About Us

Our mission: To deliver quality budget accommodation and travel experiences which enrich people’s understanding of each other, the environment, and New Zealand.

How it all began

German school teacher, Richard Schirrmann, founded the first network of youth hostels in Germany in 1909. His aim was 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.

Even right back in 1932, the Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand (YHA New Zealand) made it their mission to motivate and inspire young people from all over the country – and the world – to get out and explore New Zealand.

The first hostels were humble farmers’ cottages for rural travellers. Today, because of YHA’s longstanding tradition of tireless effort from volunteers and staff, YHA has built an internationally recognized network of quality backpacker accommodation. We welcome travellers of all ages from around the world to experience the unique culture and environment of our country.

YHA today

The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand hosts over ¼ million guests each year. We endeavour to help our guests understand the true beauty of New Zealand, whilst inspiring them to explore more of what the country has on offer. Today, YHA is much more than affordable bunk beds; we're a great quality backpacker hostel network in New Zealand’s best locations!

YHA New Zealand is a registered charitable organisation and a member-based incorporated society. We're committed to promoting knowledge and understanding of other cultures and NZ, brought about through social interaction as guests spend time together 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.

Today YHA New Zealand manages 13 hostels, and has Associate partner agreements with 25 independently owned hostels. There are approximately 220 employees in the organisation. We continue to develop our hostel network in support of our charitable objects.

YHA and 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. This means when you join YHA, you don't just become a New Zealand member - you get the benefits associated with more than 90 Youth Hostels Associations in over 80 countries, operating 4,000+ hostels!

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YHA and Quality

For YHA New Zealand, quality means delivering service and facilities at a consistently high standard that meets and ideally exceeds the expectations of our customers and colleagues.

To achieve this we employ comprehensive quality management systems and develop learning tools so everyone at YHA grows their knowledge and skills to improve our customer experience.
We use New Zealand’s Qualmark and Hostelling International’s Quality assessment programmes to independently audit our systems and we review guests feedback on a daily basis.

Quality is not a tagline or an empty promise, it defines who we are and what we do. To see a copy of our quality policy, please email info@yha.co.nz.

Learn more about:

YHA Missions and Values
Our Mission & Values
YHA Queenstown Lakefront
Hostelling International
YHA Queenstown Lakefront interior
Managed and Associate Hostels