Wanaka backpackers to open for seasonal ski workers

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

With a capacity of more than 210 people, rent ranging from $180 to $200, Bothy Central will use the former Base Backpackers which will open June 1.

The terms of the lease were agreed this week.

Refurbishments and alternations began to meet the rapid deadline.

TheBothy owner Dave Brown said he saw firsthand the need for accommodation for seasonal workers in Wānaka.

“Providing safe, secure and warm accommodation for seasonal workers takes Wānaka to a world level of staff welfare,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown said Bothy Central will be served by backpacker staff who will live on site.

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

“We are delighted to be able to offer affordable accommodation for our whānau this season, especially in such a central location in Wānaka, right next to the supermarket and staff transport shuttles.”

The new staff accommodation provides respite from some of the longstanding pre-season stresses, such as finding affordable accommodation.

Historically, seasonal workers have embraced creative solutions such as hostel hopping when housing is unavailable.

In early June 2021, former Cardrona employee Molly Raffoni moved to Wānaka and said it was too late to find 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.

“It was basically a small, unfurnished, uninsulated box. Because I had my van, I could use the van bed and grab some wooden pallets behind New World as a bed frame and I invested in a small fan heater. Although it is only a one minute walk from the bus pick up point, it felt very lonely and isolated at the campsite,” she said.

Ms Raffoni lived there during the Tier Four lockdown from August until the end of the winter season.

In May 2022, the pinch of the housing crisis has already begun.

For next winter only one backpacker will be offering short term accommodation throughout the season.

The staff accommodation for winter workers is the first of this scale for the ski industry in New Zealand.

– by Aspen Bruce

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