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Written by Savi, 44 Comments

This is Part 2 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate road trip in New Zealand. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing, driving, budgeting – of planning an unforgettable road trip in New Zealand

Read Part 1 – The Ultimate New Zealand road trip itinerary (opens in a new tab)

Read Part 3 – Travel Fashion – What to pack for a Road Trip in New Zealand (opens in new tab)

Read Part 4- How much will that Road Trip in New Zealand cost (opens in new tab)


“I’ve longed for time – unscheduled time, dream time, quiet time. Time to go, Just go”

Francis Mayes could well be talking about New Zealand when she fawns at the seductiveness of quiet time. New Zealand sets the scene for a dreamy road trip, one like no other! As with our road trips in Iceland and Croatia, we knew we would spend most of our days in New Zealand outdoors. Most days we reached our accommodation at 8 pm only to leave early morning. So comfort, convenience, and location were key while choosing accommodation for our road trip in New Zealand.


We mostly chose mid-range hotels and quaint B&Bs as we went along. Most towns in New Zealand have only motels and B&Bs. They are usually furnished to a high standard with facilities befitting a 3* or 4* hotel.


However if you have the leisure of time and intend to spend time in and around your hotel, New Zealand has a few luxury lodges that offer superb scenic views. If you’re on budget, it has some great hostels too. It is also home to some of the prettiest camping spots in the whole world, so just rent a camper van or motorhome and explore the country at your pace.


Just keep the following things in mind before booking accommodation for your road trip in New Zealand:

  1. Make sure you enquire about parking before booking accommodation. Paid parking can get extortionate in New Zealand. A lot of lodges and hotels offer free parking, but it’s best to check ahead.
  2. Check whether accommodation in question offers wifi. Wifi is a tad patchy in New Zealand and a lot of places only offer paid wifi. This is essential if you like being connected to the world even while you’re on holiday.
  3. Try to opt for accommodation that includes breakfast. It fuels you for the day ahead. Besides breakfast in a café will set you back by at least NZD 15 (£7) per person, so B&Bs just give you extra bang for your buck 🙂


Without further ado, here’s a list of all the places we chose to stay in New Zealand, including a couple of amazing finds, loads of hits and a couple of misses:


New Zealand road trip itinerary accommodation
You will spend most of your time in New Zealand on the road, so prioritise location when choosing accommodation 🙂


New Zealand road trip accommodation
New Zealand has some of the cutest B&Bs in stunning locations


Day 1: Sleep at an Auckland Airport Hotel

Our flight flew into Auckland Airport at an unearthly hour of 2.30 am. We had a few hours to kill before collecting our car next morning, so we booked a night at Ibis Hotel, situated next to the Auckland Airport itself. The building is conveniently located at a 20-minute walk (5 minute cab ride if you don’t wish to walk) from the International Arrivals Hall. Rooms are small yet comfortable – sparkling linen, fresh towels, and a great shower – everything you’d want from an airport hotel. We managed to sleep for almost 4 hours before collecting our car next morning.

FYI: Parking is free, wifi is paid

Top Tip: In New Zealand, supermarkets are considerably cheaper in larger cities such as Auckland and Christchurch as opposed to the countryside. They also offer a wider variety, so it’s best to stock up in Auckland. There is a huge Countdown supermarket right next to Ibis Hotel. It’s a good place to stock up on essentials – snacks, fruits and veggies, toiletries – for your road trip.


New Zealand where to stay Auckland Airport
Breakfast room at Ibis Hotel, Auckland Airport


Day 2: Explore Auckland City

We wanted to spend a day exploring the city of Auckland, so we booked ourselves a night at Haka Lodge, Auckland. They offer both shared and private rooms. We opted for a private ensuite family room on the second floor, which was extremely spacious. Rooms here are clean and equipped with great showers. There is a common kitchen and cosy dining room as well in case you want to throw a meal together or just catch up with fellow traveller.

Wifi at Haka Lodge, Auckland was the best we had in New Zealand. Unfortunately wifi is paid and limited in most of New Zealand. However we got fast, unlimited wifi here, which is music to my ears (bet you know that well by now!). With my fondness for fast wifi, I’m considering putting together an encyclopedia on wifi speeds in different neighbourhoods around the world 😉


FYI: Parking is paid and hard to find but wifi is free

Top Tip: Auckland has some of the world’s best coffee. If you’re a connoisseur of good coffee or a purveyor of third wave coffee, make sure you try some independent cafes in the city. It’s hard to go wrong here.


New Zealand Road Trip where to stay in Auckland
Private en-suite family room at Haka Lodge, Auckland


Days 3- 5: Experience geothermal activity at Lake Rotorua

Drives get prettier by the second as you inch towards the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Rotorua is at the heart of tourism in New Zealand’s North Island and there is definitely no shortage of things to do here – thermal pools, maori villages, dazzling lakes – you name it!


Lake Rotorua is the focal point of all activity, so a lake-side lodge is a bit of a no-brainer! We found Shula’s Lodge by complete accident but this cosy lodge, overlooking the shores of Lake Rotorua, might be one our favourite stops in New Zealand. The lake-side B&B has everything one could possibly need. You walk to the entrance via a garden laden with flowers and fruit trees. Inside, all 3 rooms have been furnished to a high standard. We opted for the Tui Room overlooking Lake Rotorua. The room had fast wifi, spotless linen, an electric kettle, plenty of tea & coffee, a work desk, and a well-equipped bathroom. It’s the hosts that make Shula’s Lake Lodge special. Ginie bakes her own cookies, makes her own preserves and trail mix, and puts a delightful spread on the table at breakfast each morning. Bob and Ginie are the nicest possible hosts and made sure we left the house with smiles on our faces each morning.


FYI: Free wifi and free parking

Top Tip: Opt for the Tui room for a stunning view from the room and easy access to a large patio overlooking the lake.


New Zealand road trip where to stay rotorua
Our bedroom at Shula’s Lodge, Rotorua


Patio overlooking the lake at Shula's Lodge, Rotorua
Patio overlooking the lake at Shula’s Lodge, Rotorua


Days 6 & 7: Soak in hot springs at Lake Taupo

On these days, you can choose where to sleep depending on your preferences. If you want to explore volcanic and geothermal areas, Taupo is the place to be. If you enjoy nature, Napier is a great place for you. If you want to explore a winery or two, choose Wellington. We chose the newly made quarters of Haka Lodge, Taupo that offer private accommodation. Wifi is fast and there is a large shared kitchen. Private rooms are clean but they can get quite cramped. If you are not driving, you can check out some of the country wide tours offered by Haka tours.


FYI: Free wifi and free parking

Top Tip: Try the coffee at Ozone Coffee Roasters in Taupo City Centre – nom!


Hake Lodge Taupo
Private bedroom at Haka Lodge, Taupo


Day 8: Sleep overnight in Picton

On this particular day, we crossed over from North Island to South Island. We drove from Taupo to Wellington, took the Interislander Ferry, and reached the South Island. Our ferry reached the town of Picton (South Island) at 7 pm and we spent the night in a ‘luxury’ apartment in the town. Unfortunately it was cramped, rough around the edges, and had particularly bad wifi, so we can’t recommend a place for this part of the journey :-(. You can search for and compare some hotels here.


Day 9: Go whale watching in Kaikoura

The maritime town of Kaikoura, famous for its whales and seals, is a pleasant 2 hour drive away from Picton. The coastal drive to Kaikoura will leave you spell bound. We slept at Brook House B&B, a quaint little offering close to the centre, in Kaikoura. We left early next morning, so we spent less than 6 hours at Brook House B&B but it was a great pit-stop. The owner, Judy, has decorated the entire accommodation with flowers, plants, and vintage china. There’s plenty of tea and coffee available 24X7 along with a special little treat – Judy’s freshly-baked chocolate muffins.


FYI: Free wifi and free parking

Top Tip: Try the Kaikoura Peninsula Coastal Walk. It’s a long-winded hike that offers the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise those muscles. You’ll spot loads of sea lions along the way.


New Zealand road trip accommodation Kaikoura
Brook House B&B, Kaikoura


Judy's B&B in Kaikoura
Brook House B&B in Kaikoura


Days 10 & 11: Be spellbound at Arthur’s Pass National Park

The Bealey Hotel is situated in one of the most recognizable and gorgeous panoramas of New Zealand: The Bealey Valley. The hotel has rustic cabins, which offer complete privacy to guests. Each cabin has a kitchenette, spacious dining area, and bedroom. All cabins have balconies overlooking the river. The view from the cabins will leave you completely gobsmacked! We woke up to billowing flowers, misty clouds suspended over mountains, and the riverbed each morning. The Bealey Hotel was definitely the most scenic accommodation on our road trip of New Zealand. Just wish we could’ve stayed longer!

The Bealey Hotel also boasts of a bustling restaurant that is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.

FYI: Free Parking. Wifi is free but limited because internet connectivity in the Arthur’s Pass National Park is via satellite.

Top Tip: The Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall, close to Arthur’s Pass village, is great for a morning hike.


New Zealand road trip accommodation
Individual self-serviced cabins at The Bealey Hotel


New Zealand where to stay South Island
Our cabin at The Bealey Hotel, Arthur’s Pass National Park


where to stay Arthurs Pass National Park
View from our cabin at The Bealey Hotel


Days 12 & 13: Take in the best New Zealand has to offer at Lake Wanaka

We struggled to find accommodation in Wanaka – everything was sold out during peak season! Finally we settled for a private ensuite room at Base Wanaka. Great decision because it is centrally located. Everything in town is just a short walk away and there is a huge supermarket right next door. The room and bathroom were small but well equipped. We didn’t spend much time indoors but if you do, there is a movie room and a huge share kitchen to rustle a meal or two.


FYI: Free public parking next door. Wifi is paid (NZD 8/day) but super fast.

Top Tip: Don’t forget to go stargazing at Lake Wanaka. The night skies are stunning anytime of the year.


New Zealand road trip accommodation wanaka
Private ensuite room at Base Wanaka


New Zealand road trip wanaka
Base Wanaka


Days 14-17: Go on unbelievable drives in Queenstown

Everything you’ve seen or read about Queenstown is true. It’s inimitable beauty leaves all tourists spellbound and we were no different. Of course you can stay in Queenstown itself – the centre has some gorgeous properties such as the Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa. However they tend to be expensive because of the premium location. For something more affordable, check out Haka Lodge, Queenstown.


However we wanted to stay away from the hustle bustle and the lights of Queenstown so we could witness (and photograph!) spectacular night skies everyday. If, like us, you choose to stay away from the centre, you will find plenty of B&Bs and cottages around Queenstown’s Lake Wakitapu. Expect homely B&Bs and lodges punctuated with quirky tidbits. My favourite feature in these countryside B&Bs is always the large glass windows with sunlight streaming in from the garden and beyond it, the lake.



FYI: Free wifi and free parking at most placces

Top Tip: Go stargazing on the outskirts of Queenstown. On a clear day, the night skies here are like nothing you’ve ever seen – thousands, nay millions, of twinkling stars everywhere you look.


Where to stay on New Zealand Roadtrip Queenstown
It’s easy to find some great AirBnBs around Queenstown


New Zealand road trip accommodation queenstown
Try finding an apartment that is both cosy and scenic


Days 18 & 19: Wrap up things in Christchurch

It’s the end of your epic road trip. If you want to do your laundry and ready yourself for your next destination (like us!) or just want a spacious functional hotel, then All Stars Inn is perfect. There’s no doubt it’s a busy hotel – it boasts of a variety of accommodation and can accommodate 300 people. We opted for a extremely spacious double ensuite room equipped with a great shower, electric kettle, fridge, and toaster.


FYI: Free (super-fast) wifi and free parking

Top Tip: Hop over to Pure Cafe nearby for breakfast and a great cup of coffee.

All Stars Inn at Christchurch


New Zealand roadtrip where to stay Christchurch
Our spacious room at All Stars Inn, Christchurch


Read all our New Zealand experiences here.

44 thoughts on “New Zealand Road Trip Accommodation – Where To Stay

  1. the simplicity and rawness of the rooms is so fresh !! i cant even imagine how amazing it would have felt to be there !!!

  2. I don’t need to tell you that the trip sounded amazing. You were there. Thanks for sharing the structure of the route you travelled as that was useful too. But you kind of had me at ‘coffee’. Any place with a good coffee culture going on is alright by me.

  3. Hi Savi and Vid, loved your blogs about New Zealand. Could you please share which websites you used for finding the accommodations? Our family of 6 is visiting in December and i’m struggling to find cheaper stay options on, vrbo etc. I noticed that some of the places you have mentioned don’t even show up there.

  4. Hi. Did u guys stay overnight at Milford sound?
    Also we are thinking of giving Christchurch a miss? Any thought. Thanks

    1. Hi Ashverya,

      No, we did a day trip from Queenstown to Milford sound 🙂

      If you are short on days, you can skip Christchurch!

      Have a great trip 🙂

  5. I know you’re tired of hearing this, but great work with bruisedpassports!

    I and my wife are planning our honeymoon to New Zealand, and neither of us are comfortable with those set itineraries where you know which city you’re going to be in on which day, even before the trip begins. Both of us enjoy that feeling of being a nomad, and having the flexibility of extending or cutting our stay short in a city if we love it or get bored there for some reason.

    Driving by ourselves will take care of the traveling bit. What I am more concerned about, is finding accommodation on short notice. Did you plan accommodation for your entire trip before you started, or winged it from one destination to another?

    1. Hi Pranay,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words 🙂

      If you’re heading to NZ in the peak months (December-February), DEFINITELY book accommodation beforehand. We booked weeks in advance and even then we struggled to find accommodation in some of the places.

      Outside these peak tourist months, you should be fine if you decide to wing it 🙂

  6. Your blog already took me for a virtual tour. Thankyou for the same beautiful journey everytime bruised passports 🙂

    I’m planning to travel here in December 1st week .kinda sorted all the things with the blog. Just wanted to know if it is easy to drive for an Indian driver or should I go with other options?

    1. Hey so happy to hear that. Yes an Indian driving license works if you want to rent a car and drive in New Zealand.

  7. Hi Savi and Vid,

    you post is soo soo informative and useful. Just love reading your stories.
    i am planning my trip to NZ for 12 days from Melbourne, what would you suggest North or South or can we cover both?
    Is October a good time to travel if you could suggest.

    1. Hey Neha – would recommend just sticking to South Island if you have 12 days. October is a good time 🙂

  8. Hey thanks for the detailed itinerary. I felt I was there. We are having a big family trip in NZ in sept for 16 days and don’t want to miss any of these spots. What do we do?

  9. Hi Savi & Vid – I absolutely in love with everything you share. I am planning my honeymoon in March and since we have 10 days – we are thing to cover South Island. Can you guys suggest what all we must cover in South. Thank you in Advance 🙂

  10. Every single place you stayed looks amazing. Especially The Bealey Hotel, for its picturesque scenery. Noted.(incase I ever come there.)

  11. Hi,

    We are planning a similar trip so this blg has been a godsend!
    Q re accomodation, did you book it all in advance?


    1. Hi Alex,

      Yes, all in advance as we were visiting New Zealand in peak tourist season so didn’t want to take any chances.

  12. I LOVED reading your New Zealand road trip article. We are visiting in April but only have 2 weeks. We are starting in Auckland then heading up to Mangawhai, then down to the south island. What would you skip to trim it down a few days? Or are we expecting too much? Can’t wait to visit some of the places you photographed- they look incredible!

    1. Hey Patricia,

      You can decide as per your preference what you’d like to skip, but let us assure you that in the end it does not matter because all places in New Zealand are so beautiful 🙂

  13. I always like how comprehensive you are in your Blog, very detailed. This is more of a book than a Blog. You also have a unique Blog one won’t see in other blogs.

    Thank you for useful sharing. Greetings.

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  15. Treat yourself to a life-long memory, a connection with the past, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Let us take you across pristine waters of Lake Te Anau, surrounded by the untouched beauty the Fiordland National Park with primeval forest, hidden coves, picturesque islands and breath-taking mountain vistas. Step back in time to an era when elegance was common, adventure was the basis of the daily news and new frontiers captured the heart of nations. We invite you to join us aboard Faith in Fiordland, a 66-foot (20-meter) motor sailer built in Scotland from teak, oak and mahogany, now moored at the historic wharf at Lake Te Anau, Fiordland.

  16. Thanks for detailed trip summary.
    It is very successful and about hotel or motel we use to take accommodation which is not far from city and hotels are used only for short stay. So we save on it and try to use funds in other things while travelling.

  17. Planning a 20 days trip to Newzeland in December. Will share our updates how it was.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and trip plan with us. It’s very useful.

  18. Thank you for putting these NZ articles together! I am using these posts to plan a trip for my in-laws 🙂
    I think this is an accurate summary of the itinerary for anyone who is looking to copy it exactly!
    2 nights Auckland
    3 nights Lake Rotorua
    2 nights Taupo
    1 night Picton
    1 night Kaikoura
    2 nights Arthur’s Pass
    2 nights Wanaka
    4 nights Queenstown
    2 nights Christchurch

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