About us

How it all began

In 1909 German school teacher Richard Schirrmann founded the first network of youth hostels in Germany to allow children from cities suffering from the effects of war to have recreational time in the safety of the country. At the end of World War 1 the idea of hostelling spread to other European countries and Cora Wilding founded the first Southern Hemisphere hostel in New Zealand in 1932.

YHA today

Today the Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand is a member based incorporated society and a registered charitable organisation.

YHA New Zealand continues to develop its hostel network in support of its charitable objects, with the Association’s charitable purpose being demonstrated in the way we work.

Today YHA New Zealand manages 17 hostels, and has Associate partner agreements with 30 independently owned hostels. There are approximately 220 employees in the organisation.

Our network not only supports and facilitates travel; it also promotes knowledge and understanding through the social interaction stimulated by our hostels’ communal living and recreational areas. We also actively educate guests and members through a commitment to environmental sustainability which pervades our organisation. We have received many awards and accolades for this over the years.

Affiliation to Hostelling International

YHA New Zealand is affiliated to Hostelling International (HI); which was founded in 1932 as a Federation of Independent National Youth Hostel Associations.

Mission and Values

YHA's Mission and Values are grounded in its charitable objects, defined by the Constitution as:

Aims and Objects

To promote within New Zealand the education, health and well-being of people by providing encouragement and opportunity for the gaining of knowledge and awareness of:

In furtherance of its charitable objects the Association shall provide hostels or similar accommodation, promote educational and recreational activities, facilitate travel, and practice and promote environmental sustainability.

YHA New Zealand’s Mission

To deliver services to members which enrich their understanding of others and the environment by providing quality accommodation and travel experiences.

Organisation Commitments

In working to achieve its mission, YHA New Zealand is committed to: 

Operating in a sustainable manner; reflected in a triple bottom line commitment.

Developing and maintaining relationships with Maori which recognise their indigenous status in New Zealand.

Living its values of integrity, respect, passion and excellence.






We share a set of core values that define us as an organisation and the way we work within the organisation, with guests, with stakeholders and our industry partners. These values are:


We demonstrate honesty, fairness, openness and clear boundaries in all our interactions, behaviours and practices within the organisation and with our guests, stakeholders and the wider community.

Supporting Behaviour

Conflicting behaviour

Shows accountability for decisions and actions to stakeholders, guests and fellow staff.

Says one thing and does another.

Develops and encourages open and honest work practices and relationships.

Criticises others behind their back

Takes personal responsibility for actions and behaviours. Maintains confidentiality and loyalty.

Acts in a dishonest and fraudulent manner.

Delivers on actions promised and keeps undertakings.

Deliberately withholds information from colleagues.


Publicly criticises YHA New Zealand.


We acknowledge and respect differences in each other, and provide a safe, supportive environment in which all individuals and staff are valued, and encouraged to engage in open two-way communication.

Supporting Behaviour

Conflicting behaviour

We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

Fails to share or embrace information that enhances understanding of diversity.

Values different cultures and beliefs, and shows this in day-to-day words and actions.

Fails to respect the rights of all groups and individuals.

Displays respect for and awareness of individual differences.

Does not acknowledge the contributions of others.

Seeks out, listens to, and respects the ideas and opinions of others.

Makes preconceived assumptions about others’ work or ideas and isn’t prepared to listen to alternative points of view.

Engages in honest and direct communication at all levels in the organisation.

Ignores or colludes with oppressive behaviour.


We will set the standard in service delivery, through a commitment to excellence, innovation, ongoing learning and continuous improvement.

Supporting Behaviour

Conflicting behaviour

Encourages a participatory work environment and is committed to working with, and learning from, others.

Focuses only on the short-term.

Is a positive role model for YHA, both internally and externally.

Tolerates under performance in self and in others.

Adopts a positive approach in change.

Procrastinates and tends to find reasons why things can’t be done.

Looks for ways to deliver services better.

Misses learning opportunities by working in an insular fashion.

Accepts personal responsibility to drive improvements in the way things are done.

Shows no interest in improving knowledge or skills.

Demonstrates a commitment to teamwork and sharing knowledge, resources and skills.

Passes problems on to others without first attempting to find a solution

Demonstrates professionalism and has high expectations of both own and others’ performance.



We will stand up for what we believe in, and go the extra distance in all our activity.

Supporting Behaviour

Conflicting behaviour

Consistently focuses on performance and steadfastly pushes oneself and others for results.

Ignores requests for assistance.

Is open to new ideas and challenges.

Usual response to others is ‘no’.

Celebrates success.

Starts things but doesn’t see things through.

Actively encourages, supports and motivates others.

Fails to effectively promote YHA.

Stands up to ‘be counted’ on points of principle.


Takes pride in doing a good job and exceeding expectations.

Quality is important to YHA

YHA New Zealand is committed to continuously improving its systems in order to assist YHA achieve its strategic aims, and in particular increasing guest satisfaction.  Click here to view the Quality Policy.