I found the Rainbow Lodge great for independent travelers. We did not see any bus groups, the crowd is mixed in terms of age and there was a very relaxed atmosphere.
The hostel is located near Taupo Bungy, so a few streets up from the lake, but that is not a disadvantage at all, since you can walk down to the centre and lake in 5-10 minutes. It’s a quiet area with lots of parking available, also on the property. Rainbow Lodge is set up in 2 buildings as far as I can remember, and our room was located in the building behind the main one.
We stayed in a 6-bed dorm, which was on the small side but still ok, had a few windows, so good ventilation, and beds were massive wooden bunks with good mattresses, so no problems there. The dorm was an en-suite, and the shower&sink were in a room so tiny you have to call it a wardrobe. But that’s really the only negative thing I can say about this place.
Everything was clean, from rooms to toilets to kitchen, and staff was very nice, friendly and helpful, professional and really doing their job at making you feel welcome and helping with any problems.
The communal area is open plan and is divided into kitchen, sitting room and dining area. It’s a big room but it still feels cosy. The kitchen is very big and provides enough hobs for lots of people to cook at the same time. The property also has a nice veranda with tables and chairs for you to sit and sip a glass of wine in the evening.
Would recommend that to anyone trying to get away from the bus crowd / party hostels or bland and anonymous places.