End of an era: YHA Mount Cook Village will close with the eleven YHA New Zealand inns. Photo / Getty Images, Craig Pershouse
The New Zealand Youth Hostels Association (YHA) will close its eleven hostels on December 15, after 89 years in the tourist industry.
The New Zealand branch of Hostelling International said it had “no choice but to close the doors for good”.
With a significant shift towards domestic budget travelers and family groups, the company was able to double its domestic overnight stays during the pandemic. However, the YHA National Council said that was not enough to make up for the loss of international backpackers for nearly two years.
After 19 months of severe restructuring and facing the prospect of another summer without international tourists, the AJ will not reopen in 2022.
“The staff at YHA have been amazing for amazing times,” said Managing Director Simon Cartwright.
Affected staff and customers have been informed of the closure of all remaining hostels.
The closure comes the day before the Auckland travel border is lifted.
This closure will only affect hostels managed directly by YHA, with 23 partner hostels continuing to operate independently.
Hostels scheduled to close are in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Aoraki Mt Cook, Wanaka, Queenstown Central, Queenstown Lakefront, Franz Josef and Te Anau.
The cornerstone of New Zealand tourism 90 years later
Since the opening of the first New Zealand hostels in Canterbury in 1932, New Zealand has become a key location for the global charity Hostelling.
In 2019, YHA was New Zealand’s largest backpacker accommodation network with over 30 hostels across the country. The most recent of which was the Lake Tekapo YHA.
However, this has been severely strained by the restructuring of the pandemic for a smaller domestic market.
“These are sad times for our staff, our members and our industry. YHA has been the lifeblood of youth travel to New Zealand for 89 years,” said Cartwright.
“Unfortunately, the Covid 19 pandemic has lasted too long for us to overcome. Today is a sad day for tourism in New Zealand.”