Official Opening Ceremony Celebrates Contribution of YHA
4 September 2019
Official Opening Ceremony Celebrates Contribution of YHA New Zealand to Lake Tekapo
By YHA New Zealand
Tekapo: The Honourable Jacqui Dean and a host of guests were onsite today to officially open the new YHA Lake Tekapo premises and adjoining gourmet burger bar, Our Dog Friday.
Following a formal welcome and a speech from Ray Salter, Chair of YHA National Board, Jacqui Dean thanked the Youth Hostel Association and Tekapo Hostel Manager, Billy Kerr. “I want to say thank you for having the vision to create such a wonderful facility for us here in Takapō,” Dean said.
“Thank you for making it a pretty easy choice for me to come and stay here… I know that I can pop into the communal kitchen and make myself a cup of tea and there’ll always be somebody to chat to. For somebody who travels a lot, that’s invaluable.”
“I had no idea at what kind of offering Youth Hostels has become,” she continued. “This is a wonderful building.”
Dean enlisted two students from Lake Tekapo School to unveil the official plaque and formally open the new facility. Students from the school closed the proceedings with a small performance.
Completed in April 2019, the $9 million dollar lakefront accommodation has achieved occupancy rates of over 80% for the past two months. Guest feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with the hostel’s review ratings to date averaging over 96%. Online reviewers have labelled the facility “stunning,” “exceptional,” and the “best hostel experience ever.”
Our Dog Friday has maintained ratings of over 91% since its opening and received similarly positive feedback. The gourmet burger bar has proved a welcome addition to the Tekapo dining scene, popular with locals and visitors alike.
The state-of-the art budget accommodation option is helping Lake Tekapo Village accommodate the booming number of tourists visiting the region. Many visitors treat Tekapo as little more than a pit-stop on their South Island road trip, refusing to spend the night because of a lack of affordable accommodation. But the new, larger YHA encourages budget travellers to stay in the village and invest their money in local businesses.
YHA Lake Tekapo expects to deliver 35,000 overnight guests a year. Based on Tourism New Zealand’s estimate that the average visitor spends $175 each day they travel, the hostel represents an economic boost of $6.5 million a year to this small community.
“One of the enduring myths around backpackers is that they’re low-value visitors,” says YHA New Zealand Chief Executive Mark Wells.
“The reality is they stay longer, spend more, and see more regions than most other travellers.”
“The style of accommodation does not dictate the overall spending patterns. Many young tourists are keen to experience as much as they can, so they save their money for activities and longer stays as opposed to luxury accommodation.”
“The village has been struggling to meet demand for people to stay in recent years, which means many visitors simply stop off for a coffee and a photo of the church and then carry on, taking their money with them. That’s why YHA Lake Tekapo is such a welcome addition to the Mackenzie District.”
The $9 million redevelopment has transformed the prime lakefront location on Motuariki Lane. The previous, smaller YHA hostel operated on Simpson Lane with 33 beds from 1965 to 2018, when they closed to the public in order to host construction staff. The development is YHA’s first new hostel build in over 30 years, which reflects the strategic importance of Tekapo as a destination and YHA’s commitment to the community.
The new YHA can accommodate 128 guests across a range of 42 multi-share and private twin or double rooms, including 10 queen ensuites boasting uninterrupted views across the ice-blue water towards the snowy peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps in the distance.
The variety of small dorms and private ensuite rooms are ideal for groups, couples, independent travellers as well as the vital youth sector, who make up a quarter of all visitors to New Zealand.
The accommodation features free WiFi, an in-house laundry, TV lounge, solar hot water and photovoltaic panels. The modern fully-equipped kitchen and lounge area features full-length windows to maximise views of the lake.
The state-of-the-art property has also delivered five jobs to local people across the hostel and the trendy new on-site burger bar, which caters to guests, day-trippers and residents alike.
“YHA is committed to the local community, having operated in Tekapo since 1965” continues Wells.
“Our mission is to encourage people to explore our beautiful country, meet locals and other international travellers, and do as many of the experiences that are on offer. In short, an experience that enriches their lives. What better place to do that than Tekapo.”