Leeways Backpackers is situated in the heart of the Marlborough wine region in the town of Blenheim. The region gets the most sunny days per year in all of New Zealand, making ideal conditions for agriculture. Leeways is one of only a handful of hostels in this area, and provides an economical option for short or long-term visitors. This is very much a working hostel, and you'll find most of the residents are either working in the vineyards or fruit orchards.
The hostel is easy to find and clearly marked on the corner of Lansdowne Street. There's ample off-street parking available. While there is no public bus service in Blenheim, the town centre is only a short walk away down Hutcheson Street. There are two restaurants just down the street from the hostel -- a decent Italian restaurant and a pub serving the usual bar food. If you're going to visit the vineyards or work in one, you'll need a car or a sturdy set of cycling legs, as the town is somewhat sprawling.
Rooms and Bathrooms
Each of the rooms is assigned a different sea creature (dolphin, conch, oyster), though none have locks. Most of the rooms are on the second floor, and it can get a bit stuffy in the heat of the day. The dorms have two dresser units to store your belongings and a mirror. The beds are metal bunks and fairly sturdy. The sheets are crisp, clean, and in good condition.
There is a separate toilet on the second floor, with the showers on ground level. The showers are pretty basic. No stalls or anything to change in, and the curtain across the opening is about all the privacy you get. Water pressure is good and even at the end of the shower line there's still hot water.
There are a few common areas around to hang out. The kitchen is good sized and well equipped with seating. There's a TV lounge with a large screen TV and fireplace. Out front there's a comfortable porch with furniture, though they request you not linger out there too late out of consideration for the bedrooms behind. There's also the "party shed" out back with a ping pong table and separate refrigerator. This is clearly the party room, and word on the street is that there can be some good ones during the summer season.
Most of the residents are here long term to work and save some money to fund their further travels. Pippa, the lovely lady who runs Leeways, is happy to help you find work if that's what you're after. The work is hard, but readily available, usually picking cherries or helping tend the grapevines. The residents are fairly friendly, but those there for the long haul tend to stay in their own circle.
If you need a cheap, basic place to stay during your visit to wine country, Leeways is a solid choice. The staff are very friendly and go out of their way to ask about your day and make sure you have what you need. Internet is available (for a price) and you can also hire a bike right at the hostel. Coin-operated laundry is out back in the shed. Once a week the crew makes a supermarket run so you can stock up on supplies easily.