Nifty ski plea


A skifield operator is appealing to Wakatipu homeowners to house its staff this winter.

Queenstown has a dire shortage of worker accommodation.

And NZSki is worried hundreds of staff it employs at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables will struggle to find digs for the season.

As a result, boss Paul Anderson says it’s targeting homeowners who let out rooms nightly on Airbnb and are sick of it – or those who’ve never considered renting their spare room.

Since advertising in school newsletters late last week, NZSki’s already had offers of about 30 rooms.

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult applauds NZSki for “a great initiative”.

But he says purpose-built worker digs is the long-term answer.

“We are attempting to assist developers who are heading down that track.”

Queenstown’s council has set up a taskforce to look at solutions to local housing issues.

Anderson’s plea to homeowners is: “If you house someone for three or four months, you could earn $3000 for a room, and help out a great young person who has jumped through all the hoops to get a job with us.

“It’s really a win-win.”

Anderson adds anyone letting out a room for more than three months won’t be rated for visitor accommodation.

NZSki’s simply acting as a broker, he says.

As stated to parents in the school newsletter: “You keep control – you will have the choice of who to interview and accept, and any agreement will be directly between you and the tenant.”

Anderson: “We think $200 a week is fair, but there might be people with fully self-contained double rooms and they can demand a bit more because you’ll get a couple in there.

“If we get 100 rooms, that’s a massive dent in the issue we’ve got.”

He estimates about half his 900 staff are locals who already have digs, and about half the staff coming from overseas will already have something jacked up.

“So we reckon there’s about 200 or 300 staff turning up going, ‘where am I going to live?”‘

Anderson says he first thought about his ‘home an NZSkier’ scheme when talking to a few people who put their rooms on Airbnb.

“They were maybe making good money but were frustrated with lots of people going in and out of their home all the time.”

Last winter, NZSki tried to solve the problem by providing subsidised accommodation in Cromwell and bussing workers to and from the skifields.

But only 15 to 20 staff took up the offer.

“It just wasn’t attractive to staff because Queenstown is where they want to be,” Anderson says.

Longer term he’s hopeful developers will build worker accommodation that employers like NZSki can use to house staff.

“We know that there’s a lot of employers in town who are concerned.

“We’ve spoken to quite a few developers about it.”

Anderson, however, says the cost of land is a sticking point.

“The problem is that the best-value use for a piece of land in central Queenstown is probably not going to be worker accommodation unless local or central government comes to the party and helps.”