Within the last week I have stayed in three different hostels, each with very unique atmospheres and accompanying unique characters. Hekerua Lodge on Waiheke Island with a family-like atmosphere; Attic Backpackers in Auckland CBD with a younger backpacker presence; and Fat Cat Travellers Community in the outskirts of Auckland with a relaxed, ecologically-conscious mentality.
Hekerua Lodge is one of only a couple budget hostels on Waiheke Island. Open shared bathrooms, a large kitchen, and big family-style tables on the balcony all promote the friendly family atmosphere here. You basically have to put effort into not starting a conversation with someone.
That was the case at least while I stayed there. I am quite shy, but was welcomed by absurd and hilarious discussions, such as what was your worst cup of tea? and the effort put into finding the perfect white plastic Christmas tree. Getting a good moon tan while bush walking in complete darkness listening to Bach. Impromptu skinny dipping while en route to an Argentinian house party. All this with friends I had met only a day or two earlier.
And these experiences weren’t with your typical backpackers. Often people think hostels are filled with only young partying travellers. This hostel was filled with every kind of partying traveller, from over 50 to just turned 18. And our group, unique and diverse as it was, was awesome.
After reluctantly leaving Waiheke Island (many people decide to stay for more unexpected weeks), I ferried over to Auckland to Attic Backpackers. Now this was a bit of a typical young backpacker feel. Many dorm rooms, small tables on the rooftop patio – the family atmosphere was initially lacking. But throw in Trivia Night and an Irish Pub, fleeting besties galore.
Attics Backpackers was also quite convenient being in Auckland, since my travel buddy and I were able to do some typical touristy things out and around. The pier for some free festivities to celebrate the Auckland Anniversary, Albert Park to hang out in the trees, Mission Bay for some beach, and climbing to the summit of Mt Eden for some city + crater (which I do not recommend doing after a big night out).
As a little retreat out of the city, we head to Fat Cat Travellers Community, an hour outside of Auckland with public transportation. Carrying my pack + groceries from hostel to bus to bus to hostel was very painful. But after crossing the train tracks and getting advice from a random friendly kiwi, we arrived.
This place is what you’d expect from a travellers’ community. Shared vegan breakfast and dinner, morning yoga classes led by a Brazilian woman, composting toilets and a bicycle-run washing machine (plus more contemporary options), vermicomposting and veggie gardens, a hammock tree, a fire pit surrounded by old vehicle seats, and a resident chicken that walks around. Add interesting travellers from around the world, this is a great place.