Blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions… need I say more?

Seriously though, if I knew how up close and personal you could get to this rare wildlife I would have booked my plane ticket to Dunedin far sooner. Penguins in a country like New Zealand? Who knew?!

Backpackers from across the globe almost always have Australia and New Zealand on their bucket list. It is pretty much a right of passage for travelers to take that ridiculously long flight across the globe. But if you do decide to take that flight, backpacking across New Zealand is well worth it.

The hostels in Dunedin are limited but the ones that do exist are accommodating to all travelers. They all offer affordable rooms nearby to the city center while also having a specific edge that sets them apart from one another.

Ultimately Dunedin does not fall into the stereotype that most cities do. Dunedin is an escape from traffic, noise, and the “hustle and bustle” and instead offers a natural oasis equipped with Edwardian charm, museums, and did I say, penguins?

Here’s how we do it: the BEST hostels in Dunedin for backpackers and everyone else!

Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Dunedin

New Zealand Dunedin

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What to Expect from Hostels in Dunedin

Look, staying in a hostel isn’t for everyone. It can actually be quite daunting and it definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone. However, if you’re willing to try it out just once, you might never look back. 

I’m more than pleased to say that as a female traveler, I have only had good experiences in hostels. When solo traveling it’s fairly easy to become lonely and hostels provide that sense of community that is often missed as you backpack across the world. Plus, with so much to do while backpacking New Zealand, what better time than now to make a new friend and explore this beautiful country together?

When staying in hostels, you’ll notice that the other travelers are weird… but in a good way. You’ll have people who just love to talk, others who will make you feel like a traveling newbie, and some people with the best stories you will have ever heard.

a group of friends at a hostel
We love a bit of hostel life.
Photo: @amandaadraper

Now, although I have had great hostel experiences, they basically offer no privacy unless you pay for a private room. Private rooms are pretty pricey in Dunedin but may be worth considering if this is your first time at a hostel. If you’re tightening the purse strings for this trip, hostels in Dunedin with group dorms will be the better choice.

Here is what you can expect to pay:

  • Group dorms – $15 – $20 per night 
  • Private rooms – $42 – $50 per night

As for location, you’ll want to be as close to the city center as possible as this is where all the worthwhile attractions are featured. Plus, there really isn’t anything worse than planning a city break to waste your day stuck in taxis and waiting for buses. The locations I have picked are all within 15 minutes of the main square, you’ll thank me for that.

You’ll notice that I have used and Hostelworld when selecting these hostels. These websites offer discounts that you wouldn’t receive if you booked directly and the site is easy to navigate.

Check out the rating systems and always read reviews from previous guests. They also feature photos, a list of the facilities offered, and information on the nearby attractions.

The final aspect you need to consider is the type of experience you are hoping to have. 

Are you looking for a hostel to mingle with solo travelers? Or, does your social battery tend to become drained and you prefer to have your own private space? You’ll want to consider this before selecting your hostel. 

Best Hostels in Dunedin

Now that you know what to expect in Dunedin, you just have to figure out where to stay.

Each of the accommodations listed has a specific identifier, great reviews, modern facilities, and is located in the best destination to get the most out of your trip.

So, without further ado, here are the best hostels in Dunedin. 

On Top Backpackers – Best Overall Hostel in Dunedin

On Top Backpackers Dunedin

Kicking off this list with a bang is a hostel located right in the city center. As the name suggests, On Top Backpackers is designed for backpackers making their way across New Zealand.

When you step inside this hostel, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. The staff are more than welcoming and have really worked to create a relaxed, “no pressure to socialize” type of atmosphere. However, with so many interesting people who share the same passion for traveling, you might just get caught up in conversation with the other guests.

Inside, discover a vintage café and bar lounge where you can bag yourself a coffee to spark energy after that grueling flight. Or, indulge in a cocktail because the multiple alcoholic beverages you downed on the plane weren’t enough (am I speaking too much about my own experience staying in New Zealand? You’ll never know).  

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Home away from home atmosphere
  • Vintage café
  • Delicious continental breakfast 

For those who have been surviving on vending machine food and airplane meals, you’ll be glad to know that a continental breakfast is offered to guests every single day. The rooms here are also very affordable in comparison with neighboring hotels and you can choose from female-only dorms, mixed dorms, and private rooms. If you bag yourself a deluxe double private room, you’ll even get an ensuite. 

Return to the hostel in the evenings for a delicious barbecue dinner surrounded by new people who will soon become your best friends. And with views that overlook the city, you’ll be cementing memories that last a lifetime.

Manor House Backpackers – Best Affordable Hostel in Dunedin

Manor House Backpackers Dunedin

Built in the early 1920s, this manor house in New Zealand has been converted into one of the most affordable hostels in Dunedin. The hostel is conveniently located in a quiet street with a lovely garden and of course, BBQ facilities (it couldn’t be a top-rated New Zealand hostel without that).

This hostel caters for everyone. Large groups, solo travelers, and couples are all welcome here. You’ll seriously feel like a part of the family as soon as you set foot inside. They have a lovely home away from home atmosphere that will encourage you to spark conversations with strangers and chat with the friendly staff.

Another thing that I think is worth mentioning is the nearby supermarket. I can’t be the only one who loves checking out supermarkets when traveling to different countries, right? They always have so many fun snacks and drinks to try! For travelers like myself, you should know that there is a store right down the road where you can find New Zealand’s best treats. Vegemite, anybody?

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Charming architecture
  • Lots of hot showers

As I mentioned, the rooms of this hostel are perfect for any type of traveler. The group rooms are an affordable option if you’re sticking to a budget. If you’re traveling in a group, then there is a 3 bed private room with a shared ensuite which will be far more comfortable than staying in a group dorm. 

Most of all, the staff are incredibly welcoming. They just want you to experience everything New Zealand has to offer. Make sure to head to the travel desk to book excursions and tours around the city. If you’re more inclined to explore the city at your own leisure, the staff are also more than happy to simply point you in the direction of the local hot spots.

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Aether Backpack

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Uptown Backpackers – Best Hostel in Dunedin for Solo Travelers

Uptown Backpackers Dunedin

Conveniently located right in the city center, this is easily one of the best hostels in Dunedin. Welcoming all travelers but perfect for solo travelers, this hostel is conveniently located and has a strong sense of community.

If you enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene, then this hostel will be your best bet. You’ll find yourself right by the best bars, cafes, and restaurants in Dunedin.

Plus the train station is moments away and ready to take you further throughout New Zealand. You could even schedule a day trip or amazing New Zealand hikes.

This hostel is a hotspot for solo travelers and after meeting new friends, you may want to extend your stay. You’ll find travelers chatting up a storm in the lounge area, sharing stories, and planning their next activity.

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Located in the city center
  • Variety of room types 
  • Welcoming atmosphere

As for the rooms, there are a variety of mixed dorms to choose from. For females who need some security, you’ll be glad to find female-only group dorms. Female-only dorms can make you feel much safer as a solo female traveler and you can easily meet girls with the same passion as you!

Each of the rooms also have both heating and air-con, so no matter what time of year you visit Dunedin, you’ll be able to comfortably sleep through the night. Now the amenities aren’t out of this world but you’ll have everything you need to get by. They do have additional comforts such as hair dryers and hair straighteners which if your hair struggles with humidity in the summer, you will appreciate. 

While you might have to sacrifice a BBQ for store-bought food instead, this hostel is an affordable option. Plus, being right in the city center will mean that you can access all of the best entertainment in Dunedin without paying more for transport.

Chalet Backpackers – Great Dorms For Couples in Dunedin

Chalet Backpackers Dunedin

History enthusiasts might love this one (which is something I never thought I would say about a hostel). This formally Edwardian hospital has been converted into a hostel that now caters to all backpackers from across the globe.

Despite being welcoming to everyone, this is one of the best hostels in Dunedin for couples. Mainly because of the peaceful location. There are various walking routes around this area in Dunedin and great restaurants for a date night. 

The hostel itself is also equipped with a beautiful courtyard and herb garden where you can experience a slow morning together. Plan your day under the rising sun and take in the lovely views of the city. Could it get any better than that?

Before heading on the town, spark up some healthy competition in the games room, and chat with the other guests. After the morning passes, head straight to the harbor for fresh sea air, a lovely seafood lunch, and take a walk into the city. 

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Games room
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Lounge area with books and games

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to rooms. Most importantly, there are double beds and twin rooms available, so you can have your own privacy. Because of this hostel formerly being a hospital, the rooms are each equipped with their own sinks which limits bumping into other guests in the shared bathrooms.

As mentioned, they have a games room where you can mingle with other guests in the evening. Or, you can simply retire here for a solid hour of reading your vacation book of choice. These areas in hostels are always the perfect location to spark up a conversation with a stranger, you seriously never know who you might meet. 

The best part about this hostel for couples is the peaceful atmosphere. This hostel is set in a tranquil part of the town and there is no huge pressure to mingle with the other guests. You can simply go about your Dunedin trip and retire back here in the evening and feel both safe and secure.

Superior Dunedin Apartments – Epic Hostel for Digital Nomads

Superior Dunedin Apartments

If you’re looking for a little more luxury, these apartments in Dunedin may be more up your street. While this isn’t quite a hostel, this is still an affordable accommodation option for those on a budget.

These apartments in Dunedin are moments away from Dunedin’s most popular attractions but most of all, these apartments offer far more privacy. You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips including a flat-screen TV, a private kitchenette, and fresh towels.

If you’re living as a digital nomad and need a fast internet connection, I would recommend staying here. You’ll have your own area to get your work done without being distracted by other guests. Plus, you won’t find yourself fighting over the best spot to stay connected to the internet. 

Why you’ll love this hostel:

  • Private double rooms available
  • Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Housekeeping

The rooms are much more spacious and accommodating than in regular hostels but they also tend to hike up the prices too. However, for the sake of privacy, it may be worth the extra cost. 

As mentioned, you will be expected to self-cater but the kitchenette is adorned with amenities to cook your favorite dish; you can even treat yourself to your own private BBQ on the patio. Grilled burgers while overlooking the city landscape? It doesn’t get much better than that.

After you’ve completed your work in record time, you’ll have so much to do right on your doorstep. This means that you won’t have to waste time traveling from each location and you can really get the most out of your trip. If you’re on a South Island road trip, parking is also available.

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Active Roots Security Belt

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What to Pack for your Dunedin Hostel

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hostel Packing list for even more top hostel packing tips!

Dunedin Hostels FAQs

Still not sure? Here are some more common questions we get asked about hostels in Dunedin…

How much do hostels in Dunedin cost?

Dunedin hostel price ranges from $15 – $20 per night for group dorms, while private room price ranges from $42 – $50 per night.

What are the best hostels in Dunedin for couples?

Chalet Backpackers is an ideal hostel for couples in Dunedin. It has a relaxing vibe, is located in the tranquil part of the town, and has a lounge area with books and games for socials.

What are the best hostels in Dunedin near the airport?

Superior Dunedin Apartments, the epic hostel for digital nomads, is a budget accommodation near the Dunedin Airport.

Travel Safety Tips for Dunedin

Wherever you’re going traveling, things don’t always go to plan. That’s life, baby. That’s why those who love to wander NEED good travel insurance.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Dunedin’s Hostels

So, the long flight to New Zealand will be worth it after all. These hostels in Dunedin did seem to impress. 

Still on the fence about staying in a hostel? I met some of my best friends while I was living my best life and traveling from one hostel to the next and On Top Backpackers seems like one of the good ones. The rooms are far more affordable than booking a hotel and there seems to be a pleasant atmosphere that runs throughout the entire hostel. 

Wherever you choose to stay, your city break in Dunedin will be jam packed with harbour views, beaches, incredible wildlife, and delicious food. So, pack your bags and get going. The penguins are waiting for you.

Looking for more info on travelling to Dunedin and New Zealand?