. For more hostels, check out the 10 Best Backpacker Hostels in the Bay of Islands.

Check The Rock Adventure Cruise out:

15 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Tombstone Backpackers (Picton)

“Rest in peace” at the Tombstone Backpackers. If you hadn’t guessed, this hostel has a spooky theme which is apparent as you enter the hostel through a coffin-shaped door. A unique place to stay if you’re exploring the magnificent Marlborough Sounds or need to catch a ferry between the North and South Islands. Plus, breakfast is free (freshly baked scones every morning… Mmm…)! Find more awesome hostels in Picton in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Picton.

Check Tombstone Backpackers out:

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5. Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers (Te Anau)

Swap hostel dorms for glamping tents at Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers! Thatā€™s right, you can book a bed in one of the hostelā€™s large four-bed glamping tents or, you know, one of the standard but cheaper dorms in the main building. Either way, you’ll be staying in one of the most unique hostels close to Milford Sound on the South Island. See how the hostel compares to others in the town of Te Anau in the 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Te Anau & Milford Sound.

Check Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers

6. Waipara Sleepers (Christchurch)

Since backpackers love to travel, take the travel theme further by staying in a 1940s train carriage! Waipara Sleepers has a bunch of railway wagon bunk rooms, as well as private wagons to sleep the night. All of these are close to the hostel’s converted railway station housing the communal kitchen. Find this hidden gem in the Waipara vineyard region just outside of Christchurch. For more epic hostels, check out the 10 BEST Hostels on the South Island.

13 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand© Waipara Sleepers

7. Noah’s Ark Backpackers (Greymouth)

The backpackers went in two by two, hurrah, hurrah! Or 5 to 8, or 4, depending on which dormitory they are in Noah’s Ark Backpackers. Needless to say, there is an obvious animal theme for each room at this hostel on the West Coast of the South Island in Greymouth. It’s also another hostel that we are grateful for providing free breakfast! Find out about other cool and quirky hostels in the area in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Greymouth.

Check Noahā€™s Ark Backpackers out:

Noahs Ark Backpackers© Noahs Ark Backpackers

8. Te Nikau Retreat (Punakaiki)

When they say a retreat they mean it, as Te Nikau Retreat is nestled in West Coast bush as a unique and adventurous location for a backpacker lodge in New Zealand! Accommodation is scattered throughout the rainforest property in the South Island’s Punakaiki, providing lots to explore (or to hide away). See more hostels in the area in our 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Punakaiki.

Check Te Nikau Retreat out:

Te Nikau retreat© Te Nikau retreat

9. National Park Backpackers (Tongariro)

Everything you could want for your stay in the Tongariro National Park is right here! Shuttle services with equipment hire for the Tongariro Crossing operate straight from reception. Plus, if the weather is bad, National Park Backpackers also has its own climbing wall to challenge yourself. With so many awesome facilities, of course, this North Island hostel had to make it on the list of the most unique hostels in New Zealand! See more hostels nearby in the 9 Best Backpacker Hostels in Tongariro National Park.

Check National Park Backpackers out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© National Park Backpackers

10. Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation (Lake Tekapo)

So many animals! If you came to New Zealand for the sheep, then you won’t be disappointed at Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation. This charming hostel is in a quiet corner of Lake Tekapo village on the South Island where youā€™ll also get a break from bunks as this is a no-bunk hostel. As well as meeting fellow travellers, meet the local lambs, guinea pigs, dogs, chickens, rabbits and whatever pets happen to be in the gardens and surrounding farm. For more Tekapo stays, check out the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Lake Tekapo.

Check Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation

11. Stewart Island Backpackers (Stewart Island)

Another type of animal can be admired at the far-flung Stewart Island Backpackers. Say hello to the friendly and inquisitive kaka, a native bush parrot that isn’t afraid to greet backpackers at this hostel nestled away on New Zealand’s third-largest island. We also like this accommodation provides a cheap place other than backcountry huts on this island! For more options, check out the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Invercargill & Stewart Island.

Check Stewart Island Backpackers out:

15 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Stewart Island Backpackers

12. Rainbow Lodge (Taupo)

Worth mentioning as the granddaddy of hostels in New Zealand, Rainbow Lodge was New Zealandā€™s first purpose-built independent backpacker hostel and the first hostel in New Zealand with a mixed dormā€¦ And itā€™s still going strong! Donā€™t worry, this hostel on the North Island has had plenty of facelifts over the ages, still providing a cheap and comfortable on the residential streets of Taupo. See how it compares to the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Taupo.

Check Rainbow Lodge out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Rainbow Lodge

13. Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School (Westport)

Bazil’s has a cool vintage feel to it, yet it is ultra-comfortable. There are hammocks to lazy around in, a lounge with a log burner and beanbags, and another lounge with grandma chairs. The most unique thing about Bazil’s Hostel is the kitchen you actually want to cook in! The hostel in the South Island town of Westport also runs a surf school, so get stuck in! Check out more accommodations in Westport in the 6 Best Backpacker Hostels in Westport.

Check Bazilā€™s Hostel & Surf School out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Bazil's Hostel & Surf School

14. Jucy Snooze Christchurch (Christchurch)

The ultra-contemporary ā€œflashpackersā€ checks you in with machines, has USB plugs around every corner, and an awesome common area that’s inside but looks like it’s outside! There are hammocks, bean bags and a swing on artificial grass. Meanwhile, the pod dorms of Jucy Snooze are custom-made and unique to the Jucy hostel chain. Find this hostel near Christchurch Airport.

Check Jucy Snooze Christchurch out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© Jucy Snooze

15. The Cell Block Backpackers (Whangarei)

The funkiest backpackers in Whangarei is a renovated 1960ā€™s jail (so, not so unique with another jail on this list of unique hostels in New Zealand… But let’s gloss over that). With The Cell Block Backpackersā€˜ ideal location right in the heart of Northland’s largest city, it couldnā€™t be more convenient. Check out more hostels nearby in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Whangarei.

Check The Cell Block out:

12 Most UNIQUE Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand šŸŽ’ [2023]© The Cell Block Backpackers

[CLOSED] Hogwartz

If you are still waiting on that acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, then there is an alternative in New Zealand! (FYI, this is just the view from Hogwartz… You won’t be sleeping in the church).

[CLOSED] Onuku Farm Hostel

Need a place to stay while you take a trip to swim or kayak with dolphins? Onuku is a traditional New Zealand farm offering budget accommodation with camping grounds, cabins and the communal area is in a farmhouse! Remember to say hi the woolly residence here.

[CLOSED] Aquapackers

What’s not to love about a floating backpacker hostel? Unless you get seasick Enjoy a BBQ and BYO on the waters of the Abel Tasman National Park.

[CLOSED] Gunn’s Camp

If visiting Milford Sound or tramping in the dramatic landscape of Fiordland National Park, make sure to stay in this eccentric camp full of history and solitude. Leave the rest of the world behind with no cell coverage. You stay in comfortable cabins and have access to the gas cookers, hot showers and lounge with a wood burner. There is electricity, but this starts at 7am then goes off at 10pm!

Want More Quirky Places to Stay?

For those with a bigger budget, there are Hobbit Holes to sleep in on the North Island – see 10 Unique Accommodations in the North Island and giant boots to sleep in on the South Island – check out the 10 Unique Accommodations in the South Island!

And for more about being an awesome backpacker in New Zealand, check out our complete 30 Tips for Backpacking in New Zealand, as well as learn about the hostel networks in New Zealand Hostel Networks: BBH, Backpacker Group or Nomads?


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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