'Unprecedented' accommodation demand hits Queenstown

'Unprecedented' accommodation demand hits Queenstown

A huge increase in tourism is putting serious pressure on accommodation in Queenstown as demand far outstrips supply, and that's also shutting families and seasonal workers out of the market.

With more than 2 million people visiting Queenstown each year, finding beds for them all is increasingly difficult.

The new Ramada Hotel at Remarkables Park is the first to open in five years.

"Well overdue for Queenstown, which is experiencing unprecedented demand," Ramada Remarkables Park general manager Greg Ewen said.

Fifteen minutes from downtown Queenstown, Remarkables Park is one of the next big growth areas, with two more hotels on the way, along with other ambitious plans.

"You're going to see here the five-star hotels going along the waterfront, conference centre proposed here, and the gondola to Queenstown Park Station and to the ski fields," Porter Group chief executive Alastair Porter said.

More than $400 million worth of residential and commercial construction is underway in the resort, but strong demand is pricing locals out of the market.

"The residential market has increased significantly. There's huge demand at the moment and limited supply. Rental rates have increased. And it's becoming very, very difficult for a family to live in Queenstown," Colliers property valuer John Scobie said.

This is one of four special housing areas announced by the Government, fast-tracking the process to rezone areas as residential. That could see a school site used for affordable housing and high-density worker accommodation.

"It's not a controversial piece of land. It's not in a prime area in Queenstown, but it is very close to town. It'll help with the transport strategy as well," Clutha MP Todd Barclay said.

It's an option, too, for seasonal workers, with boarding rooms these days replaced by Airbnb, and hostel beds taken by tourists.

"We're working with a few developers at the moment. And, for me, it's about the major employers in town, pooling our demand, and then going to some developers and asking them to come up with some great solutions," NZ Ski chief executive Paul Anderson said.

Those are solutions that can't come soon enough for this red-hot tourist town.