People bag on this place a lot. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s crowded. But one thing is for sure, is everyone knows where it is! When I got off the plane in Auckland after the 12 hour ride, after going through immigration, another officer pulled me to the side and just asked me where I was staying. I didn’t know off the top of my head (getting into that “no worries” spirit very quickly!) but I knew it was something like “Auckland Backpackers” and the officer filled in, “ACB?” and that sounded right, so I said yeah and he asked how many nights and I said 4 and that seemed like a good answer and he let me go. Easy peasy! Took the AirBus into town and the driver yelled out all the hostels at each stop, so no need to worry about maps and getting off at the right stop. I was pointed in the right direction and when I arrived told I couldn’t check in until 1pm. I wanted to shower sooo bad, but still had about 6 hours to kill. Plus, since I never bring shampoo and soap with me when I travel, I had to find a pharmacy to buy that stuff anyway, so it worked out. I finally checked in and scored my own twin room with a mini fridge and a fantastic view of the corner of Victoria and Queen Streets.
The front desk was very helpful in showing me how to use the phone cards as I wouldn’t be getting my sim card until Monday and I called my parents and we realized that the time different was only 3 hours (but I was a day ahead)! The lounge is very large and was just a great place to get my barrings and listen and eavesdrop on all the conversations around me. There are two large tv rooms, one playing sports and the other has Sky Movies on 24/7, so there is no arguing about what to watch. Around 10pm, someone from the front desk will come in and check that everyone there is actually staying at the hostel, as to weed out the riffraff. There were no problems when I was there. They also have a super helpful travel desk. I ended up living in AKL and became friends with one of the girls who worked there and she told me that their main selling item was the backpacker buses and getting kids out of town, which I thought was kind of interesting, so definitely take what they say and try to sell with a grain of salt.
Since I stayed there, they have been bought out by Base, which is a chain of hostels in NZ and Australia and I think most of the complaints are because of that. Yes, it’s a large impersonal hostel, but as a first stop after a marathon plane ride, it’s nice to have a lot of information and a central location at your finger tips. I am glad I stayed there at first, but I wouldn’t again, mainly because I know too many people in town.