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Leisure tourism growth spurs backpacker lodge sale

Leisure and adventure tourism growth spurs backpacker lodge sale

Capitalising on the growth of tourists’ passion for eco’ tourism, the Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers is on the market for sale

The opening of two major new tourist attractions and the growing popularity of deep space star-gazing are being seen by a long-time South Island tourism operator as the ideal catalyst to retire from the business.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail which opened earlier this year in the Central South Island; the Tekapo Springs thermal resort, ice skating rink and snow park which opened in 2012; and Earth and Sky tours at Mt John Observatory, are jointly forecast to substantially increase visitor numbers to the Central South Island region.

The cycle trail is a 300 kilometre four-six day ride from Aoraki Mount Cook to Oamaru via the townships of Twizel, Omarama, Kurow and Lake Pukaki.

Meanwhile, Tekapo Springs features three hot pools shaped to replicate the region’s lakes – Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo. The state-of-the-art pools feature massage jets and fountains. An outdoor ice rink opens from April to September, with a 150 metre long snow slope dedicated to tobogganing and snow tubing. And next month the venue is opening the world’s largest inflatable waterslide.

Rounding out the region’s growing list of attractions is New Zealand’s premier space observatory on Mt John. The Tekapo region around the stardome was last year bestowed with Dark Sky Reserve Status for the clarity of its night sky viewing – which attracts tens of thousands of people wishing to see such inter-planetary phenomenon as meteor showers, satellite galaxies or ‘zodiacal lights’ at the Mt John Observatory. Tourism operator Earth and Sky works together with the University of Canterbury to provide guided night sky tours at the Mt John Observatory.

Servicing users of all three tourism enterprises is Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers which has been owned and operated by Wilma van den Bosch and Michael Midgley for nearly 21-years. With growing numbers of visitors now passing through the town, van den Bosch and Midgley have decided to hand over the reins of their accommodation business to a new owner to take advantage of the opportunities.

The Tailor-Made-Tekapo lodge buildings were originally built for the New Zealand Electricity Department engineers and construction crews working on the Waitaki hydro-electric scheme in the 1950s. The buildings sit on 2948 square metres of land.

Tekapo is located mid-way between Queenstown and Christchurch. Daily bus services operate between Mt Cook and Christchurch/Queenstown, with shuttle transport servicing Tekapo.

The Tailor-Made backpacking business is adjacent to the Tekapo Community Centre with its three astro-turf tennis courts which double up as netball courts and hockey pitches. The hall has future expansion plans to include a squash court and swimming pool.

The business, buildings and land are being sold by Bayleys Canterbury – with offers being taken until November 7. Bayleys Canterbury business broker Kate Mullins said that after building up and running the budget accommodation enterprise for 21 years, Ms van den Bosch and Mr Midgley were selling up to spend more time with their family.

“The culmination of the opening of the cycle track, and the year-round attraction of the hot springs, snow park and Mt John Observatory, are the perfect opportunity to execute an exit strategy for Wilma and Michael. They realise though that it’s important to ‘leave something in the pot’ for incoming owners to take advantage of,” Ms Mullins said.

“The evolution of cycling-based enviro’ tourism has mushroomed over the past four years – with the Central Otago Rail Trail pioneering the way, followed by the establishment of the Hauraki Rail Trail in the Coromandel, the Old Ghost Road trail linking Mokihinui and Lyell with the coalmining ghost town of Denniston at the north-western corner of the South Island, and of course the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail,” Ms Mullins said.

“For destinations like Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, there has been growth in new target markets – from what was once purely scenic tourism into the realms of adventure tourism, particularly over the summer months and shoulder periods either side.

“Tekapo Springs and Earth and Sky compliment the cycle trail by offering non-competitive attractions. In effect, multiple reasons to visit the area. The relative remoteness of Tekapo in relation to other large service towns means travelers to the area tend to stay in the township at the conclusion of their sight-seeing or leisure activities – particularly those coming in the for night viewing at the observatory.”

Ms Mullins said the 16-bedroom lodge was configured for a range of guest numbers – ranging from double rooms with en-suites, triple or quad rooms, through to a six-bed dormitory.

Tailor-Made Tekapo Backpackers is part of the BBH hostel network. Room rates range from $29 per person in the dormitory or $84 for a double or twin room with en-suite bathroom, through to $124 per night for the quad room. The Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers is located 300 metres from the centre of town.

The business employs one fulltime manager and three part-time staff in housekeeping, reception and cleaning capacities. A four-bedroom owner’s dwelling and staff residence is immediately across the road. Ms Mullins said that while the dwelling was not part of the backpacker business being offered for sale, it could be bought subject to negotiation.

Infrastructure within the main grounds includes a Skyline garage, garden implement tool shed, and laundry. The lodge’s gardens are landscaped to include a shingle-base car park, concrete pathways, stone retaining wall, children’s swings, and a barbeque area.

“With the demographic of backpackers evolving from being purely budget conscious travelers, into those with a bent toward eco’ tourism, there is the opportunity to bolt on additional services to the core accommodation business,” she said.

“Alternatively, with some internal refurbishment, the property could re-grade some of the accommodation rooms slightly upmarket into the ‘flashpacker’ bracket which commands a premium well above dorm style rooms.”


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