Waipara Sleepers
Waipara Sleepers

12 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand

© Waipara Sleepers

The Weirdest Places You’ll Ever Stay

Staying in a hostel in New Zealand doesn’t just have to be about finding a bed for the night. Some backpacker hostels are a unique experience in itself, whether it’s a unique theme giving the place character or a renovated historic building. Stay in a tombstone-themed room or even out on the Abel Tasman water.

Some of the quirkiest accommodation, 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$20-40 per night.

1. River Valley Lodge

Part of New Zealand’s charm is discovering hidden gems, such as River Valley Lodge. Its bunk rooms with the mattresses pushed together are nicknamed the spooning rooms’. And the method of getting across the river is an extreme activity in itself! River Valley also provides outstanding white water rafting.

Location: Taihape, North Island

Check River Valley Lodge out:

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Blue Duck Station

Not only is Blue Duck a fun and quirky place to stay with an array of activities, but it also focuses on the conservation of New Zealand’s rare species such as kiwi, weta and, of course, the blue duck/whio. The backpacker accommodation is either the Whio Lodge or the River Quarters.

Location: Whanganui, North Island

Check Blue Duck Station out:

Blue Duck Station© Blue Duck Station

3. Jailhouse Accommodation

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. For more awesome hostels in Christchurch, check out 8 Best Backpacker Hostels in Christchurch.

Location: Christchurch, South Island

Check Jailhouse Accommodation out:

Jailhouse© Jailhouse

4. 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.

Location: Akaroa, South Island

Onuku Farm Hostel© Onuku Farm Hostel

5. Bazil’s Hostel

Bazil’s has a cool vintage feel to it, yet it is oozing with comfort. 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! Check out more accommodation in Westport at 6 Best Backpacker Hostels in Westport.

Location: Westport, South Island

Check Bazil’s Hostel out:

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6. Tombstone Backpackers

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 to the North Island. Plus, breakfast is free! (Freshly baked scones… Mmm…). Find more awesome hostels in Picton at 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Picton.

Location: Marlborough, South Island

Check Tombstone Backpackers out!

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7. The Bug Backpackers

It’s a backpacker hostel with a VW Beetle obsession starting with the green Beetle as its mascot Other than that, The Bug Backpackers is a super comfortable and clean hostel. There are many awesome hostels in Nelson – some of the best in the country – so be sure to check them out on 10 Best Backpacker Hostels in Nelson

Location: Nelson, South Island

Check The Bug Backpackers out:

Bug Backpackers© Bug Backpackers

8. 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.

Location: Abel Tasman National Park, South Island

© Aquapackers

9. 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).

Location: Dunedin, South Island

Check Hogwartz Hostel out:

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Waipara Sleepers

Since backpackers love to travel, take the travel theme further by staying in a 1940s train carriage. Plus the hostel is also home to a lovely art gallery to give it an even bigger appeal.

Location: North Canterbury, South Island

13 Most Unique Backpacker Hostels in New Zealand© Waipara Sleepers

11. Noah’s Ark Backpackers

The backpackers went in 2by 2, hurrah, hurrah! Or 5 to 8, or 4, depending on which dormitory they are in Noah’s Ark Backpackers obviously has an animal theme for each room. Find out about more cool and quirky hostels in the area at 7 Best Backpacker Hostels in Greymouth.

Location: Greymouth, South Island

Check Noah’s Ark Backpackers out:

Noahs Ark Backpackers© Noahs Ark Backpackers

12. Te Nikau Retreat

When they say a retreat they mean it, as Te Nikau is located in the West Coast bush a unique and adventurous location for a backpacker lodge in New Zealand!

Location: Punakaiki, South Island

Check Te Nikau Retreat out:

Te Nikau retreat© Te Nikau retreat

[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!

Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island

© Gunns Camp

Want More Quirky Places to Stay?

For those with a bigger budget, there are Hobbit holes and giant boots to sleep in on the North Island and the South Island. You may also want to check out these 22 BIG Things in New Zealand for strange sculptures in Kiwi towns.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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