Space being made for winter workers

Safe and secure staff accommodation will once again be available for seasonal workers in Wanaka this winter.

Opening next Wednesday, with rents ranging from $180-$200, "The Bothy" will use the former Base Backpackers building to provide accommodation for upwards of 210 people.

The lease terms were agreed this week and refurbishments and alternations have begun to meet the tight deadline.

Wanaka Backpackers Bothy owner Dave Brown said he had seen first-hand the need for seasonal worker accommodation in Wanaka.

He went into partnership with Cardrona Alpine Resorts to lease the building.

The building is owned by Otago businessman Martin Dippie.

"Providing safe, secure and warm accommodation for seasonal workers brings Wanaka up to a worldwide standard of staff welfare," Mr Brown said.

The Wanaka Backpackers Bothy would be serviced by backpacker employees who would live on site, he said.

Cardrona and Treble Cone experience general manager Laura Hedley said the space was an exciting development.

"We are so thrilled to be able to offer affordable accommodation for our whanau this season, especially in such a great central Wanaka location, right by the supermarket and staff transport pickups."

The new staff accommodation provides a reprieve from some of the longstanding pre-winter stresses for workers, such as finding affordable housing.

Base Backpackers went out of business at the start of last year, leading to a shortage of worker accommodation in Wanaka last winter.

Wanaka Backpackers Bothy owner Dave Brown says he saw first-hand the need for seasonal worker...
Wanaka Backpackers Bothy owner Dave Brown says he saw first-hand the need for seasonal worker accommodation in Wanaka, so he is refurbishing the former Base Backpackers to offer a solution. PHOTO: ASPEN BRUCE
Historically, seasonal workers have adopted creative solutions such as hostel-hopping when accommodation is unavailable.

In early June last year, former Cardrona employee Molly Raffoni moved to Wanaka and it was too late to secure seasonal accommodation.

Ms Raffoni said she relied on hostels, moving between several, in her first month.

In July, she rented a small cabin at Lakeview Holiday Park.

"It was essentially a small unfurnished, uninsulated box.

"Because I had my van I could use the bed from the van and collect some wooden pallets from behind New World as the bed frame and I invested in a little fan heater.

"Although it was only a minute walk from the bus pickup point, initially it felt very lonely and isolating at the camp site," she said.

She lived there during the August Level 4 lockdown until the end of the winter season.

Since the start of this month, the accommodation crisis has begun to pinch in the resort.

Only one backpackers will offer short-term accommodation throughout winter.

Mr Brown believed providing accommodation for winter workers on the scale of The Bothy was a first in New Zealand.

aspen.bruce@odt.co.nz

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