Difficult winter for house hunters


One of Queenstown’s rental accommodation managers says this winter has been one of the hardest on record for house-hunters.

But Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden says the situation will not improve until people in the district are ”willing to move over and make room” for more housing.

Property aggregate websites indicated yesterday there were 23 properties available to rent across Wakatipu – not including two boarding houses, or short-term holiday rental properties.

Of those, 19 cost less than $800 a week.

The most expensive is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom “walk in-walk out” property, priced at $1500 a week, for a minimum of six months.

Queenstown Accommodation Centre (QAC) general manager Craig Dow says the shortage of rental housing in the basin this year was almost unprecedented.

QAC has one of the largest rental portfolios in the resort but has only six available rentals, three of which were under application.

While the market “quietened down slightly” as winter wore on, there was still plenty of demand and QAC was fielding multiple applications per property.

“It’s very competitive.”

Dow had worked with QAC for almost five years, but had been living in the resort on and off for 21 and says this year would be “close, if not the hardest it’s been” for rental hunters.

Given development at Frankton which would see increased employment opportunities, it was unlikely to improve over the next couple of years “at least”.

Ms van Uden says there is no short-term fix for the housing shortage, which was why the council was fast-tracking housing development through an accord with the Government.

The first of those developments, Bridesdale Farm, near Lake Hayes, was announced in June.

Up to 150 houses are planned. At the time of the announcement 64 sections or house and land packages had been pre-sold.

However, some of the areas put forward for consideration, including those around Arrowtown, met strong objection from neighbouring residents.

Ms van Uden says for the situation to improve, everyone needed to be able to compromise.

“This is a tough town to live in. It’s a tough town to survive in.

“The council is trying to create the opportunity to get more housing.

“You can tie things up in knots by objecting, but the long-term answer is build more houses for people to be able to rent, or for young families to be able to get a leg up on that ladder.

“If we have to continue to go through lengthy, difficult consent processes, that make it expensive to do the things, and people fight about their backyards and protecting what they have all the time, it’s not going to get better faster.”

Of particular concern to Ms van Uden were families with children struggling to find a home or afford to keep it.

“As a community, it’s also about realising, on a bigger scale, we all have a part to play. There’s help out there and it’s about making sure that those people who are actually in situations where they’re not happy … and they’re struggling … are accessing it.

“We’ve all got a responsibility for that.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council property services manager Peter Laurenson says the council had investigated several properties in the district – including a property housing 20 people at Fernhill – but had found no issues.

“That’s not to say they’re not there, but it’s not that we’ve got a whole chunk of those that are coming to the fore.”

While there had been tenancy issues, particularly concerning landlords not handing over bonds, that was not part of council’s core business.

“The most we would do is tell people … go and have a talk to Citizens Advice, or directly to MBIE (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment).”

Radio New Zealand reported a meeting will be held in Queenstown this month between some South Island councils and MBIE representatives to look at ways of improving Tenancy Services compliance.