A train carriage, a treehouse, and a tiny home. These are just a few of the quirky stays offered in New Zealand. These types of stays often give you a better taste of the country’s nature and are experiences within themselves, so you have little reason to leave.
Fortunately, New Zealand is constantly adding to its roster of quirky stays. Ahead, we round up 12 of them across North Island and South Island, from a castle stay to an overnight in an oversized boot. Why stay in a regular ol’ hotel when you can overnight in one of these unique accommodations across New Zealand instead?
Kokako Retreat, Bay of Plenty
Kokako Retreat’s three curved tiny homes were designed to emulate safari escapes. They are New Zealand’s first rounded tiny homes. These homes are a 35-minute drive from Rotorua and 40 minutes from Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.
Inside each there’s the bedroom hut, the kitchen and bathroom hut in the middle, and finally, the lounge hut. The huts sit on a hill overlooking native forest and farmland, rich with wildlife.
Ohakune Train Stay, Manawatū-Whanganui
This red and green train carriage in Whanganui, converted into Ohakune Train Stay, has to be one of the most unique accommodations in New Zealand. It consists of a master bedroom, a railway-style bunk room, and a living area with a kitchenette.
The carriage was originally built in 1939 at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops as a non-smoking, second-class car. In its time in operation, it was used on the Auckland to Wellington express trains for about 40 years, and served in total for more than 60 years.
Jester House, Nelson Tasman
The Boot is a stand-alone cottage, shaped like, as its name suggests, a boot. Downstairs in the lounge, you’ll find a couch and fireplace. There, a kitchenette has tea and coffee-making appliances and a minibar, while a tiled bathroom has a shower.
Up a spiral staircase, you’ll find a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, dark curtains for late day rises, and a Juliet balcony with views into a garden-surrounded courtyard and pond. Soak up the sun in the courtyard during the day and dine there al fresco in the evening.
Naumi Studio Hotel, Wellington
Naumi Studio Hotel is housed in a heritage building in the Cuba Street precinct in Wellington. Enter on Dunlop Street and step into a sensory wonderland with a lounge, parlour, and lobby.
The spaces all reflect the love story of Lady Naumi, the original custodian of the Naumi Hotel. Her portrait is hung at the reception, while works from New Zealand artists and designers are displayed throughout. The hotel also features rugs created by artist Karl Maughan, plus some floral sculpture by Angus Muir Designs.
Rainforest Retreat, West Coast
Rainforest Retreat in Franz Josef Village on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island blends luxury accommodation with environmental awareness. It’s surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area filled with local fauna. Travellers will appreciate the hotel’s attention to detail, which starts with attentive personal service on arrival and continues throughout every part of your stay. The staff can also help you plan day trips to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
The Lindis, Canterbury
The pods at The Lindis in the Ahuriri Valley feature double-glazed mirrored glass walls on three sides and an efficient 18m² footprint. While they let guests experience the surrounding nature, they’re also heated and equipped with king-size beds, fine linen and a bathtub. Watch the sunset from the pods’ outdoor sitting area.
Hapuku Tree Houses, Kaikōura
Kaikōura is a spot where coast meets mountains, and the Hapuku Tree Houses within it sit more than 10 metres above ground in a canopy of native Kanuka grove. The tree houses were designed to complement the natural environment, serving as bedrooms in the sky. Their large windows bring the tree canopies into the bedroom and provide views of Kaikōura’s mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Take it all in while soaking in a bath.
SiloStay, Ōtautahi Christchurch
At SiloStay at Little River, just 50 minutes from Christchurch city, grain silos have been converted into modern apartments. On the upper level of the silo, you’ll find a balcony and, in the ceiling, a hatch that lifts off to make way for a view of the sky. Lie in bed gazing at the stars, or if you catch the weather at the right time, watch raindrops or snowflakes settle on the glass above.
Te Wepu, Akaroa
Te Wepu is a glamping experience dotted through working farmland and bush, on the Banks Peninsula, a 75-minute drive from Christchurch. The accommodation has a sustainability focus and is carbon-positive as of 2023. Choose from one of three sleeping pod sites, each with two pods – a sleeping pod that fits two and a utility pod. Each site also has a wood-fired hot tub, fire pit, and a BBQ. The pod sites are out of sight and sound from each other, ensuring utmost privacy.
Cross Hill Geo Domes, Central Otago
The Cross Hill Geo Domes in Lake Hāwea, near Wanaka, were built by renowned dome designers, Pacific Domes, to reinforce guests’ connection to nature. The attached and detached nature of the design, in conjunction with the mountainside setting and skyline views, intentionally grounds every guest in their surroundings.
Casa Nova House, Central Otago
The Casa Nova House is a 19-century stone home that has since been turned into a high-end bed and breakfast. The stay is heritage-listed and infused with whimsical decor and art that offsets the building’s traditional aesthetic. Sleep in one of three guest rooms, all with sea views, and wake to a European-style breakfast in the property’s Burns Sitting Room.
Larnach Castle, Ōtepoti Dunedin
Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle. Built in 1871, by William Larnach, a merchant banker and politician, the castle was restored by the Barker family, who has owned it since 1967. Guests staying in the accommodation can get a glimpse into what life was like for wealthy Victorians in Larnach’s times, and learn about his scandals.
The castle has gardens and dining experiences, and it’s also a great place to base yourself when exploring Dunedin and the rest of the Otago Peninsula.