About Us

How it all began

German school teacher, Richard Schirrmann, founded the first network of youth hostels in Germany in 1909 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 I the idea of hostelling spread to other countries and Cora Wilding (pictured) founded the first Southern Hemisphere hostel in Canterbury, New Zealand in 1932.

Since 1932, the Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand’s (YHA New Zealand) founding mission has been to motivate and inspire young people from all over the country – and the world – to get out and explore New Zealand. Since those early days, YHA’s mission has grown to encompass people of all ages.

The first hostels were humble farmers’ cottages for rural travellers and today, because of YHA’s longstanding tradition of tireless effort from volunteer and staff, YHA have built an internationally recognized network of quality backpacker accommodation that welcomes travellers from around the world and showcases the unique culture and environment of our country.

YHA today

The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand hosts over ¼ million guests each year and endeavours to ensure that those guests understand the true beauty of New Zealand whilst inspiring them to explore more of what the country has on offer. Today, YHA is more than cheap bunk beds and more than a great backpacker hostel network in New Zealand’s best locations.

YHA scenic Wanaka 2013

YHA New Zealand is a registered charitable organisation, member-based incorporated society committed to promoting knowledge and understanding through social interaction as guests mix with other cultures in our hostels’ comfortable lounges, gardens, barbecue areas and hang-out rooms. YHA are also committed advocates of environmental sustainability and sustainable practices and actively educate guests and members about the environment. YHA have received many awards and accolades for this over the years.

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 the organisation works.

Today YHA New Zealand manages 17 hostels, and has Associate partner agreements with 28 independently owned hostels. There are approximately 220 employees in the organisation.

YHA's Mission and Values

YHA's Mission is to deliver quality budget accommodation and travel experiences which enrich people's understanding of each other, the environment and New Zealand. YHA's Mission and Values are grounded in its charitable objects.

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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.


Be inspired to explore with YHA

Social media and video these days, unknown tools in 1932, make it much easier for YHA to fulfill our mission to inspire people to travel. Watch our motivating video that celebrates that enthusiasm to explore New Zealand. 


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.