There is low availability of houses to rent and buy in National Park for similar reasons as neighboring towns such as Ohakune. A significant proportion of houses in National Park are unoccupied for most of the year, only to be used as holiday homes in winter or rented as short-term tourist accommodation.
“It’s variable and it’s changed over the years. When we were growing up the house stock was taken by workers. There was a mill, Ministry of Works, there was a prison. So the housing stock was pretty much all owned and lived in. And it’s changed over the years to where now most of the housing stock is pretty much holiday homes owned by outsiders. About 70%.”
“That would be about right. Only about 30% of the homes have people in them. And it’s not only the houses it’s the land. And I feel really sad about that. The people who live miles away hold the land and it’s not available for people who want to make this their home. I feel really lucky that we got a little section for our life here before others took it away.”
“We were doing some deliveries for the broadband just before Christmas and it was seven o’clock, a time when you’d expect people to be home and I got just one person. And the rest of the houses were just curtains closed. They fill up for the ski season though some of them are empty year round. I think its families that are you know, historical. Maybe they bought it back in the 60s and they’re older so they might come back for one week in the summer and reminisce about their times in National Park.”
“They can’t rent houses long term because they are holiday homes. They make more money for two days of the week than for a week of a long-term renter. And a renter causes them hassle and drama whereas they can get the two days over the weekend hassle free for the same they’ll get all week. So it robs the village of the people who could make a community.”
“There are a lot of people out here that are currently employed here or at the Chateau area that are only there for short term with families that can’t quite come in. Because they have their families they can’t come in because there’s no sustainability. If housing was more accessible they would absolutely bring their families. They want to be here.”
“Even all those workers they’re trying to find accommodation in winter and they struggle to find accommodation and they end up having to go to Turangi or Taupo and drive in.”
“At the moment for teachers it’s ok, but it could be potentially be a problem (to house teachers) but I would have to rely on my community network to find a place for them to stay. But for someone without those networks it would be hard.”
“There’s two firefighters wanting to come back to work the winter and they can’t find anywhere to live.”
“People end up sharing, crowding into houses. They’re struggling in Ohakune as well. They’re putting them into the lodges but they’re struggling as well. Then we have people travelling from Taihape. It’s a shame because there are more jobs in summer now so they could find work all year and they could settle down, but then the housing is just… a nightmare. Summer is kicking off now.”
Housing quality in National Park is a concern with some landlords not meeting rental standards or changing to rent their houses as holiday lets in order to avoid bringing the standards of the house up to meet the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act.
“I know some renters and the houses are quite cold. It might have changed, but the lines companies were basically saying whatever you used at the peak time you got charged all year. So they were having to say they couldn’t use a heater, they could only use a gas oven and things like that.”
“There were staff put into some of the homes around here that weren’t up to a good standard. Some of the properties are not up to scratch. They just put people in and that is it. There’s a few like that used for staff quarters.”
“And if you use it for short term rental you don’t have to have the same standards. So owners are put off renting their houses, because now if you rent your house it has to be up to a certain standard for insulation but for short term rental you don’t. So they don’t want to pay to make their houses warm and comfortable so they short term rental them and people survive the weekend. Again it adds to the problem. Everyone wants their quick buck; they want their dollar.”
The low occupancy rates of houses in National Park is considered to affect the amenity of town and functioning of the community.
“The streets are pretty empty. They used to be full with lots of kids running around and they’re not now. That community vibe doesn’t seem to exist anymore.”
“Once upon a time, the community, and sadly I don’t know everyone who has come into the area, but when it comes to community things I put my hand up. But it doesn’t make us a community…. It’s sad for me because we used to have blooming streets and our kids would run around the streets. The closeness has separated a little bit.”
“There is a large transient population because of the seasonality of the work but also because they can’t get long term accommodation… There’s nothing to invite them and keep them.”
“If you get more of a stable population you get more things to do. Do you remember basecamp on a Tuesday night? It was a pizza place and it would heave with people on a Tuesday night. It got less and them maybe was not feasible to keep going. There’s not enough people to sustain eating out.”
“The town can’t grow because there’s nowhere for people to stay.”