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New hostel to cope with huge demand

New hostel to cope with huge demand
The Youth Hostel Association New Zealand is developing a new $9 million hostel in the town to replace its existing facility.

High demand for accommodation in Tekapo has inspired Youth Hostel Association New Zealand (YHA) to develop a new $9 million hostel in the town to replace its existing outdated facility.

Situated in one of New Zealand’s most spectacular locations under an equally stellar night sky in the Mackenzie Country, construction of the new hostel is expected to be completed late this year, just in time for the peak tourist season.

Hostel manager, Billy Kerr, says during the past five years YHA Lake Tekapo has operated year round on 95% to 100% occupancy, even during quieter periods. Some days up to 40 people have been turned away, in addition to online bookings lost due to the lack of beds.

“Five or six years ago The YHA board and CEO identified a growth pattern and a chance for YHA Lake Tekapo and YHA New Zealand to develop.”

YHA Lake Tekapo’s former 40-bed hostel has been closed to guests since construction started October last year because of the need to accommodate construction workers due to a shortage of beds in the town.

It was originally built on land leased from the Mackenzie District Council by YHA members and board members about 1967.

Being on leased land limited the scope of development so the new building is being constructed on a nearby freehold property purchased specifically for the new facility.

“The new hostel is going to be three or four times bigger.”

“We always saw the potential in the numbers that we were turning away, and by looking at research by Christchurch and Canterbury tourism and Mackenzie tourism [promoters]. “Obviously we saw the opportunity to translate that into more beds.”

Since 1967 much has changed in both building specifications and in hospitality, with the expectation of guests now much higher. YHA New Zealand is a carboNZero certifi ed organisation.

The hostel will include solar power and solar heated water and, under the carboNZero programme, will operate under efficient and credible carbon footprint calculations, reporting and reduction.

Construction had to meet the Mackenzie District Council’s requirements for its dark sky reserve.

It will incorporate a burger eatery and bar, a first for a YHA in New Zealand, and has been designed to cater for families as well as individuals and couples.

Twenty private rooms will be included, compared to just three in the old hostel, and it will have 18 to 24 staff compared to the three in the old hostel, including Billy. “It’s an exciting project for Tekapo.”

Billy says any thoughts of a typical YHA guest being a young backpacker travelling on a shoe-string is a misconception, as a wide range of ages and
family groupings stay at YHA hostels.

“For the old hostel we were ranging from 25 to 55 years old as our market, from single people, to couples, newly weds and families.”

These people have researched and planned well and want secure and safe accommodation with good service while they explore New Zealand’s outdoors, he says.

The new hostel was designed by Noel Strez Architects, Christchurch, with construction being managed by One Four Limited, also of Christchurch.

One feature of its design is a high, panoramic window in the lounge area which will maximise the amazing view up Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook, a reflection of an area intrinsic to the former hostel.

This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

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