New Zealand’s capital of geothermal activity, Rotorua is firmly entrenched on the backpacker circuit, catering to those who come to experience geysers, mud pools, thermal springs and the surrounding lake district. Supporting this roaring tourism trade are a whole raft of backpacker-centric accommodations, many of which go that extra mile to offer something unique. Here are some of the best Rotorua hostels, all bookable with Culture Trip.
Finding a reliable backpacker hostel that offers budget beds in a central location isn’t always possible, but in Rotorua, there are a number of options. Rotorua Downtown Backpackers is just a block away from the Government Gardens, where you’ll find the timber-framed Rotorua Museum and the enticingly named Sulphur Point. The hostel’s sofa-packed lounge, outdoor barbecue space and a large communal kitchen are ideal spots for meeting other guests.
Geothermal activity abounds in the environs of Rotorua, and The Backyard Inn harnesses this natural energy to heat its own outdoor swimming pool. As you might imagine, the vibe here leans towards backpacker chic, offering wooden chalet-style rooms and apartments with private bathrooms, all bathed in warm light during the evening. There’s an onsite bar and the kitchen is large enough to cook a meal for a small platoon.
Anybody who has their own set of wheels might want to consider one of Rotorua’s motels, which can be found throughout the town. The Bella Vista Motel, on the edge of Kuirau Park – a large space with its own hot springs and mud pools near the town centre – is particularly popular with guests for its cleanliness and comfort. The gardens consist of native plants arranged around a well-tended lawn, where there’s a barbecue and plenty of seating.
Rock Solid is a unique backpacking accommodation where you can hang out in more ways than one: there’s a small basement cinema and a huge lounge with table tennis and a pool table and floor-to-ceiling windows along one side that overlook this hostel’s piece de resistance: a huge climbing wall of up to 20m (66ft). This is the real deal for rock climbers, with dozens of possible climbs and discounts for guests.
The team at Aura seem to have thought of everything. Want a fresh way to get around? There’s free bike and scooter use. Want to relax? There’s a heated outdoor pool open throughout the year and a therapeutic mineral pool on site. Want to learn about local cooking techniques? Try preparing a regional recipe, cooked in their geothermal steambox. Aura is not strictly a backpacker hostel and welcomes all travellers, including families, couples and groups.
Where better to loosen the purse strings than a hotbed of geothermal activity? When you’ve been on the backpacker trail for a long time, a regenerative antidote to the travails of the road is always a good idea. Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort, located 8km (5mi) east of Rotorua, has plush studio rooms and suites, which front an outdoor pool. There’s also a spa – for an additional fee – and direct access to the sandy lakefront.