How to Use Airbnb in New Zealand + Some Awesome Alternatives
So you want to stay with locals or want a good deal on a holiday rental and you’ve heard that Airbnb was a thing or you’ve used Airbnb in other countries and loved it? No matter the reason, you have decided to use the popular peer-to-peer accommodation platform for your trip to New Zealand. Good on you, Airbnb NZ is a great option!
To make your life even easier, we have compiled a few notes on how to make the most of Airbnb in New Zealand. After all, we have had “stay with locals” platforms here for decades, from WWOOF, HelpX and Couchsurfing to the New Zealand version of Airbnb, Bachcare. In short, New Zealand was made for Airbnb!
So here is the Kiwi take on Airbnb along with a few tips on how to use the platform during your New Zealand trip. By the way, did you see our 10 Awesome Airbnb Rooms in New Zealand for Under $50?
How to Join Airbnb
The first step in using Airbnb during your trip to New Zealand is to join the platform. Here is how to join Airbnb.
Sign up to Airbnb in New Zealand using any one of the following:
- Your Facebook Account
- Your Google Account
- Your Apple Account
- Your email address
Then you will need to fill up your profile. Make sure to do that well: give some details and add a picture. This helps build trust.
Finally, be verified: for last-minute bookings or if you have been randomly selected, you will need to send a copy of your ID to be verified. It is a good thing, it adds trust between your host and you.
Tips for Finding the Best Airbnbs in New Zealand
The main thing to understand about Airbnb in New Zealand is that it caters to every need, from large families looking for luxury holiday homes to a couple of backpackers looking to stay with locals and discover the secrets of an area. For this very reason, it is critical to narrow your search to exactly what you are looking for.
How to Find the Best Price on Airbnb NZ
First up, use that price slider. Couples will benefit from the price rather than a single person, considering that most rooms are the same price for two guests as they are for one. Placing your slider at the NZ$80-$100 mark for a couple will usually guarantee you a stay around the NZ$50-$70 per person mark (after service fees), which is pretty competitive. Read more about this in the “How Much Does Airbnb Cost in New Zealand?” section below.
How to Find the Best Locations
You will also want to select your area quite tightly as some towns have little to no public transport available. If you have a car, make sure to select a host that offers parking spaces, especially in big cities like Auckland where overnight parking can be up to NZ$35.
The Problem with Airbnb in New Zealand…
Before we get too far into this guide to Airbnb in New Zealand, there’s one issue with Airbnb that any newbie to the platform needs to know about: the quality of the listings in New Zealand is extremely inconsistent.
Unlike New Zealand-based platforms like Bachcare, which has rental managers to make sure their holiday homes are presented to a high standard, Airbnb is fully managed by the individual listing the property. For this reason, we’ve had very mixed experiences on Airbnb in New Zealand.
If you don’t want to take the time (or perhaps the risk) to find a quality holiday rental, we recommend choosing the “New Zealand version of Airbnb” instead. Scroll toward the end of this article to learn more or continue reading to see what you need to do to get a better deal on Airbnb.
For more advice, see the 10 Tips to Make the Most of Airbnb in New Zealand.
The Type of Airbnb Host Can You Expect in New Zealand
It’s not all independent hosts. New Zealanders and businesses alike have adopted Airbnb, so if you are looking to use Airbnb NZ to get a break from hotels, you will have to pay close attention to each listing.
About 30% of commercial accommodations in the country are already listed on Airbnb. You can find the following type of hosts on Airbnb in New Zealand:
- Individuals with a spare room
- Individuals listing their holiday house
- Families with a spare room
- Hostels listing a selected amount of rooms
- Motels listing some of their rooms
- Hotels listing some of their rooms.
Because Airbnb New Zealand only allows members to list one type of room per account, for example, twin room, double room, ensuite room, bunk room, etc, it is common to find the same business behind several listings.
Other businesses will mention the different types of rooms available under each picture or even in their descriptions. For example, when you open a listing for one room, the pictures may reveal several types of rooms available. In this case, you would pay the extra for a different room by cash when you meet your host in person. Keep an eye out for that so you know what your options are with each host.
Read the Reviews for Airbnbs in New Zealand
It all becomes very clear when reading the reviews what type of host they are, whether it’s an individual or a business. Nevertheless, we have found many hotels that have much better reviews than individual hosts, so consider all your options. Extra tip: make sure to read the responses to each review as well – they are often a great way to see what kind of hosts you will have.
To learn more about the locals in New Zealand, see our New Zealand Culture category.
How Much Does Airbnb Cost in New Zealand?
Airbnbs in New Zealand range from NZ$30 to NZ$1,500+ per night (before the one-off service fee, which is typically around the NZ$25 mark) to reflect the diverse range of quality and types of properties available. That’s not to say that someone with a low-quality holiday home won’t list their property for NZ$800 per night, so don’t assume that high prices equal high quality. Always read the reviews, analyse the photos as much as you can, and make your own judgement.
You can generally find a room for one person around the NZ$80 mark and for two people around the NZ$100 (before the service fee). We have found that the prices in Auckland Central, Wellington City and Queenstown Central tend to be about NZ$10 to NZ$20 dearer simply due to demand and the high price of rent.
How to Get a Good Deal on Airbnb
With the huge popularity and uptake of Airbnb in New Zealand, finding a good deal on a room or holiday home takes a little patience, especially when many of the best listings get booked quickly. Try to book your Airbnb accommodation as far in advance as possible to get the best deal.
You can often get a discount by staying longer. In that case, contact your host before booking the room, they may just ask you to book one night and to arrange the rest of your stay with them directly.
Another thing to keep in mind is seasonality. In summer, prices go up in the coastal towns, while in winter prices go up in the ski resorts. Learn more about the cheapest season to visit New Zealand in When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?
A Few More Tips to Save Money on Airbnb New Zealand
To help you save a few dollars on each of your Airbnb stays, do the following:
- Make sure to switch your currency and location to New Zealand, this can save you hundreds over time
- Check all inclusions for every host, as “add-ons” add up
- When looking at prices, remember there is a service fee too
- Always compare the prices of your hosts with private rooms in local hostels, motels or hotels – use Booking.com, for instance, to get a rough idea of prices.
Find more tips like this and much more on our 10 Tips to Make the Most of Airbnb in New Zealand.
What is Included in the Price?
Unlike WWOOFing (which is a popular accommodation option for backpackers and those on a work visa), it is pretty rare to have food included when booking an Airbnb. Most Airbnb hosts will let you use their kitchen or provide self-catering facilities to cook your own meal but this is by no means a requirement. Every Airbnb listing is complete with a list of inclusions like parking, towels, laundry, etc. Some come at an extra cost.
When looking at a price, make sure to add the”services fee” charged by Airbnb, the “cleaning fee”, WiFi and “security deposit” (refundable) as well, as it can quickly impact a budget.
Inclusions are really the section of a listing that you need to pay the most attention to as it often tells you if you are getting a good deal or not by “staying local” versus staying in a hotel or other type of commercial accommodation. By the way, take a look at other types of affordable accommodation in the 10 Types of Cheap Accommodation in New Zealand.
How to Cancel an Airbnb Booking
Plans change but luckily, cancelling on Airbnb is super easy and you’ll get a refund. The refund will be in the form of Airbnb credit which might not be available to spend instantly but should be refunded within a couple of hours after the booking is cancelled. All you need to do is go to “Trips” and tap/click the Airbnb booking you wish to cancel. Once there, simply tap/click “Cancel” and follow the on-screen instructions.
What if Something Goes Wrong?
While most Airbnb stays go smoothly, there are some bad eggs around. If you arrive at an Airbnb rental and you notice something is missing, not working or otherwise not what you expected, Airbnb gives you two options to resolve it:
Contact Your Host
First, contact the host through Airbnb and give them the chance to fix the issue. You can message your host through the “Trips” section of the app/website. If you come to an agreement with your host that includes a reimbursement, you can do so using Airbnb’s Resolution Centre.
If contacting the host doesn’t resolve the issue, then you can contact Airbnb through the “Help” section of the app/website. When doing so, make sure you include a photo and/or video showing them the problem.
Of course, if it’s an emergency situation where your safety is threatened, then call the emergency services which is 111 in New Zealand. See more Important Contacts & Telephone Numbers for Travelling New Zealand.
Do Airbnb Offer Refunds?
Airbnb offers full refunds for cases that are eligible under their Guest Refund Policy if the claim is made within 24 hours of discovering the issue. While we recommend that you fully read their Guest Refund Policy to understand what issues are eligible for a refund, in short, what is covered includes:
- If there is no access to the property
- The property is misrepresented, for example, number of bedrooms, location, accessibility features missing, etc.
- Key amenities are missing or not working
- The property isn’t generally clean and/or is unsafe.
After you have contacted Airbnb, remain available so that they can go through the next steps with you.
Is There an Alternative to Airbnb in New Zealand for Holiday Rentals?
We are glad that you asked! With the inconsistency of the quality of Airbnb listings, especially holiday homes, there is a platform that we recommend using instead, especially if you prefer to use holiday homes and apartments while travelling: Bachcare.
“Bach” is the New Zealand word for “holiday home”, which is a fundamental part of the New Zealand holiday culture. Having a good bach is something that Kiwis take very seriously. With that, Bachcare is an online platform where you can book holiday homes across the country with ease – just like Airbnb!
While Bachcare has the same concept of listing everyday New Zealanders’ holiday homes, the major difference is that all of their holiday rentals are locally managed by the Bachcare team. That means the property is professionally prepared for your arrival and in the unlikely event that there is an issue, there is a New Zealand based team who are available to help you with any queries 7 days a week. Plus, the images on Bachcare are much more professional and extensive, giving you a more accurate representation of the property.
Don’t just take a word for it; have a browse of Bachcare and discover why you might not have to use Airbnb in New Zealand after all.
+ Other Ways to Stay with Locals in New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the friendliest countries on earth so it is not surprising that there are lots of different ways to stay with locals and truly experience the real New Zealand culture. Get off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps by trying any or all of these 5 Ways to Stay with Locals in New Zealand. This will make your trip all the more meaningful even if you only do it once in a while.
Also, check out:
- Couchsurfing in New Zealand
- 10 Reasons Why WWOOFing is a New Zealand Must Do
- 6 Ways to Work for Accommodation
- Being an Au Pair in New Zealand
Finally, find more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.