Where We’ve Stayed: Oceania

Below is a list of everywhere we stayed during our year in Australia and a few weeks in New Zealand. (May 2015 – August 2016)

(note: this list doesn’t look extensive, but we camped in most of Australia – or stayed with friends in Melbourne – and couchsurfed in some of New Zealand)

Australia has some of the worst hostels I’ve ever stayed in, so don’t expect too many great reviews here. I’ll be as honest as possible – a lot of bad TripAdvisor reviews on hostels, particularly somewhere like Australia with lots of inexperienced travellers, are just stupid. (“you have to BRING YOUR OWN TOWEL!!!” “I can’t believe they charge for wifi!!!” “you couldn’t check in until midday!!” – really?)

As always, prices are per person unless stated (as most of them were dorm beds), and all hostel names link to the TripAdvisor reviews.

Brisbane, Australia

Base Central
Base is one of the main “brands” of hostel in Australia, and to be honest I’m not a big fan, but this one’s pretty good. Our first experience of it was a quick night in the city before we flew down for our first job. We were in a tiny cramped 4 bed dorm and it wasn’t great. When we came back to Brisbane, we stayed mostly in 6 bed dorms and they weren’t so bad, and eventually we got upgraded to a pretty nice 4 bed dorm. However, we stayed for about a month, which was way too long!! The best and worst thing about this hostel is the bar downstairs. Great because you can pop down for cheap drinks and meal deals and it’s a pretty cool place. Not great because it’s open until 5am every day. Other bad points – hardly any plugs, this was an issue in every room we stayed in! Kitchen closed at 10pm and there were only 4 gas hobs (no ovens). But it’s the best hostel location in Brisbane and fab for a couple of nights, it has bad reviews on TripAdvisor but a lot of older people book private rooms and then complain about the noise and because it’s not hotel standard, it’s really not that bad.
We stayed: around 5 weeks in total
We paid: $21 a night to start with and then $147 a week

Blue Tongue Backpackers
I literally cannot recommend this hostel enough!! This was our home for virtually six months, and it’s one of the cheapest hostels you’ll find in Brisbane. The hostel is just a big Queensland house and the kitchen has everything from ovens to toastie makers – such a relief after staying in Base! You also get free wifi, a huge TV and a PS3 in the living room, and people often give you access to their Netflix! It’s located on the edge of the Valley, a 20 minute walk from town or a 10 minute walk to the free city hopper ferry (a really nice way to get around the city!). It’s a 5 minute walk to all the bars, so just far enough away to be in a quiet area. People play beer pong every night but always abide by the curfew as most people are living there and working. Don’t let this put you off though – everyone is welcomed like family, and we made friends on our first night that we still have to this day! Many people come for a couple of nights and end up staying for months. At the moment it’s run by the most wonderful French couple, we cannot thank them enough for how amazing they made our stay there. I hope it doesn’t change when they leave! (if you look at TripAdvisor ALL the bad reviews are from before they ran it) My only issue there was a lack of lockers, however bearing in mind we stayed there for six months, we never had anything stolen except a speaker! That’s actually one of the benefits of staying with people who are long term. The rooms and bathrooms are pretty much always clean too, even if some of them are slightly rough around the edges. I’ve recommended this place to a ton of travellers and none of them have been disappointed.
We stayed: November to April, plus a few odd nights after!
We paid: $140 a week ($20 a night)

Cairns, Australia

Nomads
I was a little bit concerned when I realised after booking just how far out of the city centre this place is. However, they offer regular free shuttles to and from town that only take about 5 minutes, and we could park our van at theirs hassle-free. The hostel itself was great – clean rooms, good bathrooms with lots of showers, and a fun bar downstairs with super cheap daily deals! I treated myself to cocktails because it was $12 for a jug. They also have a really nice pool and you can’t hear the bar upstairs at all. Probably among the most friendly hostel staff I’ve come across in Oz, too!
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: $18 a night

Magnetic Island, Australia

Base
I really wasn’t too bothered about staying in another Base, but we kept reading that the one here is amazing, and it’s the most centrally located option. (tough choice though, because the other one is on a koala sanctuary!!!) I really enjoyed our stay here! It’s rustic, all the rooms are bungalows, and it’s right on the beach. It IS quite far from the terminal (about half an hour walk) but that wasn’t a problem. The bar was really fun with different events and games every night, $6 cocktails and $12 beer jugs, and a free drink on arrival! It was probably actually one of our favourite hostels in Australia (though we haven’t stayed in THAT many).
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $27 (tip: we booked on the Base website for $30, but signed up to get money off our booking)

Melbourne, Australia

Nomads
This was our first experience with a Nomads, and it was a pretty good one. Our room was probably the cleanest one we’ve had in Australia, there’s a lift, there’s free breakfast (pancakes!!), I think we got a free drink but I might be wrong. The bar was nice but we didn’t drink in there. The location isn’t the best in Melbourne (nor is it the best option by far), but it’s right next to the Queen Victoria markets and a short walk from Elizabeth Street.
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: $24 per night

Bev & Mick’s
Now I’m not gonna lie. This is the worst place we stayed in Australia, haha! Our room was barely decorated with sporadic plugs in different places on the wooden walls. The floor was wonky, the toilet wasn’t great, there were no lockers… but downstairs, the manager is super friendly and welcoming, the bar has an awesome atmosphere, and as the night went on, people who lived there were coming back from work and having a really good time! There was a proper hostel family here and they were lovely, and in hindsight it was very similar to Blue Tongue – but much, much MUCH more grotty!
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $20 per night

Surfer’s Paradise, Australia

Islander
The Islander is actually quite a unique concept in that it’s a resort hotel with a hostel on the side. This means you are basically staying in a hotel with a pool, but your rooms are a bit further away and probably not as nice. Our room had 2 basic bunk beds, a TV, and a really nice en-suite bathroom (a bit of luxury after our Asia hostels!). We were on our own for most of the week, in fact the whole place wasn’t busy at all, and the kitchen is huge.
We stayed: 7 nights
We paid: technically nothing as it was included with our intro package, but it costs $30 each per night

Sydney, Australia

Maze Backpackers
I quite liked Maze, but it was (the clue is in the name) a maze! It’s a very busy hostel and the reception area feels pretty enclosed. There also wasn’t a lift (or it was out of order, not sure) and taking our bags up wasn’t fun because so many people were going up and down the stairs! We got twin rooms (a bunk bed in each) and they were tiny but did the job. It took me a while to find the bathrooms and even longer to find my way back! But it was a decent hostel, probably one of the most central ones in Sydney, and excellent for the price (lots of people recommend hostels like Bounce and Wake Up, but they were $35 each so it’s up to you and your budget!!).
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $25 each

World Square Hostel
I used to hear some good things about World Square, but recently I’ve never seen them mentioned when people ask for hostel recommendations in Sydney. I wondered if there’s a reason for this. Bad points – first of all, the lift was out of order, not a problem for us because we didn’t actually have bags, but navigating the narrow spiral staircase would not have been fun otherwise, especially as we were on the top floor! The bathrooms weren’t amazing, my shower door wouldn’t lock properly, our room key cards kept failing, the carpet of our room was really dirty, there’s a bar/club on the way up to the rooms, security are ridiculous (they wouldn’t let us into reception because the club was too full!). Good points – excellent location, comfy beds, decent kitchen (ovens!).
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: $30 each

Surfside, Bondi Beach
For our final night in Sydney, we didn’t really fancy staying in World Square. And we’d never been to Bondi, so it made sense to book somewhere there so we could see it properly. Enter Surfside, a funky hostel tucked down an alley way with art all over the walls. That’s where the cool part ends, really. It was a nice enough hostel but the bathroom was always busy, we got a bit confused getting in, and it was understaffed. The receptionist was condescending to everyone he spoke to, and when we were finally seen after 20 minutes, treated me like I was an 18-year-old backpacker who can’t find my feet in a brand new, scary country. Screw you, buddy. That said, the rooms were decent and the location is great, just a couple of minutes walk from the beach.
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $28 each

Christchurch, New Zealand

YHA Rolleston House
Excellent location (literally opposite the bus stop, and a 5 minute walk from the centre) and a really nice hostel BUT the price just isn’t justifiable! After paying $16 in Rotorua’s YHA, we did not expect this to be $34!! That said, it was one of the most comfortable night’s sleep we’ve had in a hostel, the room had heating, the kitchen’s good, the common area is really nice. You probably won’t actually get better in Christchurch, but is it worth the price? It’s a no from me, we only stayed there because there were only two hostels open (or not booked up) after 8pm. I’d rather have stayed in Jailhouse because that place looks awesome!
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $34 each :'(

At The Right Place
Nice hostel although basic, the hallways and living room were absolutely freezing in winter!! Beds were okay although those really basic bunks that don’t have side frames and ladders at the end so they’re harder to climb up. Kitchen has excellent facilities and everyone we met there was super friendly. I think it was more of a long term hostel. Owners are Asian and they were a little pushy about upgrading us even though we kept saying no. It’s also a bit of a walk from the town centre but close to Victoria Street where the bars are. I enjoyed our stay here, I’d go back.
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: $22

Dorset House
Can you believe we stayed in 3 different places in Christchurch?! We planned to sleep at the airport on our final night, but having read too many stories of backpackers being kicked out onto the street after a certain time, we decided we’d have to stay somewhere. Amazingly, we found a double room for less than two dorms! It is essentially a hostel but with a hotel feel to it – the reception area feels like a hotel, the decor certainly doesn’t match the aesthetics of a hostel, and in fact the only thing that made it feel like a hostel was the kitchen. Unfortunately we literally arrived in the evening and left very early in the morning, so we didn’t really “experience” this place at all. But it was lovely! Would stay again. :) Only downside: reception closes at 6pm, and the wifi didn’t really work in our room.
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $54 for the room

Rotorua, New Zealand

YHA
This is probably the best value hostel in New Zealand! (or at least “tourist” NZ) We paid $16 a night! The rooms are unusual… we stayed in a 4 bed dorm and instead of bunk beds they were all like wooden shelves around the room (two along each side). Comfy enough but my mattress was slipping a bit, and the bathrooms are decent. The common area is really good too, big open kitchen with lots of seating, a pool table, a TV room etc. It’s been one of my favourite hostels for relaxing in.
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: $16 per night

Queenstown, New Zealand

Base
Towards the end of the trip, I was giving up with couchsurfing and we discovered that NakedBus offers cheap accommodation. However, you have to stay at their affiliate, which led us here. Base is one of the best located hostels in the town, and it’s big, clean, decent kitchen and like most Bases, has an adjoining bar with drinks deals. It’s the only hostel in New Zealand where we had to pay a key deposit, and it was a hefty $20 per person. Our room was really good, we essentially had an en-suite bathroom. Not a lot of character to it but that’s to be expected.
We stayed: 3 nights
We paid: $24 per night (usually about $30!)

Haka Lodge
This was the only hostel we really booked in advance, to make sure we had somewhere to stay the night before our Milford Sound tour. Unfortunately, it was booked up all the other nights we were in Queenstown!! It’s a really cool place, there’s actually another one in Christchurch which we didn’t realise that also has awesome reviews. It’s a really tiny hostel but very cute and rustic, the beds are THE best beds I’ve had in a hostel!! Really chunky wooden, with your own light, curtain, plugs and shelf! So good! The rooms are a bit cramped but the beds are so big you don’t need the room space so much. There are also two kitchens, we only used the smaller one and it was great. There’s a big clothes exchange, and the living room was nice (we put some LOTR on and a few people joined us!). The manager (I think) was super friendly and always making jokes and making sure everyone was happy. 100% would stay here again!
We stayed: 1 night
We paid: $30 each

Wanaka, New Zealand

Base
We also booked this one through NakedBus as it was cheap. It’s pretty centrally located (though Wanaka is hardly big) and next door to a supermarket. The kitchen was alright but a bit small and always busy, you needed matches to light the gas cookers, but there’s a balcony outside where you can sit and eat with a fab view of the mountains! The room was really good except the door slammed all the time. The TV room always seemed to be locked which was annoying. The staff were really friendly, on the morning of my sky dive it kept being postponed and the girl on reception rang them every half an hour for me. To me it was “just another Base” but it’s a good place to stay.
We stayed: 2 nights
We paid: around $20 each