Frozen out

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Latecomers to Queenstown’s winter scene are in danger of being left without a roof over their heads if they don’t line up rental digs quick-smart. 

That’s the clear and present warning from three resort accommodation agencies. 

“We’ve been extremely busy,” Keith Hibbs of Executive Accommodation says. 

“They need to get in fairly soon.” 

Glenn Baillie of Queenstown Accommodation Centre agrees: “The ideal ski pad – a furnished place near to town – would be hard to come by even now.” 

Doug MacGillivray of Resort Rentals offers a deadline. “If they don’t get something within the next five or six weeks, then they’re going to be in real trouble.” 

This isn’t just agent hype – property numbers support the call for urgency. 

MacGillivray has just 16-20 rental places still available, Hibbs 27 and Baillie 38. 

Resort Rentals has noticed “a trend among a lot of the snow-season people” to arrange their rentals earlier and earlier, MacGillivray says. 

And tenants are having to compete. He’s just let a five-bedroom place in Panorama Terrace that five different groups were pitching for. 

Why the early-bird action? 

“Some of the [winter] people have come here in late summer and got jobs earlier,” MacGillivray says. 

“And decent jobs, they’re here for the long haul.” 

There’s also an Irish invasion, he reveals. 

“We seem to have an influx of Irish tenants for some reason, I don’t know why – and they’ve been here for two or three months now and got themselves organised for the winter.” 

But the recession must have freed up more rental properties, as builders and other tradesmen left town when work dried up? 

“No, definitely not,” MacGillivray says. “There’s so many other things happening here so a lot of that slack’s been taken up.” 

What about rent levels?
All three agents agree there was a slight softening about 12 months ago but say prices have steadied now. 

Winter tenants obviously want to be close to night-time action. 

“If everyone who wanted to live in the CBD actually did so, they’d be three deep,” MacGillivray says. 

Most tenants are “pretty flexible”, he adds. 

Connectabus’s expanding network helps. 

People these days also aren’t fussed about the occasional $8-$12 cab ride so Frankton Road and Fernhill remain popular. “If it’s a good furnished property, it gets snapped up.” 

Resort Rentals has just launched an upgraded website for new renters to source properties more easily.