1493697023567 - Hundreds of Queenstown ski workers scrambling for a bed

Hundreds of Queenstown ski workers scrambling for a bed

A Queenstown skifield operator is appealing for locals to open up their homes to hundreds of employees who don’t have a place to live.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson calculated about 250 employees set to come into Queenstown in the next month did not yet have a place to stay and a lack of affordable accommodation in the resort made tough for those people.

“It’s definitely getting tighter as the staff are coming into town. They are increasingly finding it more difficult to find accommodation.”

The company employed about 900 staff to work at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski areas, of which about half were locals. The other 450 had to find their own accommodation and as of Tuesday about 200 had, Anderson said.

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People didn’t want to live outside Queenstown if they were coming to work for a short period of time so using places like Cromwell to house staff – which was offered last year and failed – was not an option, he said.

“Part of the attraction is living in Queenstown and experiencing what Queenstown has to offer.”

NZSki’s solution was to ask the public for help via Facebook.

So far about 60 beds had been offered to incoming workers, Anderson said. They needed more.

The company had set up a private Facebook group to link potential accommodation providers with employees.

“Really we’re simply acting as a broker. They [home owners] ring us and we then make the place or room available on a closed Facebook page.”

It was then left to the employees and accommodation provider to haggle over the offer.

Last month Stuff found potential Queenstown employees had resorted to posting creative, resume-like spiels on social media to try and get an edge on other workers also trying to rent a room.

“175cm, 70kg of American man available this winter. Do you have private storage space for a man of this size?” 24-year-old American Chris Romano, 24, wrote.

Anderson said “destination resorts” often experienced huge demand for accommodation, the difference being that places like Whistler and Aspen in the United States were year-round so it was economical for the skifields to invest in worker accommodation themselves.

At this point it wasn’t viable for NZ Ski to build their own worker accommodation, but the company was in talks with developers and other employers in Queenstown to find a solution for the future, Anderson said.

“[Ski workers] are pretty resourceful and they usually do find their way,” he said.

In Wanaka, 67 kilometres away, seasonal workers were looking for housing too but the situation was probably not as challenging as Queenstown, Cardrona Alpine Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky said.

“We seem to be coping really well still. The main reason we are coping is the community. They come to us [with accommodation offers].”

Cardrona’s focus was keeping staff long-term, Legnavsky said.

“Getting them to a point where they want to stay and buy a house is important for us.”

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