As the resort prepares for a reportedly booming winter, long-sought seasonal staff are struggling to find digs.
Seasonal worker Maya Lewis tells mountain scene She and her partner and two friends have been looking for a three bedroom house to rent for about two months.
You have applied for more than 20 houses and have not found any yet.
Lewis: “It was a great competition.
“I’ve scoured Trade Me, Facebook groups, [and] Real estate websites, application.
“We applied almost immediately after the house was advertised for rent and normally I wouldn’t hear a reply for about a week. [then] I get an email saying it’s already been requested.”
The group is relocating from Takaka, Golden Bay, which means they are unable to personally view rental properties at this time.
”Most [rentals] said they don’t even consider you if they don’t know you,” she says.
To increase her chances of getting a spot, Lewis has offered bigger bonds, pay more rent and do FaceTime interviews, but it hasn’t helped her plight.
She says the group’s current plan is to “hopefully” stay in a hostel for about a week — which will each cost about $200 a week — so they can “physically” search for a house.
Lewis, who is working for NZSki this season, is hoping to find a more permanent home before she starts work in a couple of weeks as she will be on the mountain from early morning until 5pm, making in-person viewings more difficult.
“It seems crazy that a Kiwi who has a job at NZSki [in] perhaps one of the biggest industries in Queenstown over the winter, can’t even find a place to live,” says Lewis.
Staff accommodation more difficult this winter
Paul Anderson, chief executive of NZSki, says he understands that miners have had a harder time finding accommodation this year.
He suspects – but isn’t sure – that this has to do in part with the number of properties returning to Airbnb after being occupied by long-term renters in recent years.
“Where people place their vacant rooms or houses has an impact on the amount of inventory available for ski workers,” he says.
“The other implications, and we’re not sure about that, but we’re wondering if some of the new rental rules have caused some landlords to take some homes off the market,” Anderson says.
He refers to the Residential Tenancy Act 2020, which came into force last year, and in particular to stricter requirements for the termination of a fixed-term tenancy.
To alleviate rental problems for their employees, NZSki offered some accommodation in their company-owned apartments off the Gorge Road.
Anderson says they’ve also been reaching out to the community, as they do every year, hoping to find people with vacant rooms who want extra income over the winter.
“We got a pretty solid response from the community… it is [also] an opportunity for our employees to live with family while in Queenstown.”
He says NZSki is also looking at some backpacker hostels in the city that haven’t reopened yet.
“We think it’s going to be busy, so it will be worth reopening, but of course that’s up to the individual hostel owner,” says Anderson.
Ruth Stokes, chief executive of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, advises any company looking to help workers find accommodation to first speak to the resort’s major accommodation providers.
“We have our moteliers association and we know that at the moment due to staffing pressures there is likely to be a window that some people may not be able to fully utilize.
“This additional capacity could be made available for residential construction.
“Obviously, that’s more of a short-term outcome than a long-term one,” says Stokes.