AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Young travelers on shoestring budgets can keep accommodation costs low in New Zealand by using the 42 international youth hostels and 34 privately operated hostels.
An advantage of the private facilities is that they have fewer restrictions--you don't need a membership and seldom have curfews.
Another advantage of New Zealand's private hostels is that in resort areas some will arrange special day trips for guests. For example, there are three privately owned hostels in the popular Bay of Islands resort town, Paihia, and each will arrange for guests to spend a day at sea at discounted rates.
Paihia is 4 1/2 hours north of Auckland by bus. The fare is $30.30 (about $16 U.S.).
Be prepared for resort rates for water-sport rentals and for restaurant food. Fortunately, the three private hostels provide kitchen facilities for guests.
Map of the Area
The bus drops you off in front of the local tourist information office. The staff can provide a map of the area and directions to the three private hostels.
The Centabay Travelers Hostel on Selwyn Road (telephone 27-466) has four two-bedroom flats that have been converted into dormitories and twin rooms. Most guests are ages 19 to 24 but this hostel is also popular with cyclists and some retired travelers who like the twin rooms. Rate for the four-bedded separate men's and women's dormitories is $11 ($6 U.S.) per person per night. A twin room costs $13.50 ($8 U.S.) per person per night. Guests have use of several kitchens, television sets and a barbecue.
The hostel can provide information on walks in the area ranging from several hours to full-day trips. Groups of up to 20 sail each day on the 60-foot vessel Tiree II. The regular rate is $38 (20 U.S.), hostel guests pay a reduced rate of $27.50 ($15 U.S.). The ship sails to an island where you can swim or beachcomb. You bring your own lunch; morning and afternoon tea is provided.
About a three-minute walk uphill on Moana Avenue, you'll find Paihia's smallest hostel, Maarie's Place. It has a terrific view of the bay area and lodges up to 17 guests for $10 ($5 U.S.) a night per person. There are coed dormitory facilities for eight and several small cabins. Guests can use the kitchen, television lounge and barbecue.
Guests at Maarie's Place can also sail on Tiree II at the reduced rate of $27.50 ($15 U.S.), and once a week Maarie invites guests to join her on a shopping trip for vegetables to a neighboring community, Keri Keri.
On Puketona Road is the Mayfair Hostel (telephone 27-471). It offers men's and women's dormitory accommodations for $6 per person per night. Linens can be provided for an extra $1 and some double and twin rooms are available. The Mayfair can accommodate up to 32 guests. Facilities include a kitchen, TV, free bikes and a games room.
A Day at Sea
Mayfair Hostel guests can spend a day at sea on a 44-foot boat for $33 ($18 U.S.). The regular rate is $38 ($20 U.S.). Snorkeling gear and volleyball equipment are provided and you are taken to an island where you can fish and dig for clams. A barbecue is held on the beach. If enough seafood isn't caught, pizza is provided.
The independent hostels are a good source of information about similar facilities in other parts of New Zealand. A brochure listing all 34 hostels will soon be available at the hostels.
Another good source of budget travel information is the book, "New Zealand--A Travel Survival Kit," by Tony Wheeler, published by Lonely Planet. It's available in Canada for $7.95 or in New Zealand for $14.95 (NZ). Keep in mind that since this book was researched the New Zealand dollar has been devalued; prices will be considerably higher than indicated.
Also remember that a 10% tax on goods and services was introduced in New Zealand in October. Many brochures have not been updated since then so when comparing prices ask if the tax has been included.