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cheap long-term accommodation in palmerston north

Long-term Accommodation Options When Doing a Gap Year New Zealand

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Your Long-term Accommodation Options in New Zealand

Travelling to New Zealand is awesome: fact. A huge part of your experience is simply about where you stay. You’ll find yourself staying put in a place for a while to save some money, stretch the dollars further, and see what living the Kiwi or backpacker’s life is like. While you’re there, it will give you the chance to make some lifelong friends and gain some life experience. For when you do decide to settle for perhaps a month or more, what are your long-term accommodation options in New Zealand?

There’s a variety of places you can stay long-term without having to commit your whole gap year to staying there. We’ll go through them all here!

5 Tips to Find Accommodation Fast

So you’ve found the perfect New Zealand location to stay, have likely found the perfect job, and now you need to find somewhere to live for the next few months? Here are some quick tips.

  • Ask around Talk to people, ask them if they have any leads on a place to stay.
  • Approach hostels Hostels often provide work for accommodation or can at least point you in the right direction.
  • Browse the job listings There are not just jobs on there, but work for accommodation too.
  • Respond to “flatmates wanted” listings quickly Give them a call quickly rather than texting days later.
  • Keep an eye on Facebook groups like Backpacking New Zealand.

For more tips, see 6 Resources to Find a Room to Rent in New Zealand.

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Flatshare and Houseshare

The most popular long-term accommodation option for backpackers in New Zealand is doing a flatshare or houseshare. Just rent a room in a house or flat with a bunch of other people. Easy! This is a great way to meet people and save more money than, for instance, if you were paying weekly rates in a hostel. It’s also a chance to make somewhere feel like your home away from home.

Because it is a popular option, we have a whole host of articles on renting a flat or house in New Zealand. Check them out:

Where to Find a Room to Rent

From backpacker Facebook groups to TradeMe listings, there are quite a few ways to find a room to rent. We list them all in 6 Resources to Find a Room to Rent in New Zealand.

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Working in a Hostel, Motel or Other Accommodation

This work for accommodation option often comes in exchange for a bed in the hostel, motel or hotel. Hostels are where you will most likely find these type of accommodation deals. You will be expected to do some housekeeping in order to stay in the hostel for free. On the other hand, in a hotel, you are more likely to be a night porter in exchange for a bed. The great thing about staying in a hostel, hotel or motel is that you don’t have to give a super long commitment.

If you are planning on staying in a hostel for a week or two, make sure to ask hostels about their weekly rates, which could be cheaper than their daily rates.

How to Find a Hostel to Work in for Accommodation

  • Simply walk into a hostel and ask to speak to the manager about positions! This is really not uncommon in New Zealand.
  • Search online job listings. Especially on our job listing page, we often receive heaps of “Work for Accommodation” listings from hostels.
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Some Kiwi families like to go on holiday, which is totally understandable as they have some great nearby countries to visit. It is also great for us backpackers because some families look for people to live in their house while they are away. This process almost always means there is a pet to take care of and plants to water in the garden. In return, you get to stay in a house for free. All in all, housesitting is a sweet deal.

Housesitting assignments can be anything from looking after a house for about five days when the homeowner is out of town to house-sitting baches (Kiwi holiday homes) for a month or more.

Where to Find Housesitting Opportunities

  • Housesitting agencies: Kiwi House Sitters, Home Sit, The Housesitting Company and Trusted Housesitters. With housesitting agencies, there is usually a fee to sign up, plus they may require references and a police check.
  • Job boards. Whether it’s online (like or on the notice board of the local supermarket, some homeowners post housesitting as a job listing.
  • Local bulletins and newspapers. If the town you want to stay in has a local bulletin of newspaper, take a look at the advertisements.
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Au Pair

If pet care isn’t your thing, then how about childcare? Being an au pair is another form of working for accommodation. You look after the children, amongst house chores, in exchange for a bed in the family house, food and a small allowance. This is a great learning experience, as well as a way of saving money and living like a Kiwi.

You will usually be expected to stay with the family for a few months in order to built trust and so you are not snatched out of the children’s lives too swiftly.For more information, see 9 Things You Need to Know About Being an Au Pair in New Zealand.

Where to Find Au Pair Opportunities

  • Au pair agencies: Au Pair Link, Dream Au Pair, Playschool Au Pairs, Au Pair New Zealand and Rock My Baby.
  • Again, job boards are another great place to find au pair opportunities.

Other Work for Accommodation Options

As you have seen from this article, working for accommodation often provides a bed to sleep in for a few weeks or months. Check out theses other ways of work for accommodation in New Zealand to find long-term accommodation.


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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