Gyms in New Zealand are generally of the same high standard you can expect from any Western country. Prices vary from $5 to $25 a visit, with some gyms being considerably more backpacker friendly than others, and some refusing casual visits altogether. Occasionally hostels will have deals with local gyms offering a special rate, although this was not as common as I’d like!
Currency approximation: US$1 = NZ$1.38, €1 = NZ$1.70, £1 = NZ$1.93, AU$1 = NZ$1.06
at the time of writing.
The main chains I have come across are Jetts Fitness, Snap Fitness, Anytime Fitness and City Fitness – see general comments below, or simply select an area from the list:
Website : Jetts.co.nz
Staffed hours: Vary across the clubs, but generally around 7-10 hours on weekdays and less/closed on weekends.
Access is 24/7 for members via a swipe card.
Many Jetts clubs offer free 3 (consecutive) day trials during staffed hours Monday to Thursday, yet the small print states you must be a resident in New Zealand. I went along to a few clubs across the country to see if staff were likely to check my residency, saying as little as possible in the hope they wouldn’t notice I don’t have a local accent. Results varied; one club let me in without question, another refused me, but only on the grounds I had turned up on a Saturday – the free trial states Mon – Thu only (Why? Gym bunnies do not need four days off a week and the club was staffed?!). He said I was welcome to come back on Monday and never questioned my residency – but unfortunately I was leaving the area. The third club let me in, even though they asked if I lived there and was likely to join. I didn’t lie, and was therefore let in – on the proviso that I did not attempt to get free trials at every Jetts club in the country whilst I was travelling. I’d say three is acceptable though. ? It was unclear whether there was a central computer system recording my attempts, but no-one mentioned it if so!
The gyms varied noticeably in size from medium-large, all with high quality, modern equipment as you’d expect in any large chain. They offered the usual range of cardio, resistance equipment and free-weights, along with a dedicated floor area. Some offered a considerable variety of functional training equipment as well.
Note, there were no lockers in the clubs I visited. There were open cubbyholes located near the reception of each club, labelled “Open lockers”. I think “Lockers” is stretching it, Jetts! And whilst there are no changing rooms as such there are several individual unisex showers and toilets (or a combination of the two). Either leave your valuables in your accommodation or carry them around the gym with you.
Overall, this chain is my top pick and I would say your best chance of getting in for free. All staff were very friendly across the clubs, which all had excellent workout facilities – it’s absolutely worth taking a free trial here if the days and hours fit your schedule and they let you in.
Details of further chains will follow.