accommodation - hotel - New Zealand - travel diary - where we stayed

Where We Stayed: New Zealand Edition

When we travel, we’re not really consistent in the type of lodging we stay in. We definitely make decisions based on what type of trip it is, location, price, etc! Sometimes it’s Airbnb, sometimes it’s a hotel, sometimes it’s a friends spare bedroom or couch 🙂

I was recently asked about where we stayed in New Zealand. We rented a car and drove around, so we stayed in a bunch of different places.

A few things to note: 

  • We stayed in a lot of “motels”. Normally, I’d turn my nose up at a motel because that usually means super sketchy!!! But all the motels in NZ were really clean and beautiful, and I believe it means there are outdoor hallways, as opposed to indoor (which was really common).
  • We didn’t do any camping, but there are definitely options. It’s not free camping (where you just pitch a tent anywhere) except a few spots on the South Island, but you can make a reservation at a lot of camp sites. 
  • We did NOT rent any Airbnb’s in New Zealand, and here’s why: location. If we had stayed in Auckland (we crashed with Ashley, so no need for a rental), Queenstown or Christchurch, we probably would have  – but most of the places we stayed were kind of remote or just very small towns where there weren’t options. 

Now – Onto the accommodation!

National Park/Tongariro Alpine Crossing (North Island)

Where we stayedDiscovery Lodge, National Park, NZ

How I would describe this lodging: Modest hotel, simple, clean, great location & price. We stayed in the motel bedroom, but they also offer fancier chalets or simpler camp grounds 🙂 

Why we stayed: It was one of the closest places we could get to the actual crossing. Plus, major bonus, they offered a shuttle service for the crossing (you do the hike one-way, so you need to be dropped off and picked up). We were able to keep our car at the hotel while we did the hike, and were picked up/dropped off directly to our door. It was easy and simple, especially since we were leaving at 5am.

Would I recommend it?: ABSOLUTELY! If you plan on doing the Alpine Crossing (which is New Zealand’s best day hike for sure!!!), it’s the best place to stay. 

Napier/Hawk’s Bay (North Island)

Where we stayed: Shoreline Motel, Napier

How I would describe this lodging: Clean, very simple, balcony view.

Why we stayed: We wanted to check out all of the art deco charm Napier has to offer (seriously, it’s gorgeous!). I loved the idea of this hotel because it had a balcony, which was lovely. Our other choice was the Art Deco Masonic Hotel, which was so charming, but sadly booked. I did love our little Shoreline experience. We got a bottle of wine on the way in and drank it on the balcony! A really nice way to unwind after a lonnnnng hike! We also considered staying at this winery, but we only had one night and left the next morning, so I wanted to see all of the beautiful Art Deco buildings Napier is known for.

Would I recommend it?: Absolutely. The price was very cheap (about $80/night) and I loved having the little balcony. It was walkable to a lot of great restaurants, and close to the main Art Deco strip. 

View from our balcony at the Shoreline

Abel Tazman National Park/Nelson (South Island)

Where we stayed: The Sails, Nelson

How I would describe this lodging: Absolutely gorgeous, modern, chic, lux, underpriced, balcony/court yard, mini kitchen.

Why we stayed: We tried to stay closer to Abel Tazman Nat’l Park (where we went sea kayaking), but the options were few and far between. I am so glad we stayed in Nelson! Not only was this “motel” (seriously, not a motel) so beautiful and relaxing, the town of Nelson itself was incredibly charming.

Would I recommend it?: It was one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed in. We got a 1st floor courtyard instead of a balcony, which I was bummed about at first, but the courtyard is completely private, where the balcony can be seen from the road. This is a family run place, and they do an amazing job. Once again, bring yourself a bottle of vino for the patio. We stayed in the “studio suite” (which is their smallest), but it still had a mini kitchen, which was helpful for us having road trip food.

Franz Josef/Fox Glacier

Where we stayed: Franz Josef Oasis

How I would describe this lodging: Modern, chic, relaxing, great breakfast, in-room fire place.

Why we stayed: This place looked really nice, I’m not gonna lie. And the price was right. Franz Josef is a really small little town, so there’s not a ton for options, and many were really run down. This is “out of town”, but it’s really not even a 5 minute drive, so we didn’t care. It was way nicer than anything “in” town. 

Would I recommend it?: Definitely. The “motel” (once again, I wish motels were this nice) seemed pretty new to me, so everything is chic, white, and modern. There’s a gas fire place in the room which was so cozy after hiking glaciers all day! They also did great food, which was a bonus, since there wasn’t a ton to choose from in town. We did dinner room service once and the breakfast buffet (very European style buffet – breads, cheese, musili, eggs, coffee, fresh fruit, etc) twice and it was wonderful. We were sad to leave.

Milford Sound/Te Anu

Where we stayed: Distinction Te Anu Hotels & Villa, Lakefront Dr.

How I would describe this lodging: Hotel & villas, standard, good location, ocean view or garden view available.

Why we stayed: Our original plan was to stay IN Milford Sound (which is about 1.5hrs away), but all of the lodging (there isn’t much) was booked up, as it was Easter weekend. In the end, it actually worked out well because we did a hike on our way out to Milford, and Te Anu definitely has more options for dinner, gas, and groceries. Milford is extremely remote, so it was nice to visit and have a place to go to dinner that evening.

Would I recommend it?: Yes, but I think you could find something a little better. We were limited because of the holiday weekend. We stayed in the garden villa, which was the most affordable, and was fine – just a little outdated. It was clean and worked. I did enjoy the rose gardens outside and the location in Te Anu, which was close to restaurants and the water (we took a few evening walks). However, I think there are nicer places for a similar price if you do some shopping. ALSO – we stayed in the Lakeshore Dr location, but there is one other Distinction Te Anu, which is cheaper but had awful reviews. Be advised.

There you have it, my review of hotels and motels to stay at in New Zealand! Do you have any favorite places you’ve stayed in NZ?