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BBH, YHA, BASE or NOMADS: What is the Best Hostel Network?


hostels networks in New Zealand comparison.

With 500+ hostels all around the country, New Zealand spoils backpackers for choice with budget accommodation. Out of these 500+ hostels, a significant portion of them is part of a hostel network or chain, either: BBH, YHA, Base or Nomads.

Although some hostels are independent, which means that they choose not to be part of one of the major hostel networks in New Zealand, four networks are battling it out all over New Zealand to offer value and consistency to travellers nationwide. Each hostel network in New Zealand, whether it’s BBH, YHA, Base or Nomads, offers perks for being a member. For this reason, you may want to compare the hostel networks in New Zealand so you can become a member of which one appeals to you.

Remember, whether you are a member or not, you can stay in any one of these hostels. You are never tied up having a membership to BBH, YHA, Base or Nomads.

Hostel Network Size in New Zealand:

BBH: From over 400 hostels in the 2000s, the BBH hostel network has seen its numbers decline over the years and was down to just over 160 locations in 2018.

YHA: The worldwide giant chain of the youth hostel industry has 40 locations in New Zealand.

Base: Incredibly popular in Australia, Base is slowly growing in New Zealand with now 10 locations nationwide.

Nomads: Positioning itself only in strategic spots like Auckland and Queenstown, Nomads has 4 locations in New Zealand.

By the way, if you’re new to hostels, see What is a Hostel? A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.

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The BBH Hostel network

The largest network in New Zealand is a collection of over 200 independently-owned hostels. This means that your experience will vary greatly from one location to the other.

Using the BBH network will require you to take the time to check hostel ratings both on the BBH booklet and on other booking websites like booking.com to make sure that you know what you are getting into. Some BBH hostels are true hidden gems and offer unparalleled experiences while some are “so-so” at best. Whether you see it as a good thing or a bad thing, BBH hostels are your hostel network with the most variety of experiences.

Being a BBH member costs NZ$45 and gives you a small discount on nightly bed prices. Our tip is to only get the membership if you know that you’ll get your money back after your first or second stay, as you may end up not using the network all around New Zealand. For example: if you get NZ$4 off per night, make sure that you use it for 15 nights within your first three weeks of travel so you are getting the most of your membership. Then you can stray off the network.

For more tips on saving money, check out 11 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Those Dollars Further.


The YHA network

The most family-friendly chain on the list offers a standardised experience in each of its locations. YHA is always a safe bet to get a decent bed in a standard bunk room. As the second biggest network in the country, YHA have locations all around the country with various ratings. Major hostel booking websites have thousands of reviews on each YHA locations. Use them to pick your YHA hostel.

The YHA discount card costs NZ$25 (or NZ$35 to get an IYTC card when you join up on top of your YHA membership) and offers 10% off on YHA bookings. One of the main selling points is that this membership is valid worldwide in thousands of hostels across the globe. However, for New Zealand travellers, we suggest using the same method than for BBH, make sure to book more than NZ$250 (or NZ$350 for IYTC + YHA) worth of accommodation with YHA before considering taking on the membership.


The Base Hostel network

Base is known as the party hostel in New Zealand with its flagship hostels in Queenstown, Auckland and Wellington. Base hostels always come with great backpacker bars offering cheap as drink and food to travellers looking to socialise. Events are organised daily to get people together. Base hostels are a great place to start if you are travelling alone and are looking for travel mates.

Base hostels are usually the cheapest in town. For this reason, Base does not have a membership but a bulk buys system called “Base Jumping”. It gives you a 10-nights bundle to use in any location country-wide for a discounted price.


The Nomads Hostel network

Nomads is the smallest hostel network in New Zealand but its flagship hostel in Queenstown is a true work of art. Purposely built, it has everything that a hostel should have a much more. This is a strong contender for the best large hostel in New Zealand. Other Nomads locations can be found in Auckland and Wellington.

Nomad’s main feature is their Mad Travel shops located in each of their hostels where travellers can book their whole trip, a few activities or nothing at all a chill out with free WiFi.

The Mad Travel Card is Nomads discount system offering discounts on nights and travel bookings at their travel desk. The card is also valid in Australia where the same advantages and discounts apply.

More about hostels in NEw Zealand

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