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Accommodation types in New Zealand

Qualmark ratingsStarting your accommodation search

New Zealanders are quick to adapt to or even introduce new trends and the wide range of accommodation mirrors this flexibility. At least the bigger establishments are rated by Qualmark, others rate themselves. Most New Zealand travellers stay in holiday parks, backpacker accommodation, motels or bed and breakfasts. You can pick up accommodation guides in i-SITES (i site), book shops and at accommodation providers. (The following numbers in brackets indicate the numbers registered with Tourism New Zealand)

Holiday parks and camp sites (>400)

New Zealanders love the outdoors. Between Christmas and the beginning of February the camp sites are teeming with kiwi families, especially along the coasts. It’s an inexpensive way to overnight and it gets you right into the stunning landscape.

Most places have shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, barbecues, some even boast swimming pools or hot spas. In some parks you don’t have to pitch your tent when it’s raining, they have cabins or lodges to stay in. The Department of Conservation (DOC) alone provides over 250 camp sites with basic amenities in the most beautiful conservation areas. Free camping on beaches or along the road is sometimes allowed with rules being different from district to district, it is best to ask the local i-SITE about permission and safety before doing this. Tourism New Zealand does not recommend free camping.

Backpacker style accommodation (>300)

If all you need is a bed for the night then you will find this sort of accommodation very good value. You can easily meet other travellers and share your travel stories, the places themselves provide lots of information about their region and they are more than happy to book activities for you. There’s always a shared kitchen and lounge which makes contact easy. Travellers normally sleep in bunk beds in dormitories, nowadays you can also book double and single rooms, mostly with shared bathrooms. If you stay longer you can join one of the hostel organisations and get a discount card.

Motels and motor inns (>500)

Motels are more widespread than hotels in New Zealand. They advertise availability with signs on the road, you can often park in front of your room and there is usually a kitchenette to prepare a simple dinner. An efficient way to overnight, especially when you don’t like to book ahead. They are hard to find outside of the main centres. Motor inns are generally more luxurious than motels, look out for the Qualmark rating.

Hotels (>200) and lodges (>100)

Although the first hotel was built in 1840 they are less abundant in New Zealand than in other countries. Historic ones are full of character, it’s best to consult the Qualmark rating for standards. You can also find international and domestic hotel chains in the main centres. Lodges have only up to 20 rooms and often include breakfast and dinner in their price, offering intimate accommodation and outstanding culinary experiences.

Bed & Breakfasts (>850) and homestays (>150)

These establishments are as diverse as their owners and houses, every place is unique. You’ll see how the locals live, often in extremely nice garden settings or with luxurious interiors. Breakfast is always included in the price. Homestays will also offer you home-cooked meals, usually enjoyed in the family circle. Most hosts love to take time for a chat with you, be it about New Zealand in general, giving you insider tips about their region, to help you with your travel planning or because they are simply interested in your experiences. Maybe you’ll even make friends along the way!

Apartments and baches (>4000)

Normally rented for a week, you can feel like a Kiwi on holiday. Make it a base to explore a region, save money by cooking your meals and enjoy the freedom of your own four walls. A holiday home is called a ‘bach’ in the North Island, in the south they call it a ‘crib’. Many New Zealanders grew up with a family bach near the beach for their summer holidays, some are self-constructed with a lot of character, but some can be basic.

Ultimate boutique luxury (>10)

Stay where film stars and politicians hang out, New Zealand has some incredible houses with breath-taking scenery, offering the ultimate luxury holiday. Be prepared to pay world class prices.

DOC huts (>950)

The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains hundreds of huts in remote areas. It’s free to stay in a basic hut, standard and serviced huts charge a fee. Don’t expect any luxury, they usually don’t have showers, hot water, kitchens or bed linen and you cannot buy food or equipment. But do expect a true nature experience. Some are easily accessible, others take a day walk to reach. Booking is normally required.

Timeshare (<100)

Though there are less than 100 timeshare resorts in New Zealand, they are becoming a more popular accommodation choice for visitors. This is due to the extensive array of amenities, both on resort grounds and in the units themselves. To save money without sacrificing luxury, many travelers opt to rent timeshares from owners who can't use their units that year. New Zealand timeshare rentals are often available online at prices similar to a motel or hotel, but offer so many more convenient features such as cooking facilities and washer/dryers, in addition to a variety of on-site amenities, such as playgrounds, swimming pools, whirlpools, restaurants, and more. The units can also be purchased which would be ideal for individuals who want to return year after year. Always be sure to check online for a resale or rental on the secondary market, rather than directly at the resort, this will ensure the lowest rates.

Private accommodation

The Couchsurfing and Airbnb phenomenon has also reached New Zealand, which means in expensive centres or for longer stays you may find some reasonable accommodation alternatives. The standard of accommodation can be as high as in a good hotel, also normal holiday apartments are on offer, but often it is just a normal room in a house that you share with the owners. The risk may be a bit higher due to lack of professionalism, but it gives you the chance to spend a good time with some nice Kiwis.

New Zealand accommodation

  • Accommodation tip: Mix the style of accommodation for some unforgettable experiences! Start in a place with free airport pickup, learn about New Zealand from B&B owners, when it’s gorgeous weather get close to nature at a camp site, when you’re shooting along the highways stay in a motel and why not treat yourself to some luxury for the last days of your travel?
  • Accommodation in New Zealand: hotel tips, how to book apartments, B&B, motels, holidayhomes etc.

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