Sky-high rent forces Wanaka locals into 'shanty town' campsite

A lack of affordable accommodation is forcing some people in the Central Otago town of Wanaka to make their home in a campground.

But it's drawing the ire of locals, who say they're in breach of local by-laws and making the area an eye sore.

A tent beneath beech trees in the Albert Town campground has been home for Cassandra Watson for the last six months.

It's all the 49-year-old Wanaka local can afford - demand for accommodation in the Central Otago town has left her with no choice.

"You've got big long waiting lists you've tourists that come in, and they'll pay six months' rent in advance plus all the fees - so that's what we've got to compete against," Ms Watson said.

She pays $49 a week to stay in the campground, while a search of TradeMe reveals there are just five properties for rent in the area - all costing around $600 a week.

Ms Watson is not alone; Liam Anderson works as a tradie in Wanaka and has been living at the campground for four weeks - he too couldn't afford the rent in town.

"I've got family here and they're all sort of coming back and I want to be around them, and so I thought one of the options was to get a caravan and find a place to park it," he said.

The Albert Town Community Association is sympathetic to their plight, but says the campground - which has no running water, just two toilets, and isn't set up for permanent residents - is turning into a shanty town.

"We have evidence or reports of people who've come down here to use this area quite legitimately, getting into little verbal spats with one or two of these campers," said the community association chair Jim Dowie.

"[They] see those people wanting to swim and picnic down here as interfering in their personal area."

It is now up to the Queenstown Lakes District Council to decide if the campers can stay.

For Ms Watson, there are no plans of moving on as she has nowhere else to go.