Staying off the beaten track

May 3rd, 2017 | By | Category: Latest News, Local People

A Matangi couple have launched a website to take holidaymakers off the beaten track and into rural accommodation.

The premise is simple. There’s a wealth of beautiful spots on private land in New Zealand, and land owners could share this with holidaymakers for a fee.

“Not everyone wants to holiday with a thousand other people at one of the hot spots,” said founder Michele Connell.

The site will allow farmers to offer accommodation to tourists in a manner similar to Airbnb, which offers people an online platform to list accommodation for short-term rental, reports Thomas Manch on Stuff Travel.

Roy and Michele Connell hope to be the Airbnb of out-of-the-way places.[Photo: Fairfax]

Airbnb is said to have more than three million listings, largely in cities, in nearly 200 countries.

Connell thinks they’ve struck an untapped niche in rural accommodation, and the couple are surprised no one else has beat them to it.

“That’s why we acted so quick, because if we don’t do it, someone else will.”

Off The Beaten Track received registrations of interest from 600 holidaymakers and 150 land owners prior to its launch three weeks ago, but it’s yet to receive its first booking.

“That first booking is going to be pop the champagne time.”

And encouraged by the response, she has Airbnb-scale schemes.

“I do want world domination, that’s my end goal.”

It’s a service that could help an over-burdened accommodation market, while providing farmers with a passive income, she says.

The company will earn a small margin through a fee applied to each transaction between land owners and holidaymakers.

Connell, director of the events company which runs Balloons Over Waikato, had the idea while watching Country Calendar with her dairy-farming husband, Roy.

The show featured a bush-laden farm, only enjoyed by a family of four. A shame, Roy thought.

Accommodation options could include any nook and cranny of a farm that suits, a woodshed, barn, or just a spot to pitch a tent.

Additional experiences on offer might include milking a cow, farm tours, and the mountain bike trails on one interested bloke’s land.

“The idea is that it’s totally up to the farmer, a lot of people want that rustic opportunity.”

Already prices on the website range from $20 a night in a tin hut, to $200 a night in an Otago stone cottage.

Lakes to deer

Farmer Nicky King is currently listing the accommodation on her 5000-acre block which backs on to Fiordland National Park, in the South Island.

“We have got literally everything, from lakes to deer. We just want to share the whole thing, because it’s such an amazing spot.”

Sitting 24km from the nearest town, King’s farm has 16km of native bush boundary, along with 14,000 sheep, beef cattle and deer on the land.

It’s close to jetboating, helicopter trips and a Great Walk, promising exactly what Off The Beaten Track hopes to offer.

“We’re envisaging having 15 campsites along the river – obviously, this will depend on weather conditions – and we’ve got huts as well.”

It’s not about the money, King says. That will help maintain the infrastructure, and buy toilet paper.

“We’re just wanting to share it really, we’re really passionate about where we live. We’re right down the south-western corner of New Zealand – literally off the beaten track.”

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