I am a bit bewildered as to the previous reviews on Tripadvisor for this hostel. I had a completely different experience, which may be due to change of management, since the other reviews are quite old, and I stayed there in March 2010.
I have been to Te Anau multiple times, and always stayed in a hostel in town. Since Te Anau is the last stop en route to Milford Sound that offers accommodation and restaurants, prices are steeper than elsewhere. That’s why we decided to stay a little outside of town, and the idea of a hostel on a farm seemed very intriguing.
Barnyard Backpackers is a very nice place to stay. Don’t expect luxury, it’s a hostel, and it’s not trying to be anything else. As such though, it ranks highly on my list of favourite hostels in New Zealand.
The main building is basically open plan, with a high, wood-panelled ceiling and wood beams, and holds the reception, a dining room with a big warming fire place, two internet terminals (how’s that for a simpler life experience?), a big kitchen and an elevated pool / sitting area. It keeps what it promises, a quaint, isolated, simple and thoroughly country experience, both in setting and decor. And many will be glad to hear that the common area is very well heated.
Service was very good. The women at reception were friendly and patiently answered all our questions (the road to Milford was closed, and we needed updates on the road status frequently).
We stayed in a 5-bed dorm, which was its own little cottage and consisted only of the dorm room and a bathroom. Everything was clean, but the cottage could have benefitted from a bit of maintenance or a face-lift. Not to say that it looked shabby. Not at all, but new curtains, a new carpet or maybe wooden floors, and a bit of decoration on the walls or new paint would make it look fabulous. Unfortunately we only had one heater in the room, and it did not manage to warm up our room properly. Beds were singles, no bunks, and we slept ok.
I’d say head to Barnyard Backpackers if you’re trying to avoid overpriced hostels in Te Anau, but bring warm clothes or ask for an extra blanket if it’s cold. The views from the property are fantastic. It’s a fairly big patch of land, with pathways leading from the cottages through the garden to the main building. Plus, we woke up to see the first snow on the mountains surrounding the area! Just step outside your cottage and there’s nothing between you and the mountains except fields and meadows.