Tourism tension in the ‘burbs

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Suburb tensions: Chinese tourists at Moss Lane

Bus-loads of Chinese are bringing tourism boom tensions to the boil in a sleepy Queenstown suburb.

Residents in Sunshine Bay and Fernhill say hundreds of visitors are being ferried to “over-used” short-term accommodation.

Heidi Ross, who lives on Moss Lane, looks out of her window in the morning to find groups congregating on her lawn and driveway.

She lives next to two units registered as Gemini Lake View Villa holiday homes – with a maximum stay of 90 days each.

“There’s no way they’re only being used for 90 days,” she says.

“Bus-loads of people are dropped off all the time – I’ve been keeping a record.”

Ross has been complaining to Queenstown’s council for months about the $600-a-night-plus properties.

Counting the days: Heidi Ross in front of the holiday home, with her property to the left

But property boss Min Yang labels Ross a “nitpicker”.

“She complains about everything, and we’ve made lots of changes she has asked for.

“There is nothing we can do. They have not been used for more than 90 days.”

Yang applied for visitor accommodation consent, which allows visitors to stay year-round.

But he’s pulled it because, with Ross’ objection, it has to be publicly notified.

Yang: “The council lady said it would cost $20,000, so we’ll keep it at 90 days.

“We are just starting out as a business and Queenstown is very expensive.”

The council has issued Yang an abatement notice telling him to stick to the rules.

Artist Sue Wademan lives next door to an $800-a-night-plus property managed by Yang on Wynyard Crescent, Fernhill, known as DH Lake View Villa.

Wademan and husband Spike are also counting the days the property is used.

“But it’s our word against theirs so what can you do – take a picture every day?”

She says it affects their quality of life and non-Chinese visitors are just as bad.

Yang says Queenstown needs B&Bs. “Due to the high price of Queenstown hotels in last year, the visitors from China dropped in the middle of this year,” he says.

Ross says Yang offered to buy her property for $900,000 but she turned him down. Yang says if owners want to sell it’s good for both parties.

‘We’re looking at it’

Queenstown’s council is thrashing out new visitor accommodation rules for the ‘burbs and elsewhere.

It’ll be included in the next phase of the proposed district plan.

Resource consents boss Quinn McIntyre says it’ll look at issues “including the need to acknowledge the differences between commercial, small-scale and part-time visitor accommodation”.

The rules should be “understandable and enforceable, and take into the account of the effects on housing supply”.

Applications for visitor accommodation – anything over 90 days – are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Owners who don’t comply with the rules can be fined up to $750 a day.

Short stays – up to 90 days – don’t require consent. They just have to be registered and pay 25 per cent more than general rates.

Following 792 letters sent by the council in January, 50 property owners have been slapped with $300 fines for having unregistered short stays.

Got a short-stay horror story? Send us an email: paul.taylor@scene.co.nz