Whangarei Falls Backpackers, a BBH hostel, is located far from the city center, but close to several nice walks. It is run by Graham and Alison, who are two fantastic, helpful hosts. They also offer 50 MB of free Wi-Fi upon check-in.
This hostel is within five minutes of Whangarei Falls and the beginning of several walks. There are a few shops nearby, but it is about an hour-and-a-half walk to the city centre. The hostel owners are happy to pick you up and drop you off for your bus with some advance notice. It is possible to take the city bus at least partway, but it does not run on Sundays. Parking is readily available.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The dorm room is one room with ten beds split into two small, off-shoot rooms of two bunks, and one set of bunks in the middle. The smaller rooms of four are covered by a curtain. There are no in-room lockers, and room access is by key code only. The beds are comfortable, although linen is not included (but you can hire some). There is a fridge and freezer in the room and a small table with chairs. The room is comfortable enough, but there are no plugs by the beds -- only around the table and fridge -- and the curtains don't provide the kind of privacy you would like with this sort of setup.
The showers have good heat and good water pressure. There is space to change in the stall and towel racks and hooks on the wall for your clothes as well as a soap dish in the shower. The only problem is that to get to the bathrooms and showers, you have to walk a bit of a distance outside. Granted, it isn't more than a two-minute walk, but if it's 3 a.m., it definitely isn't ideal.
Right next to the dorm is a large area with a canopy over it with several wooden benches and tables as well as a barbecue. Right next to it, you will find the pool and the spa pool, both of which are a little on the small side, but are a good temperature. Assuming the weather is good, these are really nice places to enjoy some company along with the sunshine.
The inside common area is split into two parts. When you first walk in, you will see a wall of books and some couches and armchairs. On the other side of the wall is the TV and some seating. There is also a computer available here for internet access.
To get to the kitchen you will have to walk outside, which can be a bit of a pain in cold weather or rain, but otherwise isn't much of an inconvenience. It's well stocked and spacious and kept very clean for a hostel kitchen. The setup does make it feel pretty cramped, but there is usually room for everyone to cook when necessary.
Since the backpackers' unit is small and isolated from the rest of the campsites, it's easy to start conversations with one another. You'll find friendly backpackers and a social atmosphere, but since it's so isolated, it's unlikely that there would be any partying going on.
If you don't have a car and are planning on going into town, this is an incredibly inconvenient hostel. But if you don't mind a walk (or you have no interest in the city) this is a great, relaxed place to stay with friendly people and good hosts.