We’re NZ’s smartest but we don’t think where we live is really all that clever


QLDC community report throws up some eyebrow-raising facts.


Schools cause concern

Queenstown parents are the least satisfied with their children’s schools compared with the rest of the district.

Only 55 per cent of people are satisfied with the resort’s primary and secondary facilities – other areas average at least 70 per cent satisfaction.

Wakatipu High principal Lyn Cooper (above) says the school’s decile 10 rating means “unfair representation”.

“We are a state, rural, decile 10 school and well over 75 per cent of other decile 10 schools are private or integrated. You can understand if [parents] don’t understand how [the decile 10 rating] comes about, you can see why we aren’t doing as well. When if you actually look at it, we certainly are.”

Meanwhile, the level of satisfaction with Queenstown’s tertiary education facilities “remains reasonably static” at 64.5 per cent, the report says.

Queenstown and Arrowtown communities also aren’t that happy with early childhood education facilities – 52 and 46 per cent respectively are dissatisfied with the existing bulging centres.



Healthcare gripes

Just over half of residents in the Queenstown Lakes district are happy with healthcare – which “remains a concern”, the report says. A shocking 46.8 per cent are dissatisfied – dropping slightly from 2007.

Much of the discontent could be linked to the well-publicised elderly care crisis in the Wakatipu.

“Nothing has changed,” laments Lorraine Cooper (right), who spearheaded Queenstown’s Elderly Care Task Force.

“Sadly the promises that were given to us by the Southland District Health Board – they reneged on those.

So things are still at the status quo, with six 24-hour-care hospital beds for the elderly [at Lakes District Hospital] which are clearly not enough – there’s a waiting list.

When they need that 24-hour care there’s nowhere for them to go apart from out-of-town.”



Rent is through the roof

Queenstown’s an expensive place to live. Almost two-thirds of us pay more than $250 each for a week’s rent – that’s at least $13,000 a year.

And this figure is almost double the national rate of 36 per cent who shell out that amount.

Mum-to-be Tara Affleck (right) and her husband pay $300 a week for a modest, fully-furnished, two-bedroom semi-detached house in Fernhill/Sunshine Bay.

Previously living in Glenorchy, Affleck admits their new house is “very expensive – but compared to what else we saw it was clean, tidy and efficient, and in a good location.

I think you have to get used to Queenstown being expensive”.



Public transport needs a revamp 

While the Wakatipu’s public transport service has increased over the last few years, it seems we’re still not happy with its convenience.

Satis­faction in Queenstown dropped from 66 per cent to 61 per cent, while Arrowtown’s satisfaction slumped from 76 per cent to 65 per cent.

QLDC transport planning boss Denis Mander says the overall expectation of having a comprehensive bus service has increased: “There’s far greater awareness of the need for a good public transport service.

We’ve actually got quite a good system but for many people it doesn’t have the coverage or the frequency that makes it a competitive alternative to driving by car.”

Meanwhile, the private car reigns supreme with more than 60 per cent of us never taking a bus last year.



Coming of age

We’re “less diverse” than the rest of New Zealand because of our “over-represent­ation” of people aged 25-45, the report says. This age group makes up 45 per cent of Queenstown’s population.

“This is balanced by an under-representation of under 20-year-olds and over-65s.” Party on.



Businesses under pressure

Most of the businesses in the Queenstown Lakes district are involved with property and business services, followed by construction, the report says.

Those who work as legislators, administrators, or in services and sales are the highest groups in the district – figures higher than the national average.

QLDC expects the rate of business growth to slow as the recession bites.



More educated than most

Time to hang up those degree certificates with pride – we’re better educated than the national average.

Only 12 per cent of the Queenstown Lakes district has no qualifications, and 17 per cent have a “degree or higher” qualification compared with 14 per cent nationally.

Resort law firm Cruickshank Pryde’s first female partner Sarah Harvey (right) says:

“It doesn’t surprise me – mostly because of what it costs to live here. I find that the people I know who aren’t professionals, they find it difficult and don’t stay.”



Footpaths on shaky ground

The ground we walk on isn’t looking too blessed well, according to the survey. Our satisfaction with Queenstown footpaths has slipped from 59 per cent to 54 per cent – below QLDC’s target level of 60 per cent.

QLDC controls and maintains 90km of footpaths district-wide.

Arrowtown bucks the overall-downward trend – with 61 per cent happy. 



Volunteering time

We’re a caring bunch – a third of people in the Wakatipu donate some of their time to volunteer for good causes.

People living in Lake Hayes seem to be the best at it with about 35 per cent of their population participating, followed by Kelvin Heights (33 per cent) and Arrowtown (29 per cent).

Queenstown Bay, Queenstown Hill and Sunshine Bay are the lowest, with 15.5, 17.5 and 18 per cent of their respective populations helping out.

The Salvation Army’s corps leader Kenneth Walker, pictured (right) with volunteer Wilma Cutler, says:

“That could reflect the nature of the make-up of those [areas]. People’s age and stage in life dictates how much time they have to volunteer.”





Personal income on rise

Queenstown – home of the mega-wealthy. It’s true – but only 3.9 per cent of the district earn more than $100,000, according to the report, based on 2006 census figures. That figure has doubled since 2001.

Local human resources consultant Sheena Naughton (right) says: “Normally it would be a fairly hefty general manager position, running all aspects of the business [to claim a $100,000-plus salary].

I’d imagine some of the senior professionals in some businesses would earn that much as well.” However, most of us get by earning between $50,001-$70,000.



Divided over pride

Who would have thought it – we live in one of the world’s most beautiful places yet just over half of us, 56.9 per cent, are “very proud” of where we call home.

A staggering 43.1 per cent of Queenstowners say they’re “sometimes proud”, and Arrowtown fares even worse – only 51.1 per cent say they’re very proud of where they live.

Arguably one of Queenstown’s proudest blokes, Brendan Quill (right), says people can often get complacent about living in paradise.

“I think any community’s going to have little pitfalls here and there that change peoples’ perception of where they live, but sometimes you’ve got to pinch yourselves – where else would you rather be?

This time of year is just gorgeous. What a place to call home, jeepers.”



Findings come from Queenstown Lakes District Council’s recently-released community outcomes monitoring report, which follows its annual residents and ratepayers survey and includes some data from the 2006 census.

Story by Celia Williams