This quirky selection of Unique Places to Stay in New Zealand takes you from the beautiful Bay of Islands to the fascinating Waitomo Caves to the mysterious Whanganui River in the North Island. Then you’re heading south to Kaikoura and the whales and on to steampunk central Oamaru. Lots of weird and wonderful hotels to amaze you. Let’s Go!
Gypsy Caravans – Glamping – Boathouse – Ship – Hobbit House – Train – Eco Retreat – Renovated – School House – Tree Houses
What’s Coming Up?
- Pagoda Lodge, Kerikeri
- Woodlyn Park, Waitomo
- The Flying Fox, Whanganui River
- The Little Red School House B&B, Oamaru
- Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses
You might like to also read these New Zealand Posts: 4 Baches You’ll Love in the South Island or SiloStay in Banks Peninsula or Converted Clydesdale Stables, Container House and more here.
Pagoda Lodge, Kerikeri
Best for: Lots of Quirky options, Glamping, Gypsy Caravans
Set in the beautiful Bay of Islands Pagoda Lodge is a laid back oasis with an amazing selection of quirky and affordable accommodation. Located next to the Hongi Hika Recreation Reserve Pagoda is nestled in beautifully-kept gardens by a lovely river. So what’s on offer?
Fabulous Choice of Accommodation:
- Gypsy Caravans – Queen bed and amazing water views. Insulated and exquisitely decorated for romantics! Includes coffee and tea making utilities and fridge. Shared facilities are nearby. For just a bit extra you have use of the outdoor clawfoot bath so you can bathe under the stars!
- Pagoda Lodge – this Historic 1930’s Lodge was built by the original owner to reflect his love of ancient China. Furnished in a blend of Pacific and Chinese style. Choose a one or two-bedroom apartment.
- Glamping Safari Tents – set on wooden decks with either river or garden views. Couple tents with two rooms: bedroom with double bed and lounge or family tents with three rooms: lounge and two bedrooms. Everything is included in your tent – furniture, linen, towels, power and lighting, tea and coffee making facilities. Nearby is the shared kitchen (crockery, cutlery) and bathrooms with all you need. Just bring a torch!
- Boat Shed – ‘ships ahoy’ in this 4-bed renovated boat shed with lots of creative nautical themes and views down the river. Queen bed and two singles. Shared facilities.
More Unique Acccommodation in New Zealand @ Pagoda Lodge
- Glamping Bus – fun for everyone on this fully renovated bus. Beds for 4 and very affordable. Shared facilities.
The Wheel House – a renovated boat cabin from an historic steam boat, The Minerva! The wood has been beautiful sweet smelling Japanese cedar. Beds for up to 3 people but more comfy for 2. Shared facilities.
The Silver Ferns Caravan – retro converted caravan with double bed and one child-size single bed. Deck with river views. Shared facilities.
The Pear Tree House – tiny little tree house on an extended deck for relaxing and listening to native bird song. Probably not suitable for anyone over 180cm. Shared facilities.
Jade Cottage – All beautifully presented as a romantic retreat for two. Looks out over the Hongi Hika Pa site, the river and Kerikeri inlet. Has own kitchen and bathrooms.
Take a Tour of Pagoda:
The Lodge has a big river-view terrace for everyone to enjoy. Feeling energetic? You can hire kayaks from the front desk and paddle to the Stone Store or walk the bush track to a waterfall and local cafe. On-site: BBQ and free parking. The friendly front desk can organise airport transfers, Bay of Island cruises and yacht charters.
Hot Tip: 2 night minimum stay. Over December and January 2-3 night min stay.
Pagoda Lodge is a serene and idyllic destination with a fabulous collection of unique accommodation. Everyone loves this little slice of heaven in Kerikeri!
Woodlyn Park Motel, Waitomo
Best For: Hobbit House, Titanic Ship, Express Train, Plane. Waitomo Caves. $$
Calling all Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans! Woodlyn Park’s motto is ‘sleep in the shire’ and this quirky motel truly offers an imaginative selection.
It’s time to feel like a kid again…you can choose from a Hobbit House, the ‘Waitanic’ Ship, the Bristol Freightor Plane or the Waitanic Express Train. Don’t expect 5 star – more like 2 to 3 stars but it’s a fun stay. Have a walk around the complex and eat at the Waitomo Caves Village. Huhu Restaurant is very popular.
The amazing Waitomo Caves are only a few minutes drive down the road. Are you up for some action? Then take one of the blackwater rafting tours of the caves.
Take a Tour of Woodlyn Park:
Woodlyn Park is a fun place to stay for a weird and wonderful kiwi experience.
The Flying Fox – Eco-friendly accommodation on the Whanganui River. $$
Best for: Canoe & Stay Option, Glamping, Gypsy Cart
A truly quirky and amazing stay on the forested banks of the beautiful Whanganui River. The only way to get over the river is by water taxi or the very cool flying fox (aka an aerial cableway). Choose glamping, camping, the gypsy cart. Or one of the hand-built quaint cottages, like the James K, named after writer James K Baxter who spent time down the Whanganui River. Need to relax? Have a peaceful soak in one of the bush baths!
Popular with weekenders, walkers, cyclists and canoeists. The Flying Fox is halfway between Pipiriki and Whanganui – see map. There’s walking tracks nearby, e.g. Atene Skyline Track, The Mountain to Sea Cycle Trail and Te Araroa Walkway. Although you’re not far from Whanganui Township you feel deep in remote forest. Want some adventure on the river?
Drone’s View of The Flying Fox
Flying Fox & Canoe Adventure: A highlight is choosing one of the accommodation and canoe adventures. Very affordable prices too. The two-night adventure includes the flying fox over the river, 2 nights in one of the cottages or gypsy cart, breakfast and packed lunch and a thrilling canoe trip on the river.
The Flying Fox is an enchanting rustic stay on the banks of the atmospheric Whanganui River. A popular stop for adventurous travellers, romantic weekends and peaceful retreats. Click here to book on their website.
Unique Places to Stay in New Zealand – South Island
The Little Red School House Bed and Breakfast, Five Forks, Oamaru
Best for: Country Retreat, Friendly Chickens, Quirky Stay, Breakfast. Near Oamaru $$
This cute little school house historically dates back to 1920 but is now a very comfortable holiday home hidden away in beautiful countryside in Five Forks, 20 minutes from Oamaru.
Perfect for two guests. Relax and read, use the free WIFI or take a walk along the walking tracks and in summer take a dip in the nearby waterhole. Interested in farming? The B&B is set on a 4th generation working sheep and beef farm. FYI: let the owners know in advance if you would like a tour of the farm and a chance to see farm life up close.
For enthusiastic bike riders the farm has a series of roads and tracks popular for bike riding. If you’re completing the amazing Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail then the owners can also pick you up from the Duntroon to Oamaru part of the trail. The Alps to Ocean cycle trail starts at Mount Cook and travels by lakes, rivers, and bush until you finish in Victorian Oamaru on the coast. For South Island bike and mountain bike tours check here for the options with Viator.
The Little Red School House B&B is ideally situated in the country for a peaceful farmstay but also close to lots of adventurous activities.
Things to do in Oamaru and around Duntroon:
- The Kurow Estate Winery, River-T Estate Wines and Ostler Wines are all inland from Five Forks. Their cellar doors are open for tasting of Otago’s aromatic white wines, boutique wines, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.
- For geology buffs the Vanished World Fossil and Geology Centre is in Duntroon. They also have a self-guided trail map of local geological and fossil sites.
- Blue Penguin Colony – the penguins arrive home in the evening so viewings begin at 5.45pm. Your entry charge pays for conservation efforts.
- Steampunk HQ Museum – fashion and design inspired by a combo of sci-fi and 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery.
- Oamaru’s beautiful Victorian Precinct – luckily no one had the money to pull down these beautiful buildings. So you can now admire this stunning architecture from a bygone era when Oamaru prospered.
- Moeraki Boulders – strangely shaped massive round rocks on the beach – definitely in the weird category.
- Whitestone City – hands-on vintage museum. Take your pic on the penny farthing!
- Totara Estate – learn about New Zealand farming
- The New Zealand Whisky Company – as the name says for whisky lovers! Quite expensive but the hot toddy is recommended in winter.
- Grainstore Gallery – a quirky gallery full of paintings, old prints, objet d’art, truly weird and wonderful! They also put on musical events in the evenings. FYI: the gallery is upstairs.
Intrepid Trips in New Zealand – amazing ‘out of the box’ adventures! For an adventure how about 8 days of cycling the South Island? Start in Queenstown then follow the Central Otago Rail Trail through old gold mining towns. If you’re not fit now you will be! Click here for more info from Intrepid.
Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses, near Kaikoura
Best for: Views, Luxury 5 Star Tree Houses. Near Kaikoura $$$$
A stay in one of the Hapuku luxury tree houses is an incredible experience. You’re 10 metres up in the treeline! Surrounded by an olive grove and deer farm, with views to the mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, these boutique tree houses are a must-do!
Hapuku Lodges is only 16 minutes north of Kaikoura, a charming coastal town with abundant wildlife nearby and popular for whale watching, diving, snorkelling and swimming with dolphins and seals.
The designer accommodation at Hapuku has a rustic boutique style with upmarket furnishings and attention to detail. Each tree house includes a fireplace, spa bath, rain shower, free WIFI and super comfy bedding. On your arrival you’ll be greeted with a complementary bottle of wine and cookies. Complementary soft drinks and beer in the fridge for your stay.
Borrow one of the bikes and explore the countryside, swim in the onsite pool or soak in the hot tub. Hapuka Tree Houses aren’t cheap but they’re glorious!
Happy Travelling! I hope you’ve enjoyed this eclectic mix of unique places to stay in New Zealand. If you need any more information or want to join the conversation please share in the comments section below. Alisa
Read about more quirky New Zealand accommodation here.