Monday, December 8, 2008

There's a Cheaper Way

Whangarei Falls


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We probaby picked one of the cheapest ways to travel New Zealand for an extended period. We bought our RV, traveled five months a year in New Zealand, freedom camping part of the time, then stored it on a kiwi farm for $16 per month and flew home to another summer in the states. If you don’t plan to return each year but want to spend several months poking around, really getting to meet the people and finding places off the tourist track, there are cheaper ways.

Hostels are scattered throughout New Zealand– and they are not cheap, smelly, out of the way accommodations for hitch-hiking hippies. Seven YHA Hostels are located north of Auckland. In a converted villa, Whangarei YHA, a ten minute walk to the center of town, overlooks Whangarei Harbour. There’s no age limit. Double and family rooms are available at most hostels and bed linen is supplied. Most have internet access, many have ensuite rooms (attached private bathrooms), some have facilities for people with mobility problems, and all have community kitchens and lounge area to relax or watch TV.

New Zealand hostels are busy from Christmas until about the third week of January when New Zealand schools are on their holiday break. Don’t show up without a reservation during that time. YHA New Zealand is part of the international YHA. Though privately owned, they adhere to the international standards of the YHA network. Rooms are available to YHA members and nonmembers– at an additional charge. If you join Hostelling International, Guest Cards can be purchased and are valid worldwide. Membership prices are inexpensive and can be purchased on the installment plan for about $4 per night. These cards also give you discounts on transportation and activities including a discount of 50% on Air New Zealand domestic flights if you fly standby. Room reservations can be made in advance and are recommended for Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. A free phone is available next to the information desk at the Auckland airport to check room vacancies and make transportation arrangements– that discount card covers the airport shuttle.

For another way to travel New Zealand ans spend less on a room, try a

BBH Hostel. Independently owned and operated, there are over 350 independently owned and operated BBH Hostels in New Zealand. These are smaller hostels with a variety of room sizes including ensuite. Bedding is available, but you’ll save if you bring your own. Like YHA hostels, there are no age requirements. With this unique system, you book and pay on arrival. As their purpose is to provide rooms at the lowest cost, they suggest you don’t "pre-book hundreds of dollars of transport, activities or accommodation before you arrive."

Our Whangarei Hostel
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You’ll find 35 BBH Hostels in Northland alone– four in Whangarei. Independent ratings and rates are posted on BBH. You don’t have to be a member to stay, but they offer a membership card with savings on rooms and travel, free on-line registration, and a $20 pre-paid phone card to help you book ahead. Have questions? Check into their forum and chat with someone who’s used this unique New Zealand plan.

Hostels are an inexpensive way to travel in New Zealand and meet interesting people from all over the world.

Lyn Harris

RV in NZ: How to Spend Your Winters South in New Zealand

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