Queenstown's reputation at risk after revelations of workers living in cars

Queenstown is the jewel in our tourism crown but revelations some out-of-town workers are living in their cars is putting its reputation at risk. 

Local businesses are jumping in to help where they can, but the district's mayor admits there's no easy short-term fix.

Queenstown attracts visitors from all over the world, but it's not always so rosy for workers in the tourist town, with some calling carparks home.

"There are still people sleeping in their cars right now and it's probably -2C right now and there's still no immediate fix," Queenstown Housing Initiative co-founder Lindsay Waterfield told Newshub. 

Out-of-town workers are crucial to Queenstown's economy and the district's stepping in to help with a warmer welcome, literally.

"[We] decided that let's just offer it out to some people who need relief from being in their cars or tents for a night or two and make them feel human again," New Orleans Hotel Arrowtown co-owner Kerry Andrews said.

The owners of Arrowtown's New Orleans Hotel offered up their spare rooms, which usually go for $190 at cost price.

"For these people, we're offering it for between $30 or $50 a night depending on their length of stay," Andrews said. 

Skifields are some of the biggest employers during winter with hundreds of workers running the slopes.

This year, NZ Ski has bought its own hostel to help make sure it can get the staff it needs.

"That gives us 72 beds and we're renovating it to give us another 24," NZ Ski chief executive Paul Anderson told Newshub. 

"It just got to a stage now where it was starting to be a detractor from coming to Queenstown." 

The district's mayor acknowledges his town has a problem.

When Newshub asked Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers if he was comfortable with workers sleeping in cars, he said he wasn't.

"No, no I'm not. It's just frustrating, I can tell you now," Lewers told Newshub. 

Some public facilities have been made available at cheaper rates for those in need, but advocates are wanting the council to do more.

"Someone's going to get sick and there's no sense of urgency. Someone might die," Waterfield said. 

"We're trying everything we can, but we've got to follow the legislative process and also our availability for rentals that market has shrunk," Lewers said. 

But they know they must do more to accommodate the workers who keep their tourist town afloat.