The New Zealand Version of Capsule Hostels
Hostels have just got a little more space-age in New Zealand with the introduction of the pod hostels! After being Japan-exclusive for decades, the “pod hostel” concept is rapidly taking over New Zealand and travellers are asking themselves: Is it really worth spending a few extra dollars to stay in a pod hostel rather than in a traditional dorm?
Think: no more squeaky bunk beds, no more unwelcome wake-up calls as some drunken mooncat switches on all the lights as they stumble into the dorm after a night out (or as that drunk individual, you can switch on the lights to make it to your bed safely without the guilt of disturbing your fellow dorm-dwellers).
To help you understand this new concept, we will cover it all in this article from the origin of the capsule hotel concept in Japan to the New Zealand version of it called a pod hostel to the best pod hostels in the country. To top it all off, we’ll even give you a taste of it with a virtual tour of a pod.
A Quick History of Pod Hostels
For our Japanese readers, the pod hostels are old news, knowing them as capsule hostels and hotels. Pod hostels are all over Japan since the first one opened in Osaka in 1979. They are a great way to get a space all to yourself without having to pay the full hotel room fee. In Japanese capsule hostels, each room comprises of 8 to 30 (!) capsules. Capsules are traditionally just a bed fitted in a space of 2m (6.6ft) long, 1.25m (4.1ft) wide and 1m (3.3ft) high giving you just enough space to sleep in peace. Don’t worry, the New Zealand versions are a little bit more spacious so you don’t feel quite so cocooned.
By the way, if you have never stayed in a hostel before, get clued up with What is a Hostel? A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.
What Exactly is a Pod Hostel?
Have you seen The Fifth Element? That moment when Bruce Willis slides into a capsule bed for his flight to Fhloston Paradise? Well, it’s kind of like that!
Traditionally, sharing a room with 4-8 people leaves you with little to no privacy – that’s just one of the drawbacks of budget accommodation. However, pod hostels solve this issue by giving you your own space in a 4-8 share room. Your bed is fitted in a capsule that you can open or close at will, giving you control on your privacy. Open your pod when you want to spread your social butterfly wings and close it when you want to rest peacefully.
In New Zealand, pod hostels usually have 4 to 8 pods in each room and hostels tend to use larger (yes, that means longer, wider and higher) pods than their Japanese counterparts featuring amenities such as mirrors, power plugs and lights. Your luggage can also be safely stored in lockboxes next to or under your bed so you don’t have the issue of tripping over backpacks and are less likely to lose your socks.
Pod hostels also feature the same facilities than normal hostels with a communal kitchen and lounge areas, as well as internet access, laundry and other traditional facilities.
5 Reasons to Stay in a Pod Hostel in New Zealand
Pod hostels are the new craze here in New Zealand and for good reason. The concept offers many advantages over traditional hostels and is slowly winning over thousands of backpackers. Here are five reasons why we love to stay in pod hostels:
1. Choose to be social or have privacy
With your pod closed, you’ll have all the privacy you need to sleep well, read a book, etc. but you are still staying a hostel where you can socialise with your roommates or other travellers in the lounge area. Its the best of both worlds.
2. Much cheaper than hotels or private rooms
Private rooms in hostels or hotels are significantly expensive compared to hostel beds. Pod hostels provide a great alternative to get your own space without breaking the bank.
3. Brand new hostels
Pod hostels are a relatively new concept in New Zealand. For this reason, the facilities are nice, flashy and new!
4. Sleep peacefully
Should you want to go to bed in mid-afternoon to catch an early flight the next morning or sleep in after a big night out, you’ll be able to control your own light in your pod as opposed to an ever on/off battle in a traditional dorm.
5. It gives you bragging rights
Staying in a pod hostel is an experience in itself! Just to be able to say that you stayed in a futuristic concept like Bruce Willis did is worth trying at least once.
Where to Try Pod Hostels in New Zealand?
Pod hostels are opening all over the country with more than 10 hostels featuring their own version of pods, from a curtain installed over a bed to home-built bed walls.
Renditions of pod hostels in New Zealand include:
- Oamaru Backpackers
- Grafton Backpackers
- The Marion Hostel
- Chateau Backpackers
- Jucy Snooze Queenstown
- Jucy Snooze Christchurch
- Sir Cedric’s Tahuna Pod Hostel
- Sir Cedric’s Fox Glacier Pod Hostel & Inn
- Haka Lodge Auckland
- Haka Lodge Ponsonby
- Haka Lodge Paihia
- Haka Lodge Taupo
- Haka Lodge Queenstown
Pod hostels seem to be put to best use near arrival ports in New Zealand. It gives you the privacy needed to prepare for a long haul flight or recover from one.
For those arriving in Christchurch, give the newly-built Jucy Snooze a shot. It is the closest pod hostel in New Zealand to the original Japanese concept, featuring futuristic-looking pods with heaps of little extras, like handy USB plugs and even a mirror. Plus, their communal facilities give the feeling of being outside even on those rainy days when you don’t want to be outside, with hammocks, swings and beanbags over the grass-like carpet and under a cloudy blue sky.
Virtual Tour of a Pod
If a picture speaks a thousand words, a 360-degree picture must speak a million. Check out a Pod at Jucy Snooze Christchurch in virtual reality to really get a feel for the place: