There are several strong reasons why Wanaka, a resort town on New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the most popular and often visited destinations in this country. Every winter, ski enthusiasts and tourists swarm to this little, charming town to take advantage of the local ski areas and the incredible winter atmosphere permeating the whole community. Wanaka offers more activities than just enjoying the snow, though. The stunning peaks of Mt. Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka are nearby, and there are some incredible walks just outside its front door.
And there’s no better way to experience all this than by lodging in some of the best hostels in Wanaka!
For more than 45 years, Puzzling World has been one of the top family-friendly Wanaka attractions. The multi-award-winning complex provides optical illusions, 3D mazes, and puzzle rooms, and currently attracts more than a quarter million people annually. But Puzzling World is mainly known for the Leaning Tower of Wanaka, which leans at an incredible 53 degrees!
Only five islands can be discovered in Lake Wanaka, and Mou Waho is among them. It is arguably the most distinctive lake island in all of New Zealand. The fact that it’s only accessible by boat further adds to the extraordinary factor.
The surrounding area is one of the most stunning regions in the country. Furthermore, it’s a protected area that the Department of Conservation manages. Because it is a bird sanctuary and home to the endangered, flightless Buff Weka, the DoC has taken all reasonable measures to prevent predators from entering. You must make travel arrangements in advance if you wish to witness them.
The entrance to Mount Aspiring National Park is in Wanaka, which gives you yet another reason why you should book one of the best hostels in Wanaka right away!
Money-saving tip: Compare hostel prices with Hostelz.com. They compare prices from Hostelworld, Booking.com and others with 1 click.
1. Mountain View Backpackers
2. Wanaka Bakpaka
3. YHA Wanaka
Wanaka Lavender Farm is a short distance from the city centre. Even if you don’t have a car, getting there is rather easy. It has 10 acres of lavender fields and gardens and is home to many farm animals, including alpacas and highland cows. t is definitely a great place to have a taste of rural life. After your tour of the farm, stop by the café for some tea and ice cream made from their fresh, local ingredients.
Wanaka Tree is arguably New Zealand’s most photographed tree. Its elegantly curled trunk appears to emerge from Lake Wanaka’s crystal clear waters, giving the impression of floating on the water’s surface. It’s merely an illusion created by nature! But regardless of whether you are amazed by this sight or not, there is no disputing that this tree has become a symbol of Southern New Zealand.
This guide is perfect for YOU, when you…
are tired of crappy hostels!
want a social Hostel to actually meet people
are happy to spend $1 to $2 more for a much better experience
Check-In and Check-Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3 pm), while the Check-Out time is before 11:00 (11 am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.
Do you need a travel insurance when travelling to Wanaka or New Zealand? New Zealand does not require visitors to have travel insurance to enter the country. Though optional, travel insurance is highly recommended for trips anywhere, as even the most well-planned trips may be subject to unforeseen events abroad.
Backpacking and travel tips for Wanaka: Before we continue with our choice of best hostels in Wanaka, let us first provide you with a list of backpacking tips that we’re sure you’ll find useful:
One of the nicest walks you can take here is unquestionably the one up Roys Peak. It’s also considered New Zealand’s most popular “Instagram” location. It is easily accessible for all types of travellers, even if you don’t have a car, as it is just 10 minutes from Wanaka town. It’s a relatively straightforward path, and the parking, which also serves as the trailhead, is precisely where you can see the peak.
You may take a short trip from the city to the Clutha River, where you can board a jet boat and go at rapid speeds. It’s a thrilling experience, and you’ll be astounded at how experienced the drivers are. You could also be taken on one of Wanaka’s additional jet boat cruises to the nearby Matukituki River, which is yet another stunning river. The good news is that when you arrange the tour, the transportation and equipment are all included in the price.
One more of the top attractions in Wanaka is the Rob Roy Glacier Track, which is situated in Mount Aspiring National Park. The track begins at the parking lot, barely more than an hour’s drive along Matukituki Valley Road from Wanaka town. It’s the ideal route for you if you enjoy adventure, especially if you’ve never seen a glacier with bare eyes. Getting lost on the trek wouldn’t be an issue, thanks to the clearly signposted trail.
Since the progressive high incline is difficult, we only recommend this route to those who have a car. And if you bring any snacks with you, be aware of the Kea birds! They will continually try to steal your food, and they practically show no fear of people! And since feeding them is prohibited, it is best that you eat in the car or before you set foot on this excursion. But you must remember that feeding them is prohibited.
If you enjoy skiing or snowboarding, Heli-skiing is the coolest sport you could possibly do. Winters in New Zealand are fantastic for snow, but if you want to grab fresh turns on the ski slopes, you have to get up there really early since they are tracked out pretty quickly.
Being carried to the peak’s summit, plunging into the snow’s endless expanse, and then being retrieved to start the process all over again. There is simply no experience that can top this off!
These are our favorite hostels in Wanaka. We want to make your life even easier, so we put all accommodations on a map for you. We even added our own tips for favorite restaurants, things to see, and more.
First on our list of best hostels here is Mountain View Backpackers Wanaka – a tiny, friendly hostel that provides a calm ambience after a busy day. Located in the stunning Central Otago, only an hour’s drive to Lake Wanaka, the hostel offers a common lounge, a garden, free private parking, and barbeque facilities. In addition, they have a sunny patio, as well as a tour desk.
A communal kitchen and free Wi-Fi are provided in the accommodations. A shared bathroom, a hairdryer, and bed linens are also included in each guest room. Additionally, visitors will have access to cycling, skiing, and hiking activities in and near Wanaka.
Enjoy the cosy fireplace in the community lounge, take in the vistas from their remote mountain-view vantage point, or relax in their own sunny garden. The property consists of a 4 or 6-bed mixed dormitory or private double room with a queen-sized bed (ideal for couples), allowing you to choose the most suitable option.
Location: The closest parks are Pembroke Park (750 m) and Wanaka Station Park (2 km). The closest ski lift is Captains Express (24km).
Wanaka Bakpaka is one of the best hostels in Wanaka that provides beautiful views of the lake. It also offers independent female travellers with high-quality and affordable hostel lodging. It is the only hostel in Wanaka with a prime lakefront location featuring breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.
The absence of television in their dining area and lounge allows guests to unwind, connect with other travellers, or simply enjoy a fine bottle of wine. The property has a fully equipped kitchen, an outside grilling space, and laundry facilities. What’s more, they offer a limited number of simply furnished private rooms, as well as shared and mixed-dorm accommodations designed to meet your needs.
Wanaka Bakpaka has lots of backpackers staying for an extended period, and even more are coming for the second time!
Location: Set in a converted 1920s hunting lodge and annexes across the road from Lake Wanaka, this casual hostel is 2 km from Wanaka city centre and 3 km from the optical illusions at Puzzling World.
Last on our list of best hostels in Wanaka is YHA Wanaka, one of the most popular hostels due to its liveliness, cosiness, and comfort, as well as its breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains. They have an open-concept living/dining space and a laid-back, pleasant atmosphere that makes all backpackers feel at home.
Numerous relaxing common rooms, a crackling log fire, a pool table, a reading area, a balcony, and a movie room are just several of their exceptional community amenities that are available for everyone who decides to stay there. Visitors can choose between the comfort of their own private rooms or the vibrant dorm rooms. En-suite bathrooms are also available in private suites. The staff at this hostel is incredibly friendly and is open to assisting you with free transport and activity booking!
Location: Pembroke Park (250 m) and Wanaka Station Park (1.5 km) are the nearest parks. The closest ski lift is Captains Express, and it is 23 km away.
We have a few more accommodations worth a mention that could enrich your travel and hostel experience.
Wanaka Backpackers Bothy
Wanaka Backpackers Bothy
Wanaka Backpackers Bothy is an awesome place to stay and one of the best backpacker hostels that you can find in Wanaka. Friendly & helpful staff, good bathrooms (limited amount of showers but otherwise perfect), good location just a minute or two walk away from the “centre”. Nice vibe with the other guests. The staff clean virtually everything (including the kitchen, bonus for that) really thoroughly every day. Kitchen is well equipped but can be a bit small if it’s a busy evening with people eating at the hostel. Limited fridge space, but they have a freezer, and plenty of room to store food.
Zula Lodge is just a 5-minute walk from the Hawea River. This is the perfect place for having a great, but also relaxed time with friends and still being close to Wanaka.
They have a great kitchen facilities with lots of equipment, and a very large lounge area with lots of sofas. Comfortable rooms are in another part of the building which is nice as it’s quieter. Hot showers with good pressure are great and they have a dining space so a great place to meet likeminded people.
It is one of the cheapest places to stay here and it is definitely the best place for your budget travel.
Travelling to Wanaka has become popular for backpackers, especially in recent years. This is mainly due to the fact that neighbouring Queenstown has grown congested, making this peaceful little town a well-liked destination for adventure lovers all around the world.
We hope that our list of the best hostels in Wanaka will help you to decide which hostel is the perfect choice for you! Consider your options and book the one that feels right for your adventure. We wish you happy travels and an amazing time!
What about the cheapest hostels in Wanaka?
Of course, there are always cheap hostels. But how do you actually find them? When you are traveling on a shoe-string budget and you want to save every dollar, there are ways to find the cheapest places in Wanaka.
Open Hostelz.com with a full list of all hostels in Wanaka
add your dates
Order the listings by price
Simple as that.
Hostelz.com is a price comparison site for hostels. They list every single one in the world and tells you exactly which website is cheaper to use.
Another smart Tip: Check what is actually included, and what is excluded. Take a closer look at the location, too. A further location might mean more costs in transport.
We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible! All of Wanaka best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish and good hostels, secure your room/ bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.
The coolest Hostel App you need comes as well from Hostelworld. It gives you super cool features like you can contact your hostel mates beforehand and make plans together. Find more details in our review of the app
Not all hostels in Wanaka are necessarily safe, especially the ones that offer cheap prices in sketchy areas. They might be illegal hostels or ones without the proper licenses and safety measures put in place.
In all fairness, it is best to check out Hostelgeeks.com because we feature safe hostels in Wanaka. You can find backpacker hostels with top ratings here! Keep a close eye on the overall ratings on booking platforms!
If you are not secure, you can also email us and ask us!
How expensive are hostels in Wanaka?
Hostels in Wanaka cost 19$ – 25$ per night for a bed in a dorm. A private room has an average of around 50$ per night. This is a rough average, just to give you an idea.
Ask all your questions and connect with like-minded wanderers 🔥
Flights to Wanaka?
Wānaka is a 60 minute drive from Queenstown Airport over the Crown Range Road or via the Kawarau Gorge – both stunning drives. There are two other airports in close proximity: Dunedin and Christchurch.
We use Skyscanner and Omio.com to find cheap flights and good connections all over the globe.
Skyscanner has a bunch of cool features like Multi-City Trip. Instead of doing this research step-by-step, Skyscanner offers this flight planning tool.
Do you have any questions left, maybe doubts? Then please leave it in the comment below. We are very keen to help you - and actually you would even do us a favor!
Your question will help us to improve this Wanaka guide.
Last note: Our commitment
This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter, and find the best place on a budget! We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We are constantly updating all our guides to keep them as fresh and accurate as possible.
Safe travels, The Hostelgeeks
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