YHA Lake Tekapo on lakefront with trees and sunlight.

YHA New Zealand closes its doors after 89 years


The Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand (YHA) has been left with no option but to permanently close the doors on its 11 managed hostels on 15 December 2021.  The extended Auckland lockdown and no prospects of an international visitor market this summer has created market conditions that place YHA in an unsustainable financial position.

In late 2020, YHA completed a severe restructure in order to take the organisation through to an expected recovery period over the 2021/22 summer period, while at the same time continuing to maximise its domestic revenue.

YHA New Zealand, traditionally servicing international youth visitors, doubled its domestic guest nights over the past 12 months as it reoriented towards more domestic groups and family stays.  Unfortunately, this significant domestic growth has not been sufficient to offset the loss in international guest revenue.

YHA National Board and senior management have worked closely with YHA’s primary lender to ensure all prepaid bookings are fully refunded and staff entitlements are retained through this closure period.

“YHA staff have been incredible during extraordinary times” says General Manager Simon Cartwright, “It is an ending none of us wanted but we want to make sure we exit in a way which ensures our people are not left out of pocket.”

YHA Wellington exterior

YHA has a network of 11 hostels it manages directly; YHA Auckland International, YHA Rotorua, YHA Wellington, YHA Christchurch, YHA Lake Tekapo, YHA Aoraki Mt Cook, Wanaka, YHA Queenstown Central, YHA Queenstown Lakefront, YHA Franz Josef and YHA Te Anau. All these hostels will close on December 15.

It is important to note that all 23 individually owned and operated Associate properties will continue to operate as normal. These are YHA Ahipara Holiday Park, YHA Bay of Islands The Rock Adventure Cruise, YHA Paihia, YHA Whangarei, Whangarei Falls Holiday Park, YHA Waitomo Juno Hall, YHA Taupo Finlay Jacks, YHA Gisborne, YHA National Park Backpackers, YHA New Plymouth Sunflower Lodge, YHA Whanganui Braemar House, YHA Picton The Villa, YHA Nelson, YHA Golden Bay Annies Nirvana Lodge, YHA Westport TripInn, YHA Punakaiki Te Nikau Retreat, YHA Hokitika Birdsong Backpackers, YHA Hanmer Springs Kakapo Lodge, YHA Arthurs Pass Mountain House, YHA Springfield Smylies, YHA Kinloch Wilderness Retreat.

“This is a sad time for our staff, our members and our industry. YHA has been a cornerstone of youth travel in New Zealand for 89 years. It has evolved with the fast moving changes of the industry and lead industry thinking both domestically and among the international network. YHA was looking forward to a bright future in 2019 having just opened a new hostel in Tekapo. Unfortunately, the COVID19 pandemic has just gone on too long for us to be able to ride it out. Today is a sad day for tourism in New Zealand.” concludes Mr Cartwright.

YHA Queenstown lakefront exterior

YHA New Zealand