Beyond the Beehive: Queenstown

We had a hole in our bathroom floor like that big, with the door over it. We had an oven that didn’t
work for about six months. Everyone was paying like $150, sharing rooms, living
on top of each other. Queenstown is facing its own housing crisis. If tourism is becoming this country’s keystone industry, I suppose
Queenstown is its Mecca, but with that comes low
wages for young workers, ridiculous property prices and not much in the way of rentals. The city’s mayor, Jim Boult, is well aware of the challenges the
picturesque town is facing. Queenstown is near officially the most expensive part of New
Zealand for real estate. That certainly causes problems for just ordinary folk wanting to live here and have a house here. Young people particularly, who don’t have money saved or equity
out of another house. Average house price is north of a million dollars. People come from the far side of the world to work here. Many are paying a high price to live in substandard housing. Meg moved here two years ago. There’s about 25 of us. In one house? In one house, we had a cardboard window. In our living room for the
year that I lived there, we had a hole in our
bathroom floor like that big with the door over it. We had an oven that didn’t
work for about six months. Everyone was paying like a $150, sharing rooms, living
on top of each other. Yeah, it was quite a lot, it was good. We had a cat though, so that was alright. Then I moved in to another
house of about 26 people. But the landlord was better, there’s no cardboard windows or broken floors. So that wasn’t so bad, and now I’m in a nice house. There’s still like 10 of us in it. Oh, 10 that’s a real improvement. Yeah, but it is an improvement, yeah. It’s got heating and stuff, so. Expensive? Can’t complain. I pay, I’ve shared rooms the entire time. I’ve paid about $150
in all of the houses to share a room.
And that’s shared rooms? Yeah. Yea yea yea, so. But it’s worth it to live here? Absolutely. Paul moved his family of 14 to Queenstown six months ago. It was pretty extremely difficult with the amount of people just coming in for seasonal jobs. If you think Queenstown needs something in terms of the housing situation, what’d you reckon it is? Maybe, big staff accommodation for the bigger companies that operate. Everybody knows that that’s the situation when you come down here. But you’re here just for this. Yeah, just bite the bullet and live and try to survive. It’s a struggle, yeah. We’ve taken shelter in the camper van for a few hours while it absolutely buckets down outside. In the mean time, I want to look up what sort of prices people looking to rent a room in Queenstown
might expect to pay. So these are suburbs that are in pretty close
proximity to Queenstown, $360 per week in Goldfield Heights. $250 per week in Fernhill. $250 per week in Arrowtown. $300 a week in Lower Shotover. Kelvin Peninsula, that’s a 5 minute drive, $300 per week there. It is not cheap. Rosie Hill has worked as an environmental lawyer in
Queenstown for two years. The cost of living here is probably a lot higher than in other
parts of New Zealand. I mean, basic things like
petrol and groceries here are generally more expensive and the wages can be a lot lower in a lot of industries. And then there’s obviously
the housing market which everyone talks about here. Almost like you’ve sort of get sick of hearing about it everyday. But it is such a problem
on people’s minds. I think it’s not just the fact that the houses that are available are unattainable to young families, or young people working here, but it’s also the fact
that there isn’t enough, and there’s no new land and housing coming
on the market regularly to sort of balance that supply and demand. Both National and Labour have promised to build new houses here, but Jim Boult knows things
have to start moving sooner rather than later. The council is keen to
work with developers. We’ve got some ideas around student hall of residence style accommodation. And a couple of developers
are keen to proceed with that. Council is working very
proactively with those developers to try to achieve that. Two or three of those
might see quite large properties built, maybe 300-400 beds. That would go a long way
towards fixing the problem. As Queenstown continues to boom, Rosie Hill says there are
other issues to think about. My generation, we’re really charged with the responsibility of taking Queenstown from what’s always been sort of a small, probably used to be a rural community, and soon it’s gonna become a city. And I think that’s gonna
happen sooner than we think. The growth projections here are massive, so we really need to
responsibly think about things like our environmental
social conscience, how we can implement measures in our planning regime in particular to ensure that our natural
environment is protected and that we can also have a livable city. People come here because
of our natural environment. Look around and we live in one of the most amazing places in the world. But if we don’t respect
that and protect that, then that tourism base, it’s not gonna be there forever.


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