Local Escapes

The Most Weird And Wonderful Places To Stay In New Zealand

By Urban List Writers

The interior of the yellow submarine shows cool themed furniture.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but New Zealand is a stunning specimen of a country. It’s an adventure haven, a romantic wonderland, and an all-round 10/10 vacay spot. Our accom is pretty snazzy, too—from relaxing retreats and honeymoon hotspots to glamping getaways and luxury lodges, it’s not hard to find impressive digs.

Occasionally though, you want something a little bit different...a little bit quirkier. We’re talking the weird and the wonderful. These places offer a unique experience—one you’ll probably never forget. The memory of sleeping in a yellow submarine ain’t going to fade anytime soon. Here are the best weird and wonderful places to stay around New Zealand.

A Boot

Nelson | 2 guests

Image credit: The Boot | Airbnb

Now this is freakin’ cool. You and your boo (only room for two) can spend the night snuggling up in a boot. Yep, the shoe variety. Situated in the Tasman region, The Boot Fairytale Accommodation functions as a fully equipped stand-alone cottage complete with an open fire, spiral staircase and a Juliet balcony. Farewell the day with a platter and vino in your private courtyard, have a glorious snooze then wake up to breakfast delivered to your door. A fairytale indeed.

A Treehouse

Kaikoura | 2-4 guests

Someone gazes out at the view with mountains behind from a treehouse above the trees.Image credit: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses | Facebook

Hands up who wants to stay in a treehouse? Let your childhood dreams come to life at Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses in beautiful Kaikoura. Set 10 metres above the ground surrounded by native bush, the treehouses feature a fireplace, mini-bar (sundowner G&Ts, anyone?) and a jacuzzi. No joke, this is a slice of paradise.

A Glass Pod Under The Stars

Kahutara, Manakau And Greystone | 2 guests

The Greystone PurePod under myriad stars.Image credit: Greystone PurePod | Website

Remember when we spilt the beans on these secret magical pods? It’s time you treated yo’self to a night in one. PurePods offer a total immersion experience aka, no TV and no WiFi, just you, a loved one and the sparkly star-filled sky.

The pods are made entirely of glass for epic 360-degree views but don’t worry, they’re plonked in the middle of nowhere (KahutaraManakau and Greystone) so no chance of someone catching you in the nuddy. There’s even a kitchen, a flushing toilet and a lovely, warm shower.

A Glamping Oasis

Ben Lomond | 4 guests 

Someone gazes at the view outside a geodesic dome.Image credit: Seffers Dome | Airbnb

Whilst we agree a good old Kiwi camping trip never goes amiss... we also think, screw it, why bother with your own tent when you can roll on up to Seffers Dome in Ben Lomond and stay in Queenstown’s first and only geodesic dome?

Kitted out with absolutely everything you could ever need from a hot shower to a flushing toilet, solar power and a gas hob this hidden gem is worth finding. We also just love the fact that there’s no WiFi or reception, allowing you to truly switch off from the outside world. 

A Hobbit House, War Plane, Navy Boat Or The Steam Train

Waitomo | 2-6 guests

A war plane with a hobbit house in the background.Image credit: Woodlyn Park Motel | Booking .com

We know what you’re thinking. What do these four things have in common? They’re all part of the award-winning Woodlyn Park Motel, a nifty two-minute drive from the Waitomo Caves. LOTR fans will be able to snooze in a hobbit hole while aviation nuts can fly off to dreamland in a Bristol Freighter plane, one of the last allied jets to be flown into Vietnam.

Prefer the motion of the ocean? The World War 2 Waitanic ship was recovered from Australia and refurbished into five cosy units. Last but not least is the 1918 railway carriage set amongst 10 acres of pristine New Zealand nature.

A Castle

Dunedin | 2-4 guests

A stately red room at Lanarch Lodge in Dunedin.Image credit: Larnach Lodge And Stables | Booking .com

Up the accommodation ante by staying in the grounds of Larnach Castle—which is New Zealand's only castle. Whether you choose to stay in the cosy stables or upgrade your experience for a stay in the lodge, you'll be blown away by the history of the Larnach Lodge & Stable Stay.

After breakfast in the stables, take advantage of the complimentary access to the castle for guests and enjoy a tour of the castle gardens like the genteel people you are.

A Yellow Submarine

Marton | 4 guests

Accomodation inside a yellow submarine, one of the most weird and wonderful places to stay in New Zealand. Image credit: Yellow Submarine | Airbnb

Yep, this is not a drill, if you’ve always wanted to be able to sing “We all live in a yellow submarine” and mean it, the time has come. Set in a forest, the yellow submarine may look small from the outside but it’s packed full of atmosphere—venture inside and you’ll discover a Victorian steampunk lounge and galley, a control bridge, U Boat sleeping quarters and a Beatles-themed bathroom.

We reckon this spot takes the cake for the weirdest and most wonderful accommodation in New Zealand not least because in a commitment to providing you with an authentic experience, there’s no WiFi here (of course, there isn’t at the bottom of the sea), and we don’t think you’ll mind in the slightest. 

A Perfectly Formed Fortress 

Wellington | 2 guests 

A stone castle you can stay in, and one of the most weird and wonderful accomodations in New Zealand. Image credit: The Keep | Airbnb

For your very own fort with a pretty spiffy ocean view, book into The Keep. It’s a rustic natural timber aesthetic housed in sturdy castle rock. Pop across the road to catch a fish for dinner, then put the kitchen to good use.

There’s an ensuite and separate toilet and—the jewels in the crown—a rooftop picnic table and spa bath to relax in. Speaking of, there’s no WiFi here so you can enjoy the ultimate bliss, notification-free. 

A Yurt

Greytown | 2 guests 

The interior of a boujee yurt, one of the best luxe, weird and wonderful accommodations in New Zealand. Image credit: Unique Urban Yurt | Airbnb

Another of the best weird and wonderful places to stay in New Zealand is this luxe glamping-style yurt in Greytown. Book in here to feel transported away from your day-to-day life in this child-free zone.

The yurt sits in a private garden and includes access to a separate studio generously decked out with a kitchen, dining area and additional bathroom. Start your day with a mission for freshly baked croissants, then robe up, put the coffee on and ease into your morning.

A Riverside Geodesic Dome

Taranaki | 2 guests 

The interior of a lovely looking dome showing a bed and chairs.Image credit: River Belle Glamping | Airbnb

Speaking of geodesic domes, if you’ve always wanted to stay in a snow globe (except, warm) then River Belle Glamping could be a bit of you. Set on a working farm near the Mangaoraka River, a short drive from central New Plymouth, this is a romantic winter getaway like no other.

Amenities-wise, everything you need is provided from the kitchen and bathroom to a BBQ. Warm up in the outdoor bath, cook s’mores over the brazier or huddle up in the dome with its in-built fire and electric blankets. Cosy. 

An Historic Hotel

Cardrona | 2-6 guests

Cadrona Hotel, one of the best weird and wonderful places to stay in New Zealand. Image credit: Cardrona Hotel | Booking .com

As one of New Zealand’s oldest historic hotels and most photographed buildings, you will most likely recognise the facade of this icon from your social media feed.

Situated on the spectacular Crown Range, at the mid-point between Queenstown and Wānaka, the Cardrona Hotel oozes charming gold mining history from every inch of its weatherboard bones (in fact, it’s one of only two remaining buildings from the era) yet has all the modern comforts to make your stay relaxing.

With an atmosphere like no other and an epic beer garden on-site, this slice of Kiwi history is a must-visit whether you’re staying in town or passing through. 

A Blue Barn

Martinborough | 2 guests 

A blue barn in a field, one of the best weird and wonderful places to stay in New Zealand. Image credit: Lismore Barn | Airbnb

Once a storage facility for grape nets, Lismore Barn has been spun into a cosy abode overlooking a vineyard. Plumped for comfort—including a clawfoot bath with a view of the vines—this is the kind of place that zaps any stress, leaving you free to enjoy a weekend away, exploring the surrounding area on foot or bicycle, and rounding up your day with a sundowner.

As for amenities, you’ll have access to a washing machine and dryer, Netflix, a Bluetooth speaker, an EV charger for electric cars, AC and a fully-equipped kitchen.

A Silo

Christchurch | 2-4 guests

A row of silos that make for weird and wonderful accomodation. Image credit: SiloStay | Booking .com

Ah, classic Kiwi ingenuity, you’ve done it again. The SiloStay team in Little River near Christchurch have transformed metal grain storage silos into top-notch accommodation. If you’re planning on doing the Little River Rail Trail, you’re well and truly sussed.

Whip up a feast in the custom-fitted kitchenette before resting your weary head or settling in for a movie night. There are even specially designed hanging racks for your bikes.

A Lighthouse

Wellington | 2 guests

Weird And Wonderful Places To Stay Around New ZealandImage credit: Island Bay Lighthouse | Airbnb

There’s nothing quite like falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves and there’s no better place to do that than in a lighthouse. A sweet, short ride from Wellington CBD, the Island Bay lighthouse is decked out with a kitchen, bedroom and cosy nook on the top floor where you can soak up the amazing views. Weekend escape? We think yes.

A Jailhouse

Christchurch | 1+ guests

The interior of the Jailhouse accommodation in Christchurch.Image credit: Jailhouse Hostel | Booking .com

While we hope you haven't already spent a night in actual cells, Christchurch’s Jailhouse Hostel is a must if you’re into wacky accommodation. Once a women’s prison and a military camp, the building has more than 140 years of history within its walls but is now home to backpackers’ dorms, twin rooms, double rooms and family rooms as well as a TV lounge and historical display rooms for you history buffs.

The Flying Fox

Whanganui | 1-8+ Guests

Weird And Wonderful Places To Stay Around New ZealandImage credit: The Flying Fox | Website

This ain’t no standard glamping, folks. Set on the tranquil Whanganui River is The Flying Fox, a range of unique accommodation that will have you unwinding from city life in no time. Choose between the Gypsy Cart, the Blackberry Patch or the River Boat Cottage, complete with home-cooked meals and a hefty dose of Mother Nature. The highlight? Arriving in your private aerial cable car.

A Safari Tent

Lake Rotomā | 4 guests 

An adorable cottage in the forest, one of the most wonderful best places to stay in New Zealand. Image credit: Twisted Twig Safari Tent Retreat | Airbnb

For a glamping experience that’d fit right into a Wes Anderson film, Twisted Twig Safari Tent Retreat won’t disappoint. The private campsite is in a bush area on a working dairy farm but you’d barely believe it—this spot feels like its own world.

Off-grid and solar-powered, the tent has two bedrooms—each with its own queen bed—a well-equipped kitchenette, games, an outdoor shower and twin outdoor baths to relax in. A huge amount of effort has been put into getting every detail just right, and you’re sure to enjoy every second of your stay here. 

Fancy a spot of luxury? Check out New Zealand's best retreats.

Main image credit: Yellow Submarine | Airbnb 

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