Queenstown’s logjam a handbrake


Queenstown’s big squeeze might be holding back Otago’s economy.

Tourists continue their love affair with Queenstown, ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says, with guest nights up 18 per cent annually at the end of March. 

“The big question from here is can we squeeze any more in this winter?”

Otago Chamber of Commerce boss Dougal McGowan tells the Otago Daily Times tourism continues to be the main driver of the regional economy but there are growing concerns about the region’s ability to cope with increased demands without significant infrastructure investment.

There’s concern the lack of investment would also impact on visitors’ experience.

Already there are signs of skill shortages throughout the region, along with a lack of housing, he says.

Throughout Central Otago there’s a growing need for temporary . More importantly, there’s a need for sustainable low-cost housing options for local permanent residents.

“People are finding it harder to move to the area to fill the skills shortage as there is nowhere affordable for them to live.”

It is even worse in the colder winter months when people can’t live in tents or caravans as they did during summer.

Tuffley says Otago sits third-equal on the ASB/Main Report regional economic scoreboard on four stars, with Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, behind five-star regions Auckland and the Bay of Plenty.

But with house prices on an annual basis, housing affordability might be holding back more workers from living their Queenstown dream and for Otago grabbing its fifth star, Tuffley says.

As Queenstown bursts at the seams, places such as Te Anau are well-placed to benefit.

McGowan notes a jump in the construction sector where a mixture of large scale projects were under way, along with a surge in renovations. That had caused a spike in the number of consents throughout the region with accumulated pressure resulting in , he says.

Otago Daily Times