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New Zealand budget accommodation in comfort

Backpacker hostels have really taken off in New Zealand. But what if you're a solo budget traveller who is of an age where sharing a dormitory no longer appeals? Fortunately, New Zealand has options for solo travellers wanting the comfort of a private room, but without the expense of hotels or motels.

A BBH hostel near the river, Christchurch
A BBH hostel near the river,
Christchurch

One option is covered by the BBH backpacker network. As well as having the biggest range of hostels, BHH caters better for singles than the YHA and VIP hostels which are the main alternatives. Not all BBH hostels have single rooms, but many do - their website and guide sets out the facilities clearly.

Prices vary, but generally fit somewhere between a dormitory bed and the full price of a twin room. This is better than the YHA hostels, which don't seem to have single rooms ... and charge the rate for two people if you want a twin or double room to yourself. Even if you wouldn't normally think of staying in a hostel, a private room in a BBH hostel outside of the city centres can be more pleasant than you'd expect.

Another option is the motor camp, or holiday park. These are known elsewhere as campgrounds or caravan parks - places where you can park a campervan or caravan, or pitch a tent. They also have various standards of permanent accommodation which includes cabins - ranging from simple wooden huts with shared facilities to very comfortable tiny homes with en-suites and their own kitchens. Whatever the cabins have, the facilities of the park itself can also be used, such as campers kitchens, laundry and internet access.

The most basic cabin I stayed in was at a motor camp in Glenorchy. It was little more than a garden shed sized wooden box with a bunk bed, but it was private and very cheap. At the other end of the scale, the cabin I enjoyed at Pohara Beach, in the Golden Bay area, was pure indulgence. Quiet location, right on the beach with sea views, and still cheaper (off-season) for one person than the budget motels in the area, which weren't on the beach.

Cabins at a motor camp outside Queenstown
Cabins at a motor camp
outside Queenstown

The most consistently high standards are at parks belonging to the Top 10 chain; most other parks are independantly owned and operated, with a wide range of standards and prices.

A major benefit of motor camps - apart from economical comfort - is their great range of out-of-town locations. If you want to stray from the most well-trodden paths, you'll be more likely to find motor camps up the scenic back roads than hotels or motels.

Another reason to stay in motor camps is the clientele. Budget hostels and hotels tend to be well frequented by overseas travellers, whereas motor camps tend to be more popular with New Zealanders exploring their own back yard. This aspect might appeal if you're wanting to feel less like a tourist and mingle with more locals.

Even if you normally only stay in hotels, or backpacker dorms, motor camp cabins and private rooms in BBH hostels are worth adding to your list of options. I'll be highlighting some specific examples elsewhere on this website as time allows.

More information

Top 10 Holiday Parks
Budget Backpacker Hostels


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