On Accommodations

Recently a question was posed on the neuseeland-haus.de forum as to whether the number of BBH hostels was decreasing. I attempted an answer of sorts, but then decided I would keep an eye on things. Have a look back at this blog over the next few years and I’ll try to keep you posted.

Anyway this threw up a couple of questions that needed answering in more depth. The last two trips have been done with a couple of Great and other Walks and by doing so I have tried to steer clear of campers and try a small car to get around the country with (see also the blog, “Travelling Around”), so that they can be compared as to how many nights were stayed where. The summary for the two trips is in Table 1.

Table 1: Overnight Stays by Category
Category/Year 2013 2015
BBH 17 31% 17 31%
DOC 15 27% 9 16%
airbnb 14 25% 22 40%
Motor camps, motels 7 13% 3 5%
Private 2 4% 4 7%
Total 55 55
Cost $NZ 2375 $NZ 43.18 per day $NZ 2527 $NZ 45.95 per day

Flexibility is the key here, although I suspect the increase in the airbnb category is due to more accommodation being on offer.

The BBH card would have brought at least $51 savings with it in 2013, and it then included a telephone card which I was able to make some use of before donating it to my airbnb host in Christchurch; in 2015 the savings were $68 on the $45 card with no telephone card this time.

Of the 8 hostels I stayed at in 2015, 6 were still members of BBH at the current writing (December, 2016); of the 9 I stayed at in 2013, 5 were still currently members. This corresponds to a dropout rate of 25% over 2 years and 44% over 4 years. All 17 hostels were still in business, it’s just that 6 of them had decided to go it alone.

Of course, this statistic is useless without knowing how many hostels have joined BBH in the meantime. No longer having the complete listings from 2013 or 2015, this cannot be determined. But just to make a start, there are currently 199 hostels listed in the summer 2016/17 directory (I counted only 198), so we can look forward to how this number progresses in the next few years.

While I was at it I tried to determine what other chains were operating, and how many hostels were in each group. After searching around a little I came up with Table 2.

Table 2: Hostel Organisations and Numbers
Hostel Group Number of Hostels (December, 2016)
BBH (my manual count) 199 (198)
YHA 41
VIP (including BASE) 16 (23)
Nomads (including BASE) 7 (10)
Total 289*
*Some hostels appear to belong to more than one group (e.g. Station Lodge in Ohakune belongs to both YHA and VIP; 3 of the BASE hostels can be booked by Nomads, and the other 7 are with VIP)

In addition there is the website backpackerboard.co.nz which lists all the hostels it can get its hands on: Currently a total of 369 – meaning that at least 80 further, independent hostels are listed there.

There appears to be enough choice, especially when you consider that during my two month stays I stay at 8 or 9 hostels in total. The smaller chains might just be worth it if you are doing Auckland – Rotorua – Wellington – Queenstown.

Much that I enjoy the hosts at airbnb, who I have always found helpful and have provided not only safe, clean, and comfortable lodging but also have opened paths into places in New Zealand not otherwise accessible, the organisation itself is one of those disasters in the making. Recently at least they have begun to display prices inclusive of their commission (and not whacking it on at the end as a kind of surprise), but what is debited from the credit card displays only a tenuous relationship with the price that was booked. Added to which they take a commission from the hosts as well, and in both cases the commission is way too high. The guest thinks they’re paying way too much and the hosts are thinking the guests are rather tight. No. There has to be more transparency here. I have to know that I am paying $56; those $56 have to be debited to the penny from the credit card (and not, let’s add a couple percent and then round up from a price in some other currency and round up again so that I end up paying closer to $65); I have to know that my host is actually receiving $50 (and not that they’re taking off a couple percent, rounding down in some currency and then converted to the target currency and rounding down again, so that they are actually getting only $45). The times when the organisation had to be built up and things had to be learned the hard way are now over, and it’s time to streamline the processes and make them open and transparent. Above all, this stupid double and triple currency conversion has to stop, and a couple of decimal places have to employed. They don’t cost much.

Airbnb 1
Airbnb 1. This is the offer: $NZ 76, €51.46 on the day (December 13, 2016), according to the official rate at oanda.com (Interbank: currency I have is NZD, currency I want [to buy] is EUR)
Airbnb 2
Airbnb 2. Where did that extra dollar come from. Price is now €52.14
Airbnb 3
Airbnb 3. Charge me up. The price is now a good 5% than originally quoted. No


backpackerboard.co.nz: https://www.backpackerboard.co.nz/hostels/, accessed December 3, 2016