Ranking the 4 major points hotels on NZ’s North Island

Outside of Best Western and Choice Hotels, New Zealand doesn’t have a ton of points options for chain hotels.

Why stay at a chain hotel though?

Loyalty status can get you free meals and upgraded rooms, and using points can make those rooms free.

Sure, you could always use bank points such as Chase UR points to book almost any hotel you want using those points, but this post is looking at four hotels you can book with hotel points.

Which hotels?

InterContinental Wellington, Hilton Auckland, Crowne Plaza Auckland, and Hilton Lake Taupo.

You might be surprised at what ended up being my least favorite of the four:

4. InterContinental Wellington

InterContinental Hotels is IHG’s luxury brand, so the hotels are usually the nicest and most expensive options the hotel conglomerate has to offer.

This was my first stay at an InterContinental.

Instead of being something like the Parks Hyatt I got the chance to stay at, it felt more along the quality lines of a …nice motel.

C’mon you spoiled millennial, really?

It might have just been the particular room I was assigned, but the room had a very lived in feel, with a wall scab where it looked like a painting had been ripped off, and a generally mild-feeling level of cleanliness and crispness.

It was still a nice hotel that I was grateful to be staying at it, but it was just the one I was most surprised by.

Pros?

Free with the yearly free night certificate that comes with the IHG credit card. Great location in downtown Wellington.

Cons?

Maybe not as nice as you might hope for, and parking is expensive at $35 NZD nightly (though weekends are much cheaper if you self-park in the public garage). Not much in the way of benefits for your elite status.

How much?

~120-300 USD, or an IHG free night certificate, or 35k IHG points.

Photos:

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3. Hilton Lake Taupo

If you’re a visitor driving between Auckland and Wellington, there’s a good chance you’ll stop at Lake Taupo along the way, kind of in the middle of the North Island.

This seemed like a conference hotel, and it had an attractive gym and pool/hot tub area.

Pros?

Very nice hotel in the relative middle of nowhere that’s free with points. Good views of Lake Taupo. Free parking. Free welcome drink at the restaurant and breakfast for Gold elite status-holders and above.

Cons?

Breakfast was disappointing, though, again, I was fully grateful for it. It seemed like there were two employees trying to do everything — check people in to the breakfast and seat them, bus tables, serve coffee, maintain the buffet, etc.

The highlight of the breakfast was the kiwi juice.

How much?

I originally booked for 29k Hilton points, then rebooked when it went down to 26k. Or ~150-250 USD.

Side note: Lake Taupo itself was more of a stopping point than a destination on my trip, but it sounds like an adventure-filled place that attracts tons of visitors.

Photos:

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2. Crowne Plaza Auckland

A block over from the Auckland Sky Tower, this hotel sits in the heart of downtown Auckland.

The upgrade to a corner room and the tasty free welcome drinks from the bar — thanks to the mid-level elite status that comes with the IHG credit card — may be swaying my opinion, but this was a very enjoyable hotel stay.

Pros?

Surprisingly affordable parking on weekends (under $10/night), central location, transparent elevator with cool city views, tasty welcome drink, room upgrades.

Cons?

Expensive parking during the week, expensive nightly points price.

How much?

I’m seeing it listed at 40k IHG points per night, or 120-270 USD.

Photos:

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1. Hilton Auckland

Getting off the bus and trudging through the 7 AM Sunday rain after a 12-hour flight to Auckland wasn’t the dreamiest intro to New Zealand, but the Hilton Auckland welcomed us — 8 hours early for check in and looking like wet rats — with open arms.

This hotel looks like a cruise ship, sitting on a pier on Auckland harbor.

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My last few weeks of Hilton Gold elite status —after recently giving up my Hilton Honors Amex card that came with it — paid off big time.

I paid 44k Hilton points for a night, but here’s the room they upgraded us to:

Hilton Harbor View.png

This upgrade maybe a benefit of visiting in wintertime.

The Gold status also gave us free access to the breakfast buffet that we found to be ethereal.

The best free breakfast I’ve ever had, with gorgeous views from the immaculate dining room, superbly friendly staff, fresh cheese and bread, and a row of hot Le Creusets filled with delights. And these tiny donuts that melt in your mouth.

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It’s possible I’m overstating it since I’m not that fancy, but we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Enough about the breakfast I guess.

The room was really nice too, immaculate, with a private balcony on the harbor.

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All in all, this was one of best hotel experiences I’ve ever had.

Pros?

Great perks for elite status: room upgrades, two free drinks from the bar per night, free breakfast. Great location only a few minutes’ walk to lots of harbor restaurants and the ferry terminal. Extremely friendly, professional staff.

Cons?

Overnight parking is pricy at ~35 USD per night, though I didn’t have a car, and there may be decent affordable alternatives. Getting to the hotel from the airport isn’t cheap either, with ~35 USD Uber rides or a ~15 USD/person bus ride that drops you off about a half mile from the hotel.

How much?

I paid 44k Hilton points/night, though it looks to price at ~60k in the summer months. Or ~150-250 USD/night in cash.

Photos:

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Agree/disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by!

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