Boxing them in

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New Zealand’s first accommodation park comprising recycled shipping containers is under way in Queenstown.
Q Box, as the park will be named, is due to open its first stage in July. 

It will provide backpacker and temporary workers’ accommodation on the site of the former Bush Creek Health Retreat, below Industrial Place. 

Q Box Ltd, owned by two Aucklanders, has consent for up to 140 beds in 70 containers. 

The project manager is former Aucklander Peter Crowe, who opened Queenstown’s first workers’ accommodation, the 93-room Reavers Lodge, in 2002. He sold Reavers two and a half years ago for $7,850,000. 

“The problem in NZ is the cost of construction,” Crowe says. 

“We pay too much for the land and too much to build, so since we finished Reavers we’ve been coming up with a way of building things at low-cost.” 

A container costs about $3500, then $45,000 to $55,000 to fit it out for accommodation, depending on the specifications. 

The first 10 are being retro-fitted in Indonesia, using local hardwood, but for time-saving rather than cost reasons, Crowe says. 

Stage one totals 15. 

Bedrooms in the 31sq m containers, which are 12m long, will have bathrooms and some will have small kitchens. 

A 240sq m hub, comprising eight containers, will house a communal lounge, kitchen, laundry and reception facilities. 

“The whole idea is people will use the hub, and only use the bedrooms to sleep in,” Crowe says. 

The 1.3ha park will also provide room for up to 50 campervans. 

“There’s a shortage of campervan sites in Queenstown, and also an ongoing problem with freedom campers,” Crowe says. 

While Reavers Lodge mainly accommodates workers, Crowe thinks Q Box, with its novelty value, will be more backpacker-oriented. 

“We’ve done a lot of work with companies that bring a lot of backpackers into NZ and they think we will provide a better quality product than what they generally get throughout NZ,” Crowe says. 

Crowe also suggests the recession has reduced the local demand for staff accommodation, but that will change when the economy picks up. 

Nightly tariffs will be about $65 to $80 for a double room, $22 to $28 for bunk beds and $35 for a campervan site, though that would vary seasonally. 

Crowe boasts of the park’s “green” credentials. 

Shipping containers being converted into accommodation would otherwise head for landfills, he says. 

The developers are also preserving and enhancing the well-known garden established round Bush Creek by former owner, naturopath Eileen Mutch. And about 1000 native plants will be established. 

Crowe says the development cost is about $4.5m-$5m, including $2.2m for the land. 

The company bought the site a year ago from locals Wayne Cafe and Rob Greig. They’d won consent for a 120-unit worker/student accommodation complex. 

Auckland developer Tim Manning, who built the Greenstone Terrace housing complex on Frankton Road, had planned to sell unit-titled apartments for $600,000-$750,000, but his option on the property lapsed. 

Crowe believes Q Box Ltd’s plans are more realistic in today’s economic climate, and for this site.
“At the moment you have to do something different.”