Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Kiwi backpackers the scourge of NZ: Boozed up, badly behaved and banned

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Kiwi backpackers are thought to be too rowdy. Photo / iStock
Kiwi backpackers are thought to be too rowdy. Photo / iStock

Badly behaved Kiwi backpackers causing havoc in hostels around the country is a common phenomenon, according to several people in the tourism industry, but most say denying people accommodation based on nationality is unfair.

Aucklander Ryan Turney, 20, had to spend a night in a tent in Picton after being told that a Blenheim backpackers hostel, Leeways Backpackers, did not accept New Zealanders.

He was looking for seasonal fruit-picking work in the area. Another hostel also told him he'd have to wait two to three days for a police check before he could stay.


Leeways Backpackers owner Christeen Lee said the policy had been in place for years and said all the backpacker owners in the area felt the same way: they were fed up with the trouble Kiwis caused while staying.

"All the backpackers [in Blenheim], we have the same blanket rule," she told the Herald.
"We don't let Kiwis stay, you've got to have an international passport."

Mrs Lee said New Zealanders had a reputation for making things difficult for accommodation providers.

"They make it disruptive and cause complications and make it difficult for the other people who stay. We have all had dealings with things things we've had to handle and we all feel the same way."

She said New Zealanders should find accommodation in share houses or flats.
"There are notices up in the supermarket all the time."

Another backpackers owner in Blenheim, who did not wish to be named, told the Herald refusing Kiwis was a trend in the town, estimating 80 per cent of backpackers do it.

Joerg Klenert, who has worked as a duty manager in backpackers in Auckland and Whitianga, said both had a no-Kiwi policy because New Zealanders were perceived as being bad guests.

READ MORE: Backpacker turned away for being Kiwi

"This is not a Blenheim-only policy," he said.

"I have always thought 'this is sad, these people are not allowed to stay in their own country when travelling', but I also thought it is better for international travellers as I have seen all too often how badly behaved many Kiwis are, especially after a few drinks.

"Having travelled around New Zealand as a backpacker, I have to agree that it is true that Kiwis often cause problems. I have, however, met some really nice ones too."

In Auckland, other backpackers said Kiwis could behave badly but none said they had a policy of turning away New Zealanders.

Leeways backpackers in Blenheim. The hostel has refused Kiwis for being causing trouble.
Leeways backpackers in Blenheim. The hostel has refused Kiwis for being causing trouble.

A staff member at Base Auckland, who asked not to be named, said such a policy was unfair.

"I've not heard of policies like that before. That's kind of discriminatory. We do have experiences with certain groups [of Kiwis], like maybe damaging our property but we have have security on hand for that."

He said he thought perhaps New Zealanders felt more comfortable in the country so were more prone to rowdy behaviour.

Ryan Turney was turned away from Leeways because he is a New Zealander and they don't accept them.
Ryan Turney was turned away from Leeways because he is a New Zealander and they don't accept them.

"They do have a tendency to be more boisterous, in my experience anyway, but it does surprise me that they have that sort of policy.

Similarly, a staff member at Ponsonby Backpackers, who asked not to be named, said New Zealanders were more likely than international guests to cause trouble but wouldn't turn anyone away on that basis.

"Any nationality can misbehave but we do get a bit of bother when we get big groups of Kiwis in for the rugby or whatever.

"You can't judge though, you've got to go with it and make a decision when people are here. It's just unfortunate if you get a bad group in."

Central Auckland's Haka Lodge manager Nikki Ramage said she would never turn anyone away for being Kiwi.

"Absolutely not. The only reason they'd be turned away is if they didn't have valid ID or a credit card to secure the booking.

"We've only been open since June and we've had no problems with guests whether they're international or New Zealanders," said Ms Ramage.

YHA New Zealand boss Mark Wells said as long as guests respected the environment, staff and other travellers, they would be allowed to stay in YHA accommodation.

"The New Zealand domestic market is a really important market for us," he said.

"We don't have any more difficulty with one nationality group than another across our networks. Our approach is to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis rather than make policy based on classifications of travellers."

Queen Street Backpackers in central Auckland also would not turn anyone away based on nationality.

Devon Snell, employee from Rotten Apple backpackers in Hastings was shocked to learn a New Zealander was turned away for being a Kiwi.

"A backpacker is a backpacker," he said.

Mr Snell said Rotten Apple promotes a friendly environment.

"If someone showed up looking a bit rough then we would investigate but we would never turn someone away based on anything else, especially their nationality."

The American national said people come to the the backpackers to have a good time so they don't get a lot of drama.

"People drink here and we have the odd case of minor damage but nothing too insane."

He said if Leeways had good reason to turn him away then "fair enough" but they shouldn't just say no kiwis.

"I just think they need to be more tactful."

Mr Snell said backpacking was all about different cultures coming together and locals were always welcome.

Napier's Stables Lodge Backpackers manager JinSoo Kwak said they do have problems with Kiwi guests but not to the point of denying them accommodation.

"We always accept New Zealand people."

However Mr Kwak said they were the most troublesome guests.

Stealing bedding, not showering, loud music, creating a mess and drunken aggression were common complaints of kiwis by international backpackers. He said in a bid to stamp out the behavior, Mr Kwak said they now ask for identification and credit card details.

Most were receptive to this policy however a number refuse and become abusive.

"New Zealanders need to become more respectful and responsible," Mr Kwak said.

Hannah, who didn't want her last name used, of Eagle's Nest Backpackers on Victoria St, Hamilton, laughed when she heard that Kiwis were being turned away by some of New Zealand's backpacker accommodation.

"That could be true but that could be any nationality."

When asked if they accepted Kiwis, she said, "of course we do".

She said the only time they would question a group of Kiwis is if it was for a stag do. In that case, they would ask them to hire all seven of their rooms out as they usually brought with them booze and strippers and kept other backpackers awake.

Motorcyclist Bob Whitmore of Great Barrier Island said he was unable to get accommodation in Tauranga while travelling around the country four years ago, despite being 70 years old at the time.

"My mate and I were touring New Zealand by motorbike and had no trouble until we we reached Tauranga. It was teeming with rain we were soaking wet and just wanted somewhere to sleep and dry our clothes but were turned away from every backpackers we tried," he said.

"I was a 70-year-old male and my mate was 60. We could only get a bed for the night [if] we had a foreign passport. Their excuse was the Kiwis caused too much trouble with the foreign fruit-pickers."

He said such policies were unfair. "I think its bloody terrible. We were desperate for somewhere to stay, soaking wet but, no, they didn't want us. Pretty hopeless isn't it?"

Most New Zealanders were welcome at Gisborne's Flying Nun, however locals sometimes caused problems, a staff member said.

"If someone wants to drop off their cousin or friend at your doorstep, that is where the problems can arise. We need to have the right to respond appropriately because we need to consider the health and safety of all the other guests."

Locals have also been an issue at East Coast Backpackers. "Normally this is from people who have nowhere else to live and have been kicked out of their house," a staff member said.

About 15 per cent of visitors to the backpackers are from New Zealand, they said, adding that people from other countries can also cause problems.

"Some will make a mess and leave without paying.

"It is a small percentage that are always going to cause problems."

The main concern at YHA Hostel in Gisborne was people trying to stay longer than two weeks as the hostel is not equipped for that, they said.

"We have seen other backpackers take up locals for long periods of time and can see there are problems."

- Additional reporting Finn Rainger of the Gisborne Herald and Hawke's Bay Today

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