‘Jam-packed and game on’: Queenstown resorts bursting at the seams

Many Queenstown lodgings will be putting out the ‘house full’ signs this weekend. Photo / Supplied, File For Travel Oct-19 NZH 28Dec21 – Queenstown has been the jewel in the crown for tourism in the South Island for years but has been hit hard by Covid-19. Photo / Destination Queenstown

Queenstown is bracing for a huge influx of visitors this weekend, with few empty rooms and restaurants full, having been booked out months in advance.

More than 12,000 people are arriving, along with their support crews, to take part in tomorrow’s New Zealand Queenstown Marathon, being held for the first time since 2020.

The half marathon and 10km run are sold out, while international participants are set to return to the event for the first time in three years and make up 14 per cent of entries.

The Queenstown Marathon has attracted national and international entrants.  Photo / Ross Mackay, File
The Queenstown Marathon has attracted national and international entrants. Photo / Ross Mackay, File

The marathon is expected to pump more than $20 million into the Queenstown economy.

Blue Kanu owner Karen Hattaway said the Church St restaurant had been fully booked for this weekend “for months”.

“What happened, for us, from last year, people just rebooked — they got in and marathoners, I think, are very organized people … there’s just nothing. We’re jam-packed, it’s game on.”

Good Group Hospitality chief operations manager Hamish Klein said it would be “all hands on deck” for the company’s Queenstown operations, which include Botswana Butchery and White+Wong’s, the latter also opening this Sunday.

Good Group Hospitality chief operations manager Hamish Klein.  Photo/Norrie Montgomery, File
Good Group Hospitality chief operations manager Hamish Klein. Photo/Norrie Montgomery, File

“We are very excited … it’s going to be a big weekend.”

Flame co-owner Lou McDowell said it, too, was completely booked this weekend but, like many others, was concerned about the challenges that lay ahead, particularly given predictions of a booming summer.

She described the present situation as “bitter-sweet”, given what the resort had been through over the past couple of years.

“You didn’t have the demand, and now you’ve got the demand and you can’t service it.

“It was a Covid issue, then it was an immigration issue but … now it’s an accommodation issue.”

Flame had leased two houses to be used as staff accommodation, which was, McDowell said, the “only way you can get staff”.

Queenstown Marathon

♦ More than 12,000 entrants.

♦ More female entrants than male: 58 per cent female.

♦ Average age is 38.

♦ 69 per cent taking part for the first time.

♦ 91 per cent traveling to the event from outside the district.

♦ Entrants represent 97 different countries.

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