Rental rescue – plans for worker accommodation


A developer plans to address Queenstown’s critical shortage of rental accommodation with the resort’s first workers’ complex for many years.

Invercargill holiday park owner Gerry Oudhoff intends converting the Q Box motorhome park on Bowen Street, 10 minutes’ walk from the CBD, into a village of 40 one-and two-bedroom rental homes.

Oudhoff - who’s bought the park along with his wife and a business partner for $2.45 million - says: “We’re going to target the affordable accommodation market.”

Queenstown’s rental shortage has been biting home this winter.

Many workers who can’t find homes are living in hostels or caravans - or else leaving town.

A TV One news report claimed up to 30 people were living in a nine-bedroom home dubbed ‘the castle of
Fernhill’, while rental agents warn that some landlords are individually renting out two or three beds per room.

In addition, several dozen workers are likely to be homeless shortly with council ordering the removal of the Lakeview cabins.

After taking possession of Q Box next Thursday, the new owners will continue running it as a motorhome park for six months.

Meantime, they’ll start building 26 two-bedroom and 14 one-bedroom homes in Invercargill.

Subject to consents, they’ll then start trucking them up to Queenstown in February.

“This is a far more cost-effective option,” Oudhoff says.

“They’re a good liveable size - good-sized bedrooms, kitchen, shower and toilet.”

Rental levels haven’t been set, but Oudhoff promises they’ll be affordable.

He’s thinking of letting units for a minimum of three months.

On-site managers will be employed to ensure the complex is properly run, he adds.

“We’ve talked to the council, I think they will be quite thankful at the end of the day.”

Asked her reaction, local Housemart rental agency owner Hayley Stevenson says the proposal is “fantastic”.

“It’s a great location, close to town, people won’t need to have a car.

“If it’s good-quality accommodation we certainly need it, and it definitely fills a gap.”

She’s certain the homes will be snapped up.

Local Colliers International tourism broker Steve McIsaac, who marketed the property with colleague Barry Robertson, says not enough rental accommodation is coming onto the Queenstown market.

“We’re encouraging more visitors to come and see us - how do we keep the workforce to serve all those people?”

McIsaac says one of the problems is there aren’t many high density residential-zoned sites as suitable as this property.

“Purpose-built residential as an investment product is very thin on the ground in Queenstown, as opposed to everything being titled and sold off individually.

“I think that’s what Queenstown’s going to see next to address worker accommodation.”

Rising rentals caused by the scarcity of accommodation is making this sort of development feasible, he says.

He also believes that building the homes off-site is a smart move.

“From a labour rate point of view, obviously it’s a lot more cost-effective to do it in Invercargill.”