When you go to New Zealand, it’s very likely you’ll pass through or stay in Auckland and be looking for cheap or budget accommodation.
Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’ and is the largest of New Zealand’s cities with over a quarter of the kiwi population living in the ‘big smoke’.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on Auckland from all parts of the globe at the start of the peak summer season but despite its popularity, it’s actually quite a small city compared to somewhere like Sydney or Bangkok.
In addition Auckland is usually the most popular host city choice for most concerts, festivals and main events. This can mean Auckland is mega busy and accommodation is often completely booked up in peak season.
Always book your accommodation in advance, anywhere in New Zealand but especially in peak season, on public holidays and when events are on.
Once I stupidly arrived into Auckland with no accommodation booked in advance. It was a weekend when both the Pasifika festival and a music concert were on.
I was told by the i-Site at Auckland airport that the entire city was booked up and the only option was to bus it to Hamilton, the next nearest city.
I refused to admit defeat and armed with my Lonely Planet and my smart phone, I sat on the airport floor and called every hostel and hotel until I found a cancellation. I didn’t find one until 2 am. And it wasn’t cheap.
Like any big city, Auckland’s accommodation can be expensive. New Zealand seems to be leading the way with super expensive rates above the global average, with the average price of a hotel room now being around $185 NZD per night.
Plus due to the high traveller traffic in Auckland, if your accommodation is in a central city location, there’s a chance it’ll be a bit grotty and expensive as well.
It’s all about location, location, location.
Staying in the city centre is important to some travellers particularly if your time is limited, but if you have got a few days to play with and you’re flexible, there are some great places a little further out in the inner suburbs that will be easier on the budget.
I know not everyone on a budget wants to stay in dorm rooms in hostels all the time and so all the accommodation choices below, also have double or twin room options.
I have stayed in many different types of cheap accommodation in Auckland, some good, some bad, some out of necessity and some if I just need to crash for one night in the city.
So I’m sharing with you a list of the best cheap accommodation options either within or close to Auckland city. All prices are in NZD and are per night.
Ponsonby Backpackers is my favourite cheap accommodation in Auckland. Excellent location in the popular and trendy inner suburb of Ponsonby. Located just off Ponsonby Rd, this accommodation is set in a traditional character, kiwi villa. Double rooms are sunny, comfy and clean, with shared facilities.
The Inner Link bus to the city stops right outside, there are also plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars including the famous Chapel bar, less than 2 mins walk a way. The beautiful Western park is nearby and its walk-able distance to the city.
Double rooms around $80 – $90 p/n.
The Attic Backpackers
Super centrally located on Wellesley St just off Queen St, this budget accommodation has won awards on Hostelworld and Trip Adviser. The Attic has a trendy design, spacious social and chill-out areas plus free unlimited WiFi.
There are only private single rooms, twin rooms or dorms here – no double rooms.
The location couldn’t be better for being right in the middle of it all. Supermarkets, restaurants and bus stops are all less than a minute away.
Personally we found the location too noisy for us at night and we found the twin rooms really cold in the winter months and there weren’t any heaters provided. However I’d give it another go in the summer, the location and facilities are all brilliant.
*Update* – We did stay one night here in the summer when we were getting an early morning international flight out of Auckland.
We stayed in a twin room and found that none of the rooms have air-con. It was February, so very hot and the whole building was brutally humid, which made it pretty hard to sleep.
Despite this, it is a perfect location for getting the Skybus service to the airport, as there is a Skybus stop literally right outside and even at 3am in the morning, we were able to pickup a Skybus, right outside.
Twin rooms around $80 – $90 p/n.
Bamber House in Mt Eden, used to be my favourite cheap accommodation in Auckland. This spacious traditional, character villa is set in the sunny, leafy suburb of Mt Eden.
There are double rooms in the main villa plus cabins with en-suite double/single rooms have been built at the back of the property. Facilities are basic but always clean, WiFi is free, plenty of social and quiet areas, there are gardens out front plus a resident cat, staff are really helpful and the Outer Link bus stops across the street by the tennis courts.
Bamber House is in an outer suburb, so it has a much more peaceful and homely vibe to it. Plus the Mt Eden volcano is literally down the road and it’s a beautiful hike up there that gets you sweet views over the whole of Auckland.
*Update* – Sadly when I returned here in late 2017, I found out the owners are selling Bamber House next year and as a result I feel standards have slipped.
My main peeve was that the WiFi signal doesn’t reach the cabins and when I asked about this, the staff confirmed the owners won’t be investing in better WiFi or anything else in the property because they’re selling it and investing more into Oakland’s Lodge instead – their other accommodation business.
Ibis Budget Auckland Central Hotel
Located in Wyndham St in the heart of the city, the Ibis Budget Auckland Central Hotel has excellent studio rooms that are great value for a city hotel.
You only get 12 sq m of space to live in, but the studio rooms are functional and comfy. Double room with en-suite, mini fridge, TV, free WiFi and your own balcony.
Verandahs Lodge in Hopetoun St in Ponsonby is so popular, it’s nearly always booked out. They’ve taken the typical commercial backpackers accommodation you normally find and have made it more like ‘home’.
It’s made up of two restored colonial-style villas and features a mixture of double, double en-suite, twin, single and shared rooms. Travellers get comfy beds, blackout curtains and a peaceful night’s sleep with no late check-ins allowed.
Verandahs practice and encourage environmentally friendly living by using filtered water, solar hot water, energy-efficient sensor lighting and by up-cycling building materials whenever they can.
JUCY Snooze Auckland
JUCY Snooze Hotels are the accommodation sector of JUCY – best known for their innovative and eye-catching green and purple camper-vans. Situated a short walk from Auckland’s waterfront, JUCY Snooze Auckland offer hotel en-suite rooms and a hostel style wing.
On-site there are shared facilities, a coffee shop, a travel bookings desk and laundry service. There is only 30 mins a day of free WiFi though so have a hunt for free WiFi in a nearby cafe.
The Brown Kiwi
This was the first place I ever stayed at in Auckland – I was here for 4 months! Living in a busy, cramped hostel for so long is definitely a challenge and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s just the way things happened for me at the time. And I made some amazing friends here so it was all worth it in the end.
The Brown Kiwi is small and short on facilities but it’s character makes up for it. It has a few double rooms and dorms, shared facilities, parking and a great garden space to chill-out in. Plus the location is perfect, in Ponsonby and walk-able distance into Auckland city.
Double rooms around $70 – $85 p/n.
YHA International Turner St
YHA Auckland International is one of two YHA hostels in the city and this place is the only 5 Star Qualmark rated hostel in Auckland. They offer double, twin, en-suite rooms and multi-share rooms plus spacious and modern facilities.
For a hostel, I thought the amount of space was brilliant, it was never cramped. The kitchen and dining area are huge, there’s a TV room with SKY, a media room, 24 hr reception, free WiFi and a travel desk.
We loved the affordable lockers for storage here, you can fit your backpack and day-pack in one and they’re payable by the hour. We came back and used them the next day too when we had an evening flight, to avoid carrying our stuff around the city all day.
Scenic Hotel Auckland
The Scenic Hotel Auckland is on Queen St, right next to a Skybus pick-up point, so it’s a perfect place to stay if you’re flying in or out of Auckland airport. It’s in a heritage, art deco building with a street level cafe & bar, parking, laundry and a fitness centre. The IMax and Civic Theatre are right across the road too.
All rooms have Sky TV, air-con and free WiFi. I found their economy rooms really cramped, you couldn’t even swing a kitten. So opt for a bigger room for cat-swinging activities and keep in mind as it’s located right on Queen St, it’s very noisy at night.
It’s nicer so it’s pricier but you can get great deals on booking.com for this hotel.
Nomads is a typical chain backpackers. It’s very busy, noisy and full of people – all the time. Although it has hundreds of rooms, so you can usually always get a booking here.
I normally don’t stay in large chain hostels unless I’m desperate, which I was when I stayed here for two nights. The winning factor for me was the location of this place, right off Queen St.
And it turns out they have a pretty sweet rooftop terrace which made the stay here bearable.
Expect noise and queues for everything and although the WiFi is free, you have to go into the adjoining Nomads travel agency next door to use it for free, to get WiFi within the Nomads building – you have to pay for it.
Queen St Backpackers
I stayed at Queen St Backpackers twice when Auckland was super busy and booked out and I just needed a place to crash. It’s old, a little grubby, in need of repair and mostly managed by long-term guests. I have been a ‘long-termer’ in a hostel myself but sometimes when this happens, the hostel dynamic can become clicky and I definitely felt that here.
The WiFi is amazing and completely free, there is a small bar inside and the Queen St location is brilliant. But as it’s next to a sports bar, just don’t expect to get any sleep here.
We stayed here once and probably never again.
These apartments are mostly used as long-term student accommodation and the other apartments are rented per night. For me I wasn’t keen on the sharing setup. Each 2-bed apartment has their bedrooms rented as separate rooms and then the tiny kitchen & bathroom in the apartment are shared with whoever is renting the other bedroom.
There are hundreds of rooms in the building and only one lift. WiFi isn’t free and pretty pricey and I left after two nights when I found bedbugs.
On the plus side, the location is brilliant being in the central business district and…. that’s it.
Only stay if you’re literally desperate and everything else is booked (which happens a lot in Auckland. Watch out for Princeton and Columbia apartments, all ran by the same people.
Double rooms around $75 – $90 p/n.
Quest Apartments Parnell
Located in the upmarket suburb of Parnell, Quest Apartments have all the privacy and amenities of your own self-catering apartment but at a reasonable price. Obviously these will cost you more than your budget hostel room but not much more.
Facilities for the budget studio rooms include en-suite bedrooms with kitchenette, TV with Sky plus on-site gym and heated lap pool.
Quest Apartments have accommodation in many other Auckland locations such as Ponsonby, Newmarket and Queen St but Quest Parnell are the cheapest and still walking distance to the city. Some great deals can be found on Booking.com for these rooms.