Wanaka backpackers to open for seasonal ski workers

Staff accommodation will finally be available for seasonal workers in Wānaka this winter.

With a capacity to host upward of 210 people, rent ranging from $180-$200, theBothy Central will utilise former Base Backpackers opening June 1.

The lease terms were agreed upon this week.

Refurbishments and alternations have begun to meet the quick deadline.

theBothy owner Dave Brown said he saw first-hand the need for seasonal worker accommodation in Wānaka.

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

Mr Brown said theBothy Central will be serviced by backpacker employees who will live on site.

theBothy owner Dave Brown. Photo: Aspen Bruce
theBothy owner Dave Brown. Photo: Aspen Bruce

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

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

The new staff accommodation provides a reprieve from some of the long-standing pre-season stresses such as finding affordable housing.

Historically seasonal workers have adopted creative solutions such as hostel hopping when accommodation was unavailable.

In early June 2021 former Cardrona employee Molly Raffoni moved to Wānaka and said it was too late to secure seasonal accommodation.

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

In July 2021 she rented a small cabin at Lakeview Holiday Park.

TheBothy Central will be serviced by backpacker employees who will live on site. Photo: Aspen Bruce
TheBothy Central will be serviced by backpacker employees who will live on site. Photo: Aspen Bruce

“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 into a little fan heater. Although it was only a minute walk from the bus pick up point initially it felt very lonely and isolating at the camp site,” she said.

Ms Raffoni lived there during the August level four lockdown until the end of the winter season.

As at May 2022, the pinch of the accommodation crisis has already begun.

For the upcoming winter only one backpackers will be offering short-term accommodation throughout the season.

Providing staff accommodation for winter workers is the first of this scale for New Zealand’s ski industry.

- by Aspen Bruce

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