Crisis forces big firms together


Some of Queenstown’s biggest employers are pulling together to find a fix for the worker accommodation crisis.

The rise of Airbnb and the resort’s sheer growth has made it difficult for workers, especially hospitality staff, to find somewhere affordable to live.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa boss Chris Roberts, of Wellington, calls the staff worker crisis “the number one concern of our hotel members in Queenstown right now”.

Millbrook director of operations Brian Howie, TIA’s hotel sector regional rep, confirms a group of the resort’s larger employers are clubbing together to find a fix.

“I guess the concern is that we’re going to head into another busy spring/summer/autumn period and there haven’t been any fixes that are going to alleviate the problem.

“You look at developments out at Five Mile, there’s now more businesses looking for more workers and I don’t think there’s any more accommodation - the problem is not going to get any easier.”

NZSki boss Paul Anderson says a “handful” of companies have met several times to discuss worker housing.

“There have been some developers who have come in and had a few conversations,” he says.

“Most of us don’t want to spend our own capital on building staff accommodation - but there are developers around who might.”

NZSki offered staff subsidised accommodation in Cromwell this winter, but only 20 took it up.

Queenstown is where people want to be, he says.

“The availability’s still there but the cost is escalating beyond what our staff can bear.”

Queenstown hotels were at 94 per cent occupancy in February.

But TIA’s Roberts says for the hotels themselves, though, the worry is: “Are there enough rooms for the workers?”

Local MP Todd Barclay confirms Housing Minister Nick Smith and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye have briefed officials to try to speed up the disposal of the Wakatipu High School site.

Mayoral candidate Jim Boult flagged the Gorge Road site this week as a “viable accommodation option”.