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The Wānaka App

Winter rental market takes a turn

The Wānaka App

Maddy Harker

03 July 2024, 5:04 PM

Winter rental market takes a turnWhile more houses for rent might sound like good news for renters, prices are up. PHOTO: Supplied

Long-running winter rental supply shortages appear to have taken a turn this season.

Last winter Home & Co director Colleen Topping told the Wānaka App each winter felt “a bit like groundhog day”.

There would be a big influx of people arriving in Wānaka for the season and not enough rentals to house them.

But this winter the supply of rentals has increased significantly, with “quite a lot” of listings, some of them sitting on the market for months.

A search of rental properties listed on this week shows 36 local properties listed.

Wānaka’s rental supply has increased this winter. PHOTO: Wānaka App

Colleen said there were two main factors she had noticed contributing to the increase in supply.

“We’ve been approached by people who haven’t been able to sell - either they haven’t been able to achieve the price they wanted or haven't had interest, and they’ve been bringing their houses to us to rent,” she said.

Others are people who have been renting their properties via Airbnb who are turning to longer-term rentals for a couple of reasons, she said.

A new rule came into effect in April which makes Airbnb stays now subject to GST, reducing the return for hosts, and Colleen said she was also hearing that advance Airbnb bookings have been low this winter.

Ray White Wānaka owner Duncan Good said it was well known across Queenstown and Wānaka that forward bookings on Airbnb have dropped as people are being more careful about spending.

“People are feeling the punch dollar wise and saving their pennies and watching the conditions,” he said.

While more houses for rent might sound like good news for renters, prices are up.

Duncan said the average locals rent had increased 15 percent in the last year, noting that it was at odds with sales prices, which had stayed “relatively flat”.

A local woman who asked not to be named said she recently moved into a Wānaka rental property with her family after selling their house.

She said finding somewhere to live was “really easy and quick” but the prices were “horrendous”.

“We ended up paying over a hundred dollars more [per week] than we expected,” she said.

“The cold and hideous houses were still really expensive.”

While she was pleased to find somewhere fast, having expected much more competition, she said the family was “paying for it” with high rent.


Colleen said owners wanting to achieve high rent prices for their houses was playing a role in the fact some listings were sitting on the market for a long time.

“In some cases there is supply but it is not at the right price point,” she said. 

She said she noticed supply slowly increasing in summer and autumn but it is in recent months that the properties have become harder to fill.

“I think people who want to rent their houses out will have to respond to the market.”

Nationally, rental listings increased 40 percent in the three months to May but the number of rental seekers has increased by just 2.5 percent.