The Bay of Plenty is the beating heart of New Zealand’s North Island beach scene and is teeming with plenty of cheap accommodation. Tauranga caters to a backpacker crowd, with plenty of hostels, motels and homestays for the budget traveller.
After spending eight months in Tauranga as a backpacker, I’ve discovered most of the best spots and ones to avoid.
One of the best aspects of finding a place to stay in Tauranga is the sheer abundance of options. From dorm rooms to private accommodation, there are countless choices. The only question is which one to pick?
Whether you’re heading to catch some waves in the Mount or eat your way through The Strand, I’ve rounded up the best cheap accommodation Tauranga has to offer. From one budget traveller to another, let’s dive into the list.
With a funky facade sitting right on The Strand, it’s hard to walk past Wanderlust NZ without doing a double-take. The mint green building with arches and large windows seems to call you from the sidewalk, brimming with budget travellers lining the balconies.
Aside from the attractive exterior, this downtown Tauranga hostel offers modern interiors, pristine shared spaces and an all-around upscale experience (minus the hefty price tag). Filled with elegant sea-themed murals and boasting views over the Bay, Wanderlust is undoubtedly among the best cheap accommodation in Tauranga.
If cleanliness and facilities are at the top of your priority list, Wanderlust is simply sparkling. The dorms sleep between 4 and 12 people and are fresh and welcoming. There are also plenty of private rooms for some extra peace and quiet.
While you have Tauranaga’s best restaurants just outside the front door, the kitchen is well equipped for cooking, and the common spaces allow you to enjoy your meals and the views simultaneously.
Wanderlust NZ may be cheap, but the sunset view from their balcony is worth a million bucks.
From the Staff
What is one thing you want visitors to know about your backpackers’ hostel?Renee, Manager at Wanderlust NZ
Wanderlust is Tauranga’s newest 5-star silver Qualmark awarded hostel and only waterfront accommodation, dedicated to celebrating the desire for discovery, adventure and exploring the world.
It’s more than just a place to stay. Our newly renovated historic building is the preferred stop for travellers and young adventurers wanting high quality, affordable rooms, from backpacker hostel style dorms to upmarket double ensuites. We are committed to protecting our beautiful natural environment, enhancing connections with our local communities, while delivering an amazing quality and safe experience to all our guests. A place with a great vibe and million-dollar harbour views for great value. We want everyone to come stay and make our destination part of their journey too.
How far in advance do guests have to book accommodations?Renee, Manager at Wanderlust NZ
Guests can book up until the actual arrival day, hence there is availability of course. It all depends on the time of the year. A typical year with out Covid-19 we are 90%+ fully booked from October to June. So if guests don’t want to miss out on a booking, it would be advised to plan ahead and secure their beds/room to avoid disappointment. And just a little reminder for everyone that booking directly with the accommodation is always the best way to do it! Especially for small businesses, this could help them a lot not having a 3rd party involved. So always book direct via phone, email or walk in.
Loft 109 Backpackers Hostel
Loft 109 is one of the best places to stay on a budget. It’s an epic home base for exploring Tauranga and the surrounding areas. Loft 109 is smack in the centre of downtown Tauranga, which grants guests easy access to the surrounding shops and waterfront walk lined with restaurants called The Strand.
While the Mount is only a quick drive away, Loft 109 is next to the bike bridge that connects Tauranga to the beach, so if you don’t have a car, this location couldn’t be any better.
Offering a collection of mixed and female dorms with lockers and private rooms with balconies, this is a great place to meet other travellers with welcoming common spaces and plenty of group activities.
Among the most famous hostels for cheap accommodation in Tauranga, the Mount Backpackers is always a guaranteed good time.
Sitting on the main stretch of downtown Mount Maunganui, this hostel is steps from the best restaurants around and a two-minute walk to the beach. It attracts travellers from far and wide eager to surf, hike, and meet other young people. If you’re hoping to be in the centre of all the action, this is the place to be.
The hostel itself is simple but does the trick, with a range of dorm rooms and a private double for those seeking a bit more privacy. Common spaces include a shared kitchen, modest lounge and large deck with a BBQ for post-beach beers.
More perks of staying here include wetsuit and surfboard rentals, high-speed WiFi and even bikes for exploring. What more could you ask for on vacation?
ArtHouse Accommodation Boutique Backpackers
For more of a boutique experience, ArtHouse Accommodation is a fun change of pace from traditional hostel stays. The entire place is decked out with greenery-themed murals, from accent walls in the rooms to intricate designs in the common spaces (even in the bathroom stalls!).
Situated on Cameron Road, this stay grants easy access to everything as it’s on one of Tauranga’s main streets. On one side, you have a giant park full of walking trails, and on the other, you have downtown. Easily walk to the iSite, art gallery, and The Strand, or take a 5-minute drive to the centre of the Mount.
The dorms are a great option if you’re solo pinching pennies, but the private rooms provide excellent value for couples or friends and make the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram flick. The colourful theme runs through the shared lounge and kitchen, fully stocked with games and all you need for cooking on site.
If you’re seeking a unique stay, look no further. This Tauranga accommodation is anything but dull.
Seascape Villa Bed and Breakfast
Tucked away in a quiet corner of the suburb Otumoetai, you’ll find the ever-charming Seascape Villa B&B. Those keen for a local stay far from the tourist crowds will relish in the peacefulness of this Tauranga accommodation, while only a five-minute drive from the harbour and ten minutes from the Mount.
Expect crisp linens, sweeping garden views and five-star details, not to mention luxurious touches like plush robes, ensuite bathrooms, and plenty of treats. There are only three queen rooms available here, and the property is adult only, offering a nice break from traditionally bustling budget stays.
But the real draw to this charming stay is the Kiwi hospitality. The hosts are warm and welcoming and stick to true B&B fashion with a tasty breakfast spread in the morning.
Hugo & Carters Backpackers & Motel
If you’re after a more upscale stay that won’t break the bank, Hugo & Carters is a brand new hostel and motel hybrid with an industrial feel and swanky atmosphere. They offer four and eight-bed dorms, along with a smattering of private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and chic motel units to accommodate groups of up to six travelling together.
This Tauranga accommodation is oozing style with whitewashed walls, overstuffed leather sofas, wood and iron detailing, and plenty of space to spread out. In the colder months, curl up by the fireplace with a good book, and when the sun is shining, soak it up on the outdoor deck.
You’ll find a shared kitchen and dining room beside the hangout space, along with private parking on-site. Located in Judea, this stay is just a hop and a skip from South Tauranga and a 10-minute drive to the Mount.
Apple Tree Backpackers
This lovely hostel is right across the bridge in Otumoetai, giving guests quick access to the Tauranga and Mount beaches, along with all of the best restaurants in the area. It’s a complex of smaller units, with a large shared kitchen and common area across the grassy yard.
While the rooms are pretty simple, the social atmosphere makes up for it. The Apple Tree Backpackers is a great place to meet other travellers with tons of activities, plenty of space to share a group meal and a plethora of bean bags to hang out on after a long day in the sun.
There are several decks to enjoy, along with a BBQ and free WiFi throughout. When it comes time to explore, borrow one of the property’s kayaks or bikes and head out for the day!
Seagulls Guest House
Are you hoping to stay in Mount Maunganui for cheap? The Seagulls Guesthouse sits right in town, allowing guests to walk to any restaurant, cafe, or shop they desire (don’t miss out on Rice Rice Baby!). It’s also only a stone’s throw away from the beach and a 10-minute walk through town to the base of the Mount, making it the ideal place to stay if you’re looking to be outside.
Sparkling clean with great rates, Seagulls has an old school beach house vibe with floral couches, wood panelling and a cosy sunroom. It has everything a hostel should, like a large lounge area (with a fireplace), a spacious shared kitchen and a terrace with a BBQ area… minus the over-stuffed dorm rooms.
Choose from a double, twin, family or 3-bed shared dorm, ensuring you get the level of privacy that makes you the most comfortable. Far from a party hostel, the Seagulls Guesthouse makes for a quiet stay. There’s on-site parking if you plan to explore the area, and the friendly reception desk can help arrange local activities.
Pacific Coach Lodge
A colourful and inviting cheap accommodation in Tauranga, it’s hard to miss the Pacific Coach Lodge with the vibrant mural along an entire side of the building and the billowing ‘hostel’ flags lining the sidewalk. If there’s one thing this place has, it’s curb appeal.
Located in the centre of Mount Maunganui’s main street, you won’t need a car to go anywhere. It’s a quick walk from the beach and surrounded by the best establishments the Mount has to offer. It has a social atmosphere and is a great place to meet other young travellers or seasonal workers and enjoy some of the Bay of Plenty’s countless adventures.
With dorm rooms ranging from four to ten beds and double and twin rooms, if you’re after some more privacy, the Pacific Coach Lodge has everything a budget traveller needs at a low price. And we mean everything. Spend time in the game room with old school arcade games, on a hammock in the colourful courtyard, or whipping up a meal in the massive open plan kitchen. The possibilities are endless.
Purple Hen Backpackers
Hidden away in Katikati, 35 minutes north of Tauranga, you’ll find the Purple Hen Country Lodge, a charming place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of things. It’s just outside of Katikati’s centre, creating an idyllic environment for anyone seeking some peace and quiet. Be sure to stop at one of the many fresh fruit stands on your drive up!
Guests have the choice to secure a bed in the bunkhouse or rent out the entire guest house (sleeps up to 6) for larger parties. Purple Hen’s is a stay that attracts many seasonal workers, so this is a great place to learn about the local avocado and kiwi industries (or find a job yourself).
There are kitchen, dining and lounge facilities (plus a pool table), a sprawling garden, and an outdoor pizza oven.
The ‘Whare’ – A Hidden Mount Gem
As far as cheap accommodation in Tauranga goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as lovely as The ‘Whare’. I may be biased because I stayed here for several months. That said, this is truly the most enchanting and peaceful place to stay in the area.
Located down a quiet street in the Mount, this budget Airbnb is ideal for solo or couple travellers looking to unwind. The room is accessible with its private entrance and is flanked by gauzy curtains and outfitted with macrame. There’s a shared bathroom and kitchen to use, along with a well-maintained patio and sprawling backyard with a private beachfront.
Though there’s a lot to love about this well-located gem, the best part is the hospitality from the host Te Arahi, who is warm, inviting, and full of knowledge about the local area. And you can’t forget about Ruby the cat, who runs the show with her friendly and playful nature.
Papamoa Beach Self Contained Unit
Practically beachfront and full of privacy, this self-contained unit in Papamoa is one of the best accommodations Tauranga has to offer. It’s ten minutes from Papamoa Plaza (one of the area’s malls) and a two-minute walk to the beach. Papamoa is a cosy unit with everything you could dream of for a budget seaside vacation.
All areas of this Airbnb are for guests only and include a posh living room with sea-themed artwork, a modern bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen. This stay offers a large separate bedroom to relax after a long day rather than a studio layout, which is more common with New Zealand’s self-contained flats.
The space is full of thoughtful touches like books and board games, and there’s WiFi throughout the unit for use as needed.
My final piece of advice? Stay at a place where you can meet locals. While the social hostels are fun, there’s nothing quite like getting the lay of the land from someone who knows it best, and boy, are the Tauranga locals friendly.
Regardless of the type of budget accommodation you’re looking for, Tauranga is bound to have it. From cheap private rooms to super social hostels, you’ll be able to find it all within the Bay of Plenty.
For more information on things to do in Tauranga, read our other articles: