What accommodation to book during your stay.

What Accomodation During Your Stay?

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  • 1What Quality of Accommodation Should You Expect?
  • 2Should You Consider the Beds & Breakfasts?
  • 3How About the Campsites?
  • 4The Traditional Accommodations.
  • 5Are Backpackers Dedicated to Young People Only?
  • 6Are Backpackers Dedicated to Young People Only?

What Quality of Accommodation Should You Expect?

The hotel industry enjoys an excellent reputation in New Zealand.

The accommodation is often original but of very good quality.

Accommodation is one of the biggest parts of your budget to visit New Zealand. The prices increase significantly during the high season, and it is imperative to book several months in advance, especially outside the big agglomerations like Auckland visit in one day.or Wellington.

To help travelers, the Department of Tourism has invented the Qualmark certification. Hotels and tour operators receive a grade between one to five stars. Of course, this star-rating system is equivalent or close to the European standards.

Hotels, B&Bs, lodges, backpackers and camping ...

If you feel lost, do not panic, I will review any kind of accommodation, and you will only have to make your choice.

To differentiate the quality of an accommodation, you can rely on the Qualmark certification. The notation in stars is similar to the one in Europe.

The Qualmark certification allows to evaluate the quality of the hotels.

Moreover, you don't have to use the same solution of accommodation all the time. It is possible to alternate B&Bs, lodges and hotels during the same stay, and this is even recommended. You could also build your trip around freedom camping solutions, then book few hotel rooms to spend better nights with a real bed from time to time.

Should You Consider the Beds & Breakfasts?

The Bed & Breakfasts are more and more popular and accompany the development of tourism.

Some B & Bs are old chapels reconverted.

One does not win fortunes by running a B&B business. For the hosts, it is essentially a solution to earn some extra cash while having the pleasure to receive visitors. Of course, the quality of the reception is the main interest of this kind of accommodation.

The average price of a three-star B&B room oscillates between $100 and $130 during the high season. Outside this period of high demand, you can hope to find discounts up to 30%. It is even possible to rent a room the very same day if you search for the “Vacancy” signposts well-placed in front of the houses.

The majority of the hosts rent rooms of their children who have finally left home. Let me reassure you right away, you are not going to spend your night in a room decorated with a teenager's posters! The comfort is usually equivalent to the one you can expect of a good hotel, but with more charm.

The legendary hospitality of the New Zealanders owes much to the owners of Beds and Breakfasts who take care of travelers.

The B & B allows you to familiarize with the local culture.

Some B&Bs only offers a bathroom to share with other guests, but the private bathrooms are far more common. The country is vast and many owners prefer to build home extensions to improve the comfort of their visitors.

You will have the chance to meet authentic Kiwis. I will not give you the list of all the nice attention they have with their guests, but one thing is certain: you will be pleasantly surprised by their kindness.

When you arrive at a Bed and Breakfast, it is not unusual to be offered a glass of wine to make acquaintance. This makes the charm and all the difference with the impersonal hospitality of a hotel.

The welcome is often higher than that practiced in Europe.

Usually, your host will open a good bottle of wine to get acquainted.

Do not worry, even if New Zealanders often speak with a strong accent,you will understand them easily and if you are passionate by Rugby competitions you will spend a very good time.

This is also a great opportunity to get free advice like address of the best restaurant in town.

Feel free also to discuss your itinerary, it is rare to leave without useful recommendations. Other travelers are sometimes present, and it is not rare to improvise a barbecue with new friends.

The Beds and Breakfasts generally let you choose between a continental or English breakfast.

You will choose between a continental or English breakfast.

As the name says so, the breakfast is, of course, included in the deal. Your host will ask you your tastes the day before, and you will usually have the choice between continental or English breakfasts.

It remains to clarify the difference between a B&B and a guest house. If you want to share a family meal and improve your English, the guest house and immersive experience that you should definitely try once.

How About the Campsites?

Freedom camping is allowed in New Zealand. In reality, it is now forbidden near tourist places or in some cities like Queenstown or Rotorua. Always ask for permission before planting your tent somewhere.

Freedom camping is allowed in specific locations.

New Zealand is a paradise for campers, but one must distinguish the Holiday Parks (the ones you will pay for) and the free campgrounds. There is even a third alternative with campsites maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC). I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Holiday Parks and Campgrounds (Paying).

Also known as Motorcamp, these campsites are among the best in the world.. Usually installed in splendid locations, they are equipped to host tents, caravans and any kind of camper-vans. The shower stalls are part of the standard equipment, which sometimes includes a swimming pool. At the risk to disappoint those who hoped to save money, I recall that private campgrounds are paying. It costs about $16 per adult and you will be charged even more if you want to connect your vehicle to a power supply.

Outside of the private camp sites, there are grounds where you can practice freedom camping. It is important to point out your intentions to the owner before you settle down. You can also ask the nearest iSite for advice.

Private campsites are subject to charges but are recommended.

Two chains stand out upon others: the TOP 10 campsites are present throughout the country with around fifty locations.

A $40 card allows a 10% discount per night. The direct competitor, Holiday Parks, offers less standardized locations but a bit more authentic.

Amazingly one can find on-site bungalows and single rooms to rent at rates that are not particularly attractive... Expect $60 to $120 for a small bungalow. This may delight some campers after several nights under the stars, but at nearly the same cost, a B&B seems more appropriate to me.

Freedom Camping.

Unlike the majority of countries, New Zealand still allows the “Freedom Camping” but under conditions.

Do not imagine that you will be able to plant your tent or park your camper van wherever you want!

Freedom camping has a bad reputation in some regions of the country. Cities like Queenstown , Wanaka or Rotorua have already banned the practice for several years. It is also systematically forbidden to camp near the main-tourist areas.

Freedom camping is legal, but sometimes regulated in tourist places. It is imperative to inquire before camping.

Freedom camping is allowed outside tourist zones.

The volunteers who maintain the trails are fed up of having to pick up toilet paper and garbage all along the forest paths. An improvised camping in a private property without the consent of its owner is the best way to get a fine. If in doubt, and to avoid a $200 fine to pay immediately, it is recommended seeking advice at the nearest iSite. The staff will indicate you the areas where Freedom camping is allowed (they know that people who seek permission are rarely the dirty ones).

Lighting a fire without authorization can bring you a severe fine. Inquire at the reception of the campsite to know the rules about this.

Always ask about the rules before camping.

Rankers website will help you to locate allowed locations (there is even a dedicated smartphone application). In any case, it is imperative to use public toilets when available, and you must leave the place as clean (if not even more) as you found it on your arrival. By complying these conditions, you'll save money during your stay.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Campsites.

The DOC campsites provide an excellent compromise between Holiday Parks and the Freedom camping.

I personally consider that these camping grounds are among the most interesting if one is not too demanding in terms of comfort.

The entry fee is fixed to $ 7 7 $ per person.

Inquire before parking there because it is not always possible to make fire, and showers or toilets are not always available. Of course, you must agree to leave the place in perfect condition!

The Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites are often established in exceptional settings. This is the case, for example, in the entire Abel Tasman National Park.

The campsites of the DOC are located in grandiose landscapes.

The scenery is almost invariably exceptional. I recommend the campsites of the Abel Tasman Park,, even if they are only accessible on foot. They are located along the beach, in a true paradise landscape.

It is fairly easy to feel lost with so many hotel appellations that exist in New Zealand.

For example, what difference is there between a Hotel and Lodge? I'll help you to see more clearly.

The Traditional Accommodations.

If you are traveling with your family, it is in your best interest to give priority to hotels that will save you time.

The hotels often have a restaurant.

Classic Hotels

Please note that the word “Hotel” in itself is quite ambiguous! Outside the big cities, it may refer to a bar room!

There is nothing wrong with that, but it is something you should remember before booking if you travel with your family.

For hotels (in the traditional sense this time), the quality is generally very good if not excellent.

Large chains such as Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton are also present in large cities but they are quite expensive.

Large hotel chains have settled in New Zealand in large cities. The rating system Qualmark allows you to know the level of service to be expected.

The main hotel chains are present all over the territory.

To save money, it is better to spot independent hotels or those belonging to smaller chains, like Scenic Circle or Millennium. The pricing is logically indexed on the season and number of stars.

You can expect to pay between $90 à $180 per person for a three-star room. The price rises to $140 or even 200 $ for a night in a four-star hotel, and, of course, even more for a palace.

Lodges or Motor Lodges.

They are sometimes confused with the Beds & Breakfasts, but the Lodges are not always a luxury variant. They are often old colonial mansions or beautiful homes with a certain cachet. The service quality is similar to what you would expect from a good hotel. This does not mean that you can book a night with your eyes closed, but you can expect a high quality service most of the time, at a reasonable price if you book far in advance.

All lodges are not necessarily luxurious, but the quality is usually superior to that of a B & B.

The lodges are sometimes rated five stars and overpriced.

The nightly rate is a little higher than in a B & B and the first prices are around $120 per person. There are even luxury lodges (like the famous Huka Lodge frequented by royalty) at $1000 per night.

Family Motels.

I particularly recommend motels if you plan to stay several days at the same location. Their main advantage is to offer a fully equipped kitchen. After several days while having lunch on the go, it's nice to be able to prepare real meals with fresh produces.

With motels equipped with kitchens, you can prepare your own meals with shopping from the nearest supermarket.

The motels allow you to make your own cooking.

Of course, the motel is not the best aesthetic experience one can expect in New Zealand.

However, it is an affordable solution with prices ranging from $80 to $100 and the apartments are usually very well maintained and cleaned daily.

Beware of school holidays because this kind of accommodation is mostly targeting families with children (not a honeymoon choice...).

See our article about the best times to travel to New Zealand before booking your holiday!

Bar rooms.

Sometimes called “Hotel” outside major cities, the bar rooms allow small budget's travelers to spend nights at rock-bottom prices. Do not expect great luxury for a $50 located above a bar... Toilets and bathrooms are almost always located outside of the room, and you may have to share them with other guests.

Some bars rent rooms, but you should expect minimum service and common amenities and showers on the doorstep.

The bar rooms are rustic but cheap.

The ladies might not feel safe if they travel by themselves, but honestly, the only real concern is the noise level. Fortunately, the Kiwis are early-bird and the bar room may prove to be a very good deal if you avoid booking for the weekends. Off season, you might even hope to pay only $25 per night!

Are Backpackers Dedicated to Young People Only?

YHA is present throughout the country, including in remote areas difficult to access. They are called Backpackers in reference to the travelers' backpacks.

Youth hostels are also called backpackers.

The term “Backpackers” is, of course, an allusion to the backpacks that youngsters hold on their back. In other terms, this name is a synonym of what the old generation used to call "youth hostels" before. In New Zealand, one can find them even lost in the most remote locations, which is quite handy.

The Backpackers offer dormitories and basic rooms (single or double), but sometimes it is also granted to plant a tent on a land dedicated for this purpose.

For $20 à $35 one can get a standard dormitory bed for the night.

The private rooms price (if existing) fluctuates between $50 and $130 but this solution is mostly (only?) interesting for the couples of travelers (note that many landowners will accept bookings in advance only if they are done by a credit card).

In addition to toilet blocks, washing machines and showers, you will find a TV area, a kitchen and a dining room where you can meet other travelers from all over the world and of every age (but to be honest, young students still represents 90% of the backpacker's customers).

Youth hostels are not just for young people, as you might think. Backpackers are for all travelers!

YHA and BBH are the two main chains of Backpackers.

YHA and BBH are the two main Backpackers franchises. The fidelity card costs about $40 and gives the right to a rebate of $4 per night. Needless to say, if you choose this option, it will take you at least ten nights before the deal proves to be profitable. But this is an option to consider...

The difference in term of quality between YHA and BBH is not easy to establish. BBH is more a collection of independent backpackers, while YHA has its own standardized buildings. But most of the time, the location will weigh the most in the balance when you have to choose between one or another.

Are Backpackers Dedicated to Young People Only?

Designing your own itinerary is perfectly possible, even if the trip lasts several weeks.

The reservation of a long stay is not a chore anymore.

If you have already booked hotels online, you already know that the process is a fairly easy. Booking all the accommodations for a stay can be done during a single weekend if you are motivated.

The main opponent of the B & B is the camper-van with a booking starting at about $100 per day during the high season (but cheaper the rest of the year). If you are hesitant, ask yourself if you are looking for comfort or autonomy. But if you have never driven a motorhome before, the car is probably the best option if you do not feel comfortable with the simple idea to drive on the left side of the road.

The Kiwipal guides take into account distances to prepare reasonable road trips.

Kiwipal itineraries have well-estimated distances.

I am a strong supporter of the B & B philosophy because it allows to meet local Kiwis.

The people of New Zealand have a reputation for being particularly warm with strangers.

A recent survey has confirmed this good news, by ranking the country at the second place among the most welcoming in the entire world!

If you favour contact, campsites which gather foreigners and Kiwis around a barbecue are highly recommended.

Here again, it depends on what you expect from your stay. But this is certainly a great way to practice English and make friends.

Some hotel owners are willing to do anything to attract tourists. Former cargo planes are sometimes converted into hotel rooms!

A former military plane converted into a motel!

The choice of the accommodation is, of course, related to youre budget, and my recent article on this subject should be useful if you plan a trip to New Zealand.

And if you are still hesitating between the rental of a car or a motorhome, I will give you my opinion and some advice in our special guide dedicated to the transport solutions in New Zealand.

Returning from their trip, tourists note the accommodation 8.5 out of 10 on average, which is quite revealing concerning the level of service one can expect in New Zealand.

By the way, please remember to give us your feedback, we will consider it for our next articles to come.

William, Kiwipal
A Guide Written by William.
Founder of Kiwipal, New Zealand Travel Guide.

Questions & Answers.

What can I do for you? I especially recommend seeking solutions that make it possible to meet New Zealanders. But I can answer your questions about all types of accommodation.

Ask a question to Ben

  • All topics ... 17 answers in total
  • Beds and Breakfasts 5 answers
  • Youth Hostels 3 answers
  • Camping 3 answers
  • Accomodation in New Zealand 2 answers
  • Booking Accommodation 2 answers
  • Motels 2 answers

Beds and Breakfasts

  • Is it recommended staying in B & B?

    On Kiwipal we recommend this solution for our autotours itineraries. The quality of welcome is excellent and it allows you to get to meet authentic kiwis.

  • What is the difference between a B & B and a lodge?

    The lodges are generally old colonial dwellings. The difference can end there (in this case, the price will be equivalent to a B&B solution) but the common rule is that the service is of superior quality.

  • Are there any bathrooms in a B & B?

    In most cases, you will have an individual bathroom. But it happens that the bathroom is common between the different residents. In this case, you may have to wait while waiting for your turn.

  • What types of breakfast are served in B & B?

    Guests can choose between a traditional continental breakfast or an English breakfast. You will be asked how you want your eggs and 9 times out of 10 you can be sure to have a good meal!

  • Does the owner of the B & B have lunch with us?

    Some hosts impose themselves, others ask for permission or expect you to ask them. It is an opportunity to get to discover and benefit from excellent advice on the activities of the region or the best way to visit by car.

Youth Hostels

  • Do youth hostels have an age limit?

    The term is misleading, there is no age limit for youth hostels. That said, 95% of the clientele is actually in their twenties.

  • What are the differences between YHA and BBH?

    BBH is a franchise while YHA has its own establishments. One is therefore standardized, the other more eclectic. Difficult to decide, but according to most travelers, YHA is a bit superior.BBH BackpackersYHA Backpackers

  • Should I take a YHA or BBH loyalty card?

    It depends on your itinerary and nearby establishments. Knowing that the discount card is profitable only after ten nights.


  • Is it possible to plant your tent anywhere?

    The freedom camping is allowed in New Zealand, but that does not mean you can install your tent on private land or on the outskirts of the city. Always ask for information, either from a land owner or the local i-Site. When in doubt it is better to abstain from being awakened by a police officer and having to departure in emergency with a fine.

  • Are campgrounds chargeable?

    Connecting your camper van with electricity, using dump stations, or enjoying the showers of a campsite implies a cost. The more the campsite is Spartan and the more affordable it will be (it can even be free).

  • What cities forbid wilderness camping?

    Tourist towns have banned wilderness camping. Do not expect to plant your tent near Queenstown, Wanaka or Rotorua for example.

Accomodation in New Zealand

  • What is Qualmark?

    It is a quality label that allows visitors to evaluate a hotel service or an activity. Companies that display the Qualmark logo are checked regularly.Qualmark

  • What is the state of the New Zealand hotel industry?

    The hotels, Beds and Breakfasts and other lodges are of very good quality. Of course, it all depends on the amount you are willing to spend, but even the entry-level establishments are acceptable.

Booking Accommodation

  • Can you book your own accommodation?

    Nothing prevents you from booking your accommodation yourself. Be careful, however, not to wait until the last minute, because the good establishments systematically can be fully booked during the high season.

  • Can we leave without having booked any hotels?

    If you are traveling during the low season (mid-autumn to early spring) you can afford to look for your accommodation on a day-to-day basis. You have to be willing to devote some time to it, which is far from ideal during holidays, but possible during Working Holiday Visa.


  • Can we cook in a motel?

    Yes, and this is the main interest of this type of accommodation. You will save money and have the pleasure to eat healthy food. All the basic ingredients (fruits, vegetables ...) to which you are accustomed are available in supermarkets.

  • What is the main disadvantage of motels?

    During the tourist season, motels attract vacationers' families. So it's not an ideal solution if you're looking for calm.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

Ask Questions to William.

New Zealand Expert

Depending on your budget you will not encounter the same kind of people during your trip.

The B & B is great to meet Kiwis, while the motorhome usually brings you closer to other foreign tourists.

There is a wide range of hotels, motels and other lodges for all budgets.

You can even go camping!

william Ask me a question

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Guillaume picture in the mountains

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