The Palace Backpackers

5 Best Hostels in Nelson: Affordable Accommodations for Exploring NZ’s South Island

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I spent several months living in one of the best hostels in Nelson and plenty of time visiting my friends who were staying at other backpackers in town. Whether you’re stopping over for a quick trip or planning on spending a good amount of time in Nelson, you’ll find a welcoming environment with some quirky places to stay.

As one of my favorite destinations in the world, I’m stoked to share this list. Keep reading to discover the best hostels in Nelson from a hostel-goer who knows the area well.

Coming up in this guide:

  • Funky, welcoming hostels catering to budget travelers
  • Top restaurants and nearby attractions
  • Local advice and things to do

Quick Answer: What Are the Best Hostels in Nelson?

Best LocationThe Palace Backpackers
Best Hostel for Solo TravelersTasman Bay Backpackers
Best Hostel for CouplesPrince Albert Backpackers

Budget-Friendly Hostels in Nelson

The Palace Backpackers

The Palace Backpackers
Source: The Palace Backpackers
Address:114 Rutherford Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (Get Directions)
Phone:+64 3 548 4691
Location score:7.7/10 rating:9.0/10
Google rating:4.2/5
Shared dorm starting price:$32/night
Private room starting price:$74/night

Best for: Unique atmosphere, huge private rooms, and single beds in dorms (no bunks).

The Palace Backpackers is not only one of the best hostels in Nelson but one of my favorite hostels in the entire world. It’s set in a massive historic property atop a hill overlooking the city. Simply put, it has magnificent views and an incredibly unique atmosphere. 

The hostel is decked out to the nines with extraordinary details, crazy cool bathrooms, and spacious rooms. It’s a place for misfits, hopeless wanderers, and special souls. That’s probably the reason why I spent several months living here. 

There’s free breakfast every morning, many cozy areas to hang out, and a vibe you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re tired of bunk beds, the dorms at Paace feature singles rather than double-deckers. What’s more, the private rooms are well worth the splurge if you need extra privacy (and a lot of space).

Local’s Insider Tip

The entrance to the Palace can be tricky to find. You can access it by car from the slope behind the gas station or on foot via the painted stairs on Rutherford Street. It’s located in town, but since it’s on a hill, it’s quieter than if it was in the heart of the CBD. On Saturday mornings, head to nearby Montgomery Square for Nelson’s weekly market, which is full of artisans and local products. 

Tasman Bay Backpackers

Address:10 Weka Street, The Wood, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (Get Directions)
Phone:+64 3 548 7950
Location score:8.8/10 rating:8.7/10
Google rating:4.6/5
Shared dorm starting price:$30/night
Private room starting price:$76/night

Best for: Small dorms, quieter atmosphere.

Set a few blocks from the CBD, Tasman Bay Backpackers is among my favorite hostels in Nelson for a chilled-out stay. Take your pick from a six-, four-, or three-bed dorm room or a private if you need extra time. The smaller dorms are a nice treat and are significantly quieter than a ten or twelve-bed alternative you’ll find at other backpackers. 

This Nelson hostel is between the city center and the water – a great location if you plan to hit the beach or marina. When you’re hanging around the hostel, be sure to take advantage of the speedy WiFi, multiple common areas, and the complimentary nightly treat designed to bring social guests together. 

Local’s Insider Tip

Just because this hostel is located outside the CBD doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice walkability. Plenty of places, like a Countdown grocery store, Trafalgar Park, and the Center of New Zealand monument, are a quick stroll away from the Tasman Bay Backpackers.

Bridge Backpackers

Bridge Backpackers
Source: Bridge Backpackers
Address:8 Bridge Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (Get Directions)
Phone:+64 3 548 0022
Location score:9.2/10 rating:7.5/10
Google rating:4.0/5
Shared dorm starting price:$35/night
Private room starting price:$64/night

Best for: Modern, renovated hostel with large common areas.

As one of the more modern hostels, there’s a lot to love about Bridge Backpackers. Expect bright and airy dorms (female-only options available) with top-notch facilities that you likely aren’t going to find at any of the other hostels around. 

The shared kitchen is spacious, with tons of burners and multiple ovens, while the dining area can accommodate large group meals. Common areas are also super appreciated, filled with cozy reading nooks, an on-site gym, and lots of space to hang out outside. 

If you opt for a private room, you’ll be treated to built-in wardrobes, ensuite bathrooms, and sometimes even a desk to get some work done. No details were spared during the 2017 renovation of the Bridge Backpackers, ensuring it’s one of the best hostels in Nelson, now and for years to come. 

Local’s Insider Tip

Located on Bridge Street, this Nelson backpackers is right in the CBD. When you need a quick bite, be sure to hit Falafel Gourmet for the best Middle Eastern food in New Zealand. There’s also an amazing Vietnamese spot called Green Bamboo a block away. 

YHA Nelson

YHA Nelson
Source: YHA Nelson
Address:59 Rutherford Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (Get Directions)
Phone:+64 3 545 9988
Location score:9.4/10 rating:8.4/10
Google rating:4.0/5
Shared dorm starting price:$38/night
Private room starting price:$139/night

Best for: Basic accommodation in town with a “Day Use” option.

If you’ve spent time in New Zealand, you’ll know that YHAs are everywhere. The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is one of the best options for budget accommodation. It’s never anything fancy, but it’s a dependable choice in cities and small towns throughout the country.

The YHA is among the top hostels in Nelson, with friendly hosts, a great location, and accessible pricing. There are six and eight-bed dorms with a female option, along with a triple (great if you’re traveling with a small group), and a variety of private rooms with either ensuites or shared bathrooms. 

The lodging is pretty basic but has everything you need for an easy stay, like lockers in the dorms and large common areas. It’s well equipped, whether you’re looking for games in the lounge or cooking utensils in the kitchen. Stay for a couple of nights or across several months – this is a quieter backpackers with a whole lot of charm.

Local’s Insider Tip

Check-out is at 11 AM, but take advantage of the “Day Use” option if you need extra time. It’s a cheap way to have a home base and use the YHA’s facilities without paying for a bed. This is particularly handy given that this Nelson backpackers is located right on the edge of the CBD, walking distance to all of the city’s best sights.

Prince Albert Backpackers

Prince Albert Backpackers
Source: Prince Albert Backpackers
Address:113 Nile Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (Get Directions)
Phone:+64 3 548 8477
Location score:8.9/10 rating:8.2/10
Google rating:4.4/5
Shared dorm starting price:$27/night
Private room starting price:$100/night

Best for: Old school environment with a pub on the ground floor and free bike rentals.

The Prince Albert is the sister hostel of Bridge Backpackers, located above the Prince Albert’s Bar. It has a really homey feel, with smaller common areas in a residential setting. The dorms feature wooden bunks with a personal shelf, privacy curtain (a rarity in Nelson), and storage underneath. If you’re traveling as a couple, the private rooms are economically priced as an alternative to the dorms.

When you’re not lounging around, catch a game on TV, swing in a hammock in the courtyard, or head to the pub on the ground floor. I’ve spent much time drinking here, and it’s a great place to rub elbows with friendly Nelson locals. 

Every Thursday evening in the winter, Prince Albert hosts a free quiz night, and the hostel has lots of fun extras like free cruiser bikes, cheap mountain bike rentals, and luggage storage if you want to spend a few nights in Abel Tasman. 

Local’s Insider Tip

This Nelson backpackers is located on the fringe of the CBD, a quick walk to the Botanical Reserve, which houses the Center of New Zealand monument. If you want to explore a bit further, borrow one of the free cruiser bikes and ride to Tahuanui Beach for a day on the sand. 

Things to Do in Nelson

With a prime location at the Top of the South, Nelson offers no shortage of things to do.

Explore the glistening Golden Bay, hike around Nelson Lakes National Park, or kayak through Abel Tasman. Even when you’re hanging around town, there’s plenty to enjoy. Check out the true center of New Zealand, sprawling Tahuanui Beach, Japanese gardens, a botanical park, and multiple museums.  

Try GetYourGuide if you’re looking for a convenient way to get insights from local experts and have curated itineraries.

Explore their selection of Nelson experiences below:

FAQs about Hostels in Nelson

What is the average price for a hostel in Nelson?

The average price for a hostel in Nelson depends on the time of year you visit and which type of room you book. The summer months (December to February) can bring higher prices to keep up with the surge in visitors. That said, all the hostels mentioned above have accessible pricing for budget travelers. 

Generally, you can expect to find hostel prices in Nelson as follows:

  • $30-$35 per night for a bed in a shared dorm room.
  • $75-$100 per night for a private dorm room

Where can I book Nelson Hostels?

Our favorite places to book Nelson hostels are Hostelworld and, where you can compare prices and read additional reviews.

Further Reading

Hostels in Nelson are truly one-of-a-kind. I’ve yet to stay somewhere as unique or interesting as the places I stayed in Nelson.

As epic home bases for exploring the incredible region, these hostels promise comfortable lodging, affordable pricing, and lifelong friends for social guests. 

Looking for more accommodations in New Zealand? Read our articles below:

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