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The availability of houses to rent in Ohakune remains lows, and demand high.

"It's challenging."
"Nigh on impossible."
"Almost impossible."
"There's always a lot of people asking around the place."
"For full time or seasonal, it's just next to impossible."

As in 2020, housing availability was curtailed by the number of houses in the town that were holiday homes or rented out as Airbnb’s meaning that renters often face precarious housing situations. Short term lets were not only considered more profitable by house owners but resulted in less property damage.

"There is a lot of absentee owners who don't want to rent out, long term. Nightly, yes, but not long term."
"I went four years being kicked out a place very six months because, “Oh yeah, we've decided we're going to use it ourselves or Airbnb it.” And that was constant. Yeah, even all during COVID, that was just a constant and that is just the reality. There’s lots of people who are coming into the region, buying a second home with the interest of Airbnbing it."
"It’s more profitable, but I sort of think people perceive it as less damage to their homes. Long term tenants… know someone who has spent the last six months doing their place up because they had long term tenants, and it just needed a full revamp. Whereas renting nightly you know, you've got cleaners going in every day to check."
"Every house around me is a holiday house. I don’t have any neighbours."
"There’s a lot of houses here too that hard-working kiwis have put here that don't rent out. Only just for themselves. That's also a big... they'll just come down when they want to come down. "

New Council social housing units on Moore Street under construction.

Locally, motels were now providing accommodation for seasonal workers or emergency housing:

"The motels are now housing the seasonal workers and the homes are being used as accommodation for weekenders."
"There used to be (demand for motels), I don't know. Currently there is the demand."
"The motels couldn't take the capacity anyway."
"No, but I think there has been a draw from the motels to private homes. So I think the motels are struggling with vacancy. There never used be enough (tourist) accommodation. I always see vacancies."
"It's more competitive now at any rate."
"Or some have pivoted. I think the one that's behind ours has probably slightly changed. There's more long-term people there. Emergency housing now."

As a result of the low availability and high demand, unaffordability, both in terms of rental properties and homes to buy, as well as overcrowding, were noted by participants.

"I feel like with her saying about that people don't want to rent because of damage and stuff, a lot of houses that are rented are only like a two-bedroom house which might cost you $500 or $600 a week, but the family that has been put in there is like a seven, eight, family situation. We have a house in our street with a three bedroom and it was meant to be for Mum, Dad, two kids. And I think there must be 12 people living there. There’s a lot of overcrowding, but I get that whole renting it out is just destroying it because it gets pretty bad."
"$500 or $600 is pretty standard. It's astounding, it’s obscene."
"It goes up in wintertime, it goes up a couple of hundred because people might pay four to seven hundred for one night."
"I got my house rental appraised and it’s three bedrooms, decent sized house and it was only $520."
"We had our house rental appraised and we were told $350? A three bedroom, beautiful, sunny, warm, modern."
"The house that I used to rent which was a bedroom, fine place, but that was over $400."
"I guess the bonus of that is you’re not required to share, whereas when you’ve got a house that is four-bedroom and you just have to throw different people in and they don't know each other."
"$350 is what an Airbnb charges per night."
"A lot of young people, from what I understand, are buying over in Raetihi because they can get in over there."
"They've got all these plans for building new houses and they're making all these new houses but people who live here locally and who are looking for a house, it's just not affordable. It's not affordable to build a house, it's not affordable to buy a house when other people are building and then selling. It's just there's no affordability in the area."

Notwithstanding concerns around affordability, residents of Ohakune felt that housing market was showing signs of change. Uncertainty regarding the sustainability of skiing on Mount Ruapehu was one variable that was considered to potentially impact the housing market:

"I think the price of housing is going to drop dramatically, it's already a little bit. Starting to drop. I think the Mountain has probably got a lot to do with it, the lack of snow last year and they fact that they are in liquidation."
"But the cycle way is coming on now so one door might close but there is definitely a door opening somewhere else. And more people go walking and mountain biking than snowboarding and skiing."
"What I gather through talking to people is there are lots of people listing and a lot of people coming in and offering under asking."
"It’s the uncertainty with the mountain. Higher interest rates. A lot of people went all out buying second home in COVID, all out on their equity and now they can’t afford it. They’re over stretched. Interest rates were 3% back then and now it’s six or seven percent."
"The ones that seem to be selling are those family homes, the affordable family homes. "

Councils Moore Street housing units that have recently been completed in partnership with iwi and Central Government.

Ohakune social housing units on target - Ruapehu District Council (

Participants noticed that since 2020 there has been rapid increase in the number of new houses built in Ohakune which has put pressure on the town’s infrastructure, particularly water.

"There was a…, especially after COVID, when kiwis were spending all their money in-country there was such a big building boom. All the sections that hadn't sold for thirty years, all of a sudden got sold. Look at Lee Street now, it's just all full of houses. And every little pokey little section is... now they're all for sale. Because we haven’t got any land available at the moment. There’s lots of subdivisions on hold, all up the top of the junction there and it’s all because of the work down… what we’re being told at the moment. It’s because of the water works. Our infrastructure can’t keep up at the moment."

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