New Zealand’s Airbnb Host Award Winners for 2023 Revealed

Aotearoa’s most welcoming, creative and thoughtful Airbnb Hosts have been recognised as part of the platform’s third annual Host Awards.

Celebrating top Hosts and their listings on offer across the country, the Airbnb Host Awards aim to shine a spotlight on exceptional Hosts for the hospitality they offer guests, along with the benefits they bring to their communities. 

With categories such as Most Unique Stay and Best Design Stay, winners range from a converted romantic house bus set in a field on 35 acres overlooking the beautiful West Coast of Raglan, to an impeccably designed luxury glamping tent that blends luxury and nature on the hilltops of Waitomo.

Meanwhile, Kawakawa Hut – an off-the grid countryside hut built from repurposed materials – has picked up the award for Best Nature Stay. 

This year’s coveted Host of the Year award went to Rotorua’s David and Christina whose private cabin treats guests with a mix of personal touches, unexpected inclusions and warm and welcoming experiences such as homemade treats and a private outdoor bath. The space was architecturally designed as a retreat to recharge in a little piece of paradise and guests have consistently rated this property 5 stars, raving about the location and thoughtful touches and effort made.

South Island host Viv has won the Best New Host Award for her private guest suite located in the idyllic Arrowtown. 

This year’s new category, Best Room Host, was awarded to Joanna who provides a room in her light and bright Freemans Bay home, allowing guests to have the ultimate inner city experience.

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: 

“Local Hosts are the backbone of the Airbnb community and here in New Zealand we have so many incredible hosts who consistently go above and beyond for their guests and shine a spotlight on this beautiful country. We know that Hosts put in tremendous effort to ensure their listings are unique, curated and full of thoughtful touches that allow guests to immerse themselves in a truly unique experience to remember,” Ms Wheeldon said.

“It’s fantastic to see that all corners of the country are covered, with winning Hosts hailing from Arrowtown in the south, to Waitomo and up to Auckland. There’s also a range of price points, from luxe listings to tiny homes and everything in between. The winners all offer something unique to suit different styles, tastes and budgets and these awards promote the diversity on offer across the over 60 categories available on Airbnb.

“We’ve seen that the cost of living has created fundamental shifts in the way people are travelling and living, creating tangible opportunities for communities that lay off-the-beaten track. Domestic and affordable trends are seeing the benefits of tourism spreading further afield into regional New Zealand, and empowering locals to earn a living and make ends meet. It’s incredibly exciting to see travellers enthusiastic about exploring new destinations and Hosts act as passionate advocates for the regions and communities they live in.

“These Hosts are also helping to bring valuable tourist dollars to local businesses and support jobs. Being a Host is not just about sharing a special place, it also allows people to showcase their local areas while having an opportunity to earn extra income to combat the rising cost of living.”

Recently released research from Oxford Economics has found Airbnb is an important pillar of  Aotearoa’s tourism industry, contributing $2.8-billion to Gross Domestic Product and supporting 22,500 Kiwi jobs in the 12 months to March 2023.

The independent report titled The Economic Impact of Airbnb in APAC, found the platform accounted for approximately 7.8 percent of the tourism industry’s contribution to GDP in 2022, up from 5 percent in 2019.

The report also highlights the powerful multiplier effect Airbnb guest spending has within local communities. In 2022, Airbnb guests spent over $3-billion in New Zealand at restaurants, retail stores and on transportation among other tourist activities.

Winning Hosts were selected based on extensive Airbnb data, guest scores and reviews, with oversight from a panel of judges that included Australia and New Zealand Airbnb Country Manager, Susan Wheeldon, and New Zealand born Host Felicity Stevens who sits on Airbnb’s global Host Advisory Board

“I was blown away by the finalists included in this year’s Airbnb’s Host Awards and the task of choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. It is clear these hosts put a lot of love and effort into their listings and it certainly pays off,” Ms Stevens said.

“The dedication to ensuring a seamless and memorable experience for all guests is incredibly special to see across all of the categories.” 

Please find the full list of award finalists at


HOST OF THE YEAR – recognising Hosts who provide consistently outstanding experience and hospitality to their guests

WINNER: David and Christina Chemis, The Cabin, Rotorua 

ABOUT THE HOST: David and Christina love to leave personalised touches and unexpected treats for their guests upon arrival so they feel welcome and can enjoy a sense of luxury.

“We love meeting people from all around the world and The Cabin enables us to show Manaakitanga to all who come to stay. Our aim is to create an environment that puts guest’s comfort at the forefront,” they said.

JUDGE SUSAN WHEELDON: “It’s apparent David and Christina always go above and beyond in making the guests feel incredibly comfortable and special with their thoughtful touches and welcome treats. It’s clear that these acts of exceptional hospitality as well as overall attention to detail and quality is why over 280 guests have consistently left 5 star reviews. An incredible achievement from two unforgettable hosts.”

BEST NEW HOST – recognising new Hosts who started Hosting on Airbnb within the past year, who also create a warm and inviting space and help guests feel that they belong anywhere in the world. 

WINNER: Viv Madsen-Ries, Modern private guest suite, Arrowtown

ABOUT THE HOST: The Loft on Flynn Host, Viv prides herself on offering a beautiful and memorable stay and has found her complimentary homemade cupcakes are a key ingredient to her formula for success.

“I consider myself fortunate to live in a beautifully historic location and just love sharing my small piece of paradise with others – a luxury that Hosting provides me with,” Host Viv Madsen-Ries said.

One of my favourite ways to enhance my guests’ experience is by providing them with complimentary gifts. I love leaving homemade welcome cards on the dining table, offering locally sourced seasonal fruit, baking, or if they’re celebrating something special, celebratory cupcakes! I truly cherish the feeling when I have provided my guests with a special and memorable experience.”

JUDGE FELICITY STEVENS: “Viv clearly loves to look after guests and takes great pride in making her guests feel welcome and comfortable.  She has put a lot of thought and effort into every detail in the loft to make sure guests feel well looked after and make the best of the surrounding community.”

BEST DESIGN STAY – recognising Hosts who showcase highly considered design throughout their homes

WINNER: Luxury Glamping Tent with Hot Tub, Waitomo

ABOUT THE LISTING: Experience the luxury of sleeping under canvas in the Pōhutukawa tent. With breathtaking views of rolling hills and farmland, you’ll feel connected to nature in every moment of your stay.

“We designed our Pōhutukawa Tent to seamlessly blend the nostalgia of traditional camping experiences, sustainability, a touch of luxury, and the stunning natural landscape of Waitomo. It’s our way of offering guests the opportunity to make lasting memories while enjoying the very best that glamping has to offer,” Host Emily Scott said.

“A labour of love, the layout of the tent is a favourite architectural element of ours and is deliberately designed to foster togetherness. Our common areas are where treasured memories are made, whether it’s huddling around the campfire, sharing stories in the hot tub, or crafting delicious pizzas at the outdoor pizza oven and BBQ. We believe in the power of these shared moments, and our tent is thoughtfully oriented to encourage them.”

JUDGE FELICITY STEVENS: “The Hosts have done an incredible job to maximise the views of the location and set up an incredible immersive stay for guests to experience this slice of New Zealand life. This stay has been beautifully curated by a visionary and talented Host who shows creativity and innovation with exceptional eye for details. I love that the Pōhutukawa tent seamlessly blends luxury aesthetics with functionality that evokes emotion and nostalgia, creating a magical experience that will stay with guests long after they leave.”

MOST UNIQUE STAY – recognising Hosts who provide a unique stay for their guests through a distinct home 

WINNER: Raglan LoveBus, Raglan 

ABOUT THE LISTING: Experience off-the-grid living in this romantic house bus set in a field on 35 acres; it has large, expansive views of the coast and ocean, an outdoor bath on a big deck and a firepit to toast marshmallows

“From the time guests arrive at the top gate of our property, they know they’re in for an unforgettable and unique adventure. Set high in a field overlooking pasture and ocean, our house bus is an experience unlike any other New Zealand stay,” Hosts Tara and Guillaume Wrigley Gignoux said.

“With the chance to go off-grid and reconnect with nature and each other, our guests love the magical experience a stay at the bus gives them. From turning on the little solar-powered lights, gathering wood from the forest for the outdoor fire, toasting marshmallows and laying back in the outside bath looking out to the ocean or up at the stars, for the time they’re with us, the bus and the land are theirs to enjoy.”

JUDGE FELICITY STEVENS: “The property is undoubtedly a unique stay with this exceptional bus conversion. This bus is located in a beautiful location and it is set up to take in the spectacular sunsets and the surrounding bushland. The host, Tara, has put a lot of thought into setting up one of a kind experiences for guests to take part in when they stay with a stream close by, a picnic tree, firepit and outdoor bath.”

BEST NATURE STAY – recognising Hosts who provide an authentic country experience in regional and rural locations 

WINNER: Kawakawa Hut, Taupo

ABOUT THE LISTING: Kawakawa Hut provides a simple off the grid countryside getaway for two and is built of repurposed materials so that your stay has a low environmental impact.

“Tucked neatly between the rolling hills of the North Island, Kawakawa Hut is a small but special little place on our Taupō farm,” Host Chanel Griffiths said.

“Whether it’s the repurposed materials the hut has been built from, the adjacent vege garden, or the second-hand treasures dotted throughout the interior, we’ve designed every element of this off-grid stay to ensure guests enjoy a getaway with low environmental impacts.”

JUDGE FELICITY STEVENS: “This hut has it all for the ultimate nature escape. Situated among beautiful countryside this lovely setting and cosy comfortable home offers guests the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy this simple way of life. Not only is this stay good for the soul but has been built with the environment and sustainability at the forefront, allowing guests to travel consciously and impact.”

BEST ROOM HOST – recognising Hosts who provide a room for guests, allowing them to have the ultimate local experience

WINNER: Lovely Villa in Freemans Bay, Auckland

ABOUT THE LISTING: Joanna wanted to share her light and bright inner city haven and create an authentic, local experience for guests.

“I love providing a home away from home for guests when they arrive at our Freemans Bay Villa. It’s a pleasure to learn about people from all walks of life and see their faces light up when they wake up to a breakfast of homemade muesli, bread and preserves,” Host Joanna Bell said.

“Earning a living from Hosting has also gifted us the freedom to do a bit of travelling ourselves during the winter time here and visit family in the UK. I’ll never complain about the beauty of two summers!”

JUDGE FELICITY STEVENS: “Joanna is an incredible Host who makes her guests feel at home and part of the family, known for her wonderful conversation and going out of her way to ensure guests have a delicious breakfast before they depart. It is value driven, beautifully designed and quality stays like Joanna’s that offer guests choice when travelling to Auckland.”