New Zealand Hotel Rating System Explained

Qualmark ranks hotels

New Zealand uses a very deceptive hotel ranking system when you search online for a hotel.  Qualmark, a third-party for-profit company, is the hotel rating system that is used in New Zealand.  Qualmark does not just rate hotels, but they evaluate and have standards for numerous types of businesses in the tourism industry.

Rating System

Qualmark evaluates accommodations on a five-star system.  The problem is that not all accommodations are rated on the same scale. Qualmark uses a separate scale for holiday parks, backpackers, motels, hotels, B&B, apartments, holiday homes, and boutique & lodge.

qualmark categories

The standards for the same star level are different for each category.  That means that you can only compare properties that are in the same category and cannot compare all three-star accommodations to each other. Although you cannot compare properties in different categories, there is a rough standard for the stars.

Qualmark rating scale


How to get a rating

Qualmark is a for-profit organization and to get an official rating accommodations need to pay Qualmark to evaluate them.  The cost for a rating starts at $600 plus a $200 application fee.  Qualmark then comes to the property and does an evaluation that lasts up to four hours.  The property is given a handbook to prepare for their rating, so they know how and what is evaluated.

Reliability of Qualmark Ratings

Qualmark publishes a list of properties that they rated. They do not have a single accommodation in any category that is rated lower than three stars. I find it hard to believe that every property that is rated is “good to very good,” and there is not a single one or two-star properties.  That is part of the problem with rating systems that the properties pay to get a rating.


Online New Zealand Hotel Ratings

Hotels submit their Qualmark rating to online travel agencies like and Expedia.  Online travel agencies only list the number of stars that a property has, not the category that the property was rated under.  That means that on Expedia a backpackers accommodation that has a five-star rating will appear as having the same rating as a true five-star hotel.  This is very confusing and can lead to the perception that low-quality properties are better than they look.

Hotel Rating System Overall

It is hard to take a hotel ranking system that is pay to play that does not have a single property rated less lower than three stars seriously.  Since the ranking system is not universal if you are booking a property online, it is important to remember what category the property is ranked in when you make an informed decision.  The hardest categories to tell apart are the hotel and motel category since some properties have hotel in the name, but choose to be ranked as a motel.

What do you think of the New Zealand hotel rating system? Make sure to check out our guide on New Zealand discounts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.