Backpackers piggybacks on building


Queenstown is going up to solve its accommodation woes.

Mountain Scene can reveal a developer wants to convert his three-level CBD building into a big backpackers by adding two floors.

Ian Hamilton’s Oxford Holdings Ltd this week lodged a consent application for a 256-bed hostel on the corner of Camp and Memorial Streets, opposite the Recreation Ground.

The backpackers will displace the bars occupying the building’s current three levels - Malbas Tavern, Camp Street Brewing Company and Xtreme Sports Bar.

But it will help address the resort’s chronic shortage of visitor accommodation.

It also adds to the growing number of backpackers in the CBD - a 55-bed hostel opens soon in Athol St.

Hamilton’s enlarged five-level building will be mostly 14 metres high.

That’s about one floor higher than current planning rules allow but exactly the height suggested for the area in Queenstown council’s proposed district plan.

Oxford Holdings’ application - prepared by local planning firm John Edmonds & Associates - says there’ll be 24 dormitory bunk rooms and 36 stand-alone hotel-style rooms.

The reception area will be on the lower ground floor, off Camp St, currently occupied by Malbas.

The top floor sports a communal kitchen and dining area, small bar and outdoor deck, for guests only, with a communal kitchen and dining area on the ground floor.

The ground floor’s stone cladding will stay but the first-floor corrugated iron exterior will go.

The design, by JCY Architects’ Queenstown office, features “predominantly stone and cedar weatherboard cladding materials that are often used in other buildings in Queenstown”, the application states.

Because the enlarged building exceeds current height limits, the developer is asking council to publicly notify it.

The application doesn’t say if a hostel operator is confirmed.

In January, however, Jucy Group’s boss Tim Alpe said his tourism company has been looking for a suitable backpackers site in central Queenstown.

It wants to use the same ‘pod’ concept - guests sleeping in two metre-long capsules - it’s using for a 282-bed ‘Jucy Snooze’ hotel it’s building next to Christchurch International Airport.

The 114-bed Tahuna hostel, which opened last year in Queenstown’s Henry St, was touted as NZ’s first pod hostel.