Skifields scramble for staff housing

A Queenstown skifield operator is taking ads in school newsletters in a bid to house its staff this winter.

NZSki is worried hundreds of staff it employs at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables will struggle to find a home for the season.

As a result, chief executive Paul Anderson said it was targeting homeowners who let out rooms nightly on Airbnb and were sick of it - or those who had never considered renting their spare room.

He estimated about half his 900 staff were locals who already had a place to stay, and about half the staff coming from overseas would already have something organised.

‘‘So we reckon there’s about 200 or 300 staff turning up going, ‘Where am I going to live?’’’

Since advertising in school newsletters late last week, NZSki had already had offers of about 30 rooms.

Queenstown has a dire shortage of worker accommodation - Mayor Jim Boult has even convened a task force on affordable housing.

Mr Boult applauded NZSki for ‘‘a great initiative’’ but said purpose-built worker digs were the long-term answer.

‘‘We are attempting to assist developers who are heading down that track.’’

Mr Anderson’s plea said people could earn up to $3000 for housing someone for three to four months.

Anyone letting out a room for more than three months would not be rated for visitor accommodation.

NZSki was simply acting as a broker, Mr Anderson said.

People taking on ski staff as renters would ‘‘keep control’’. ‘‘You will have the choice of who to interview and accept, and any agreement will be directly between you and the tenant’’, he said in a newsletter statement. Last winter, NZSki tried to solve the problem by providing subsidised accommodation in Cromwell and bussing workers to and from the ski-fields.

But only 15 to 20 staff took up the offer.

Longer term, Mr Anderson was hopeful developers would build worker accommodation that employers like NZSki could use to house staff.

 - Philip Chandler

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