Busi­ness of­fers vis­i­tors more op­tions

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - LAWRENCE GULLERY

A stint work­ing at Hob­biton pro­vided the in­spi­ra­tion for a new ac­com­mo­da­tion venture just opened in Mata­mata.

Damian Bar­doul had worked on the shear­ing show at Hob­biton about five years ago when he no­ticed an open­ing in the ac­com­mo­da­tion mar­ket for trav­ellers.

He sought some ad­vice on the ac­com­mo­da­tion tourism industry from a friend but it didn’t move any fur­ther along un­til ill health struck in 2013.

‘‘I got back into dairy farm­ing but then I got crook. I had leukaemia and was in hos­pi­tal for about a year. I lost a lot of weight, about 20kgs. When I got out I tried go­ing back to dairy farm­ing but it was just too hard on me.

‘‘It’s not a sob story but I just de­cided I had to find some­thing else to do, I couldn’t work on the land any­more.’’

Bar­doul, who grew up in Mata­mata, met his wife-to-be, Lau­ren Hil­horst just be­fore he be­came ill. He men­tioned the idea of set­ting up a back­pack­ers ac­com­mo­da­tion to her as a busi­ness venture for the cou­ple to ex­plore. They re­searched the industry and the re­sults showed there was a niche mar­ket for af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for trav­ellers in Mata­mata.

Bar­doul dis­cov­ered de­vel­oper Bruce Ma­gan had al­ready put a plan in to build a back­pack­ers ac­com­mo­da­tion on Firth St.

‘‘So I called Bruce and said I was keen to jump on board and be part of it all.’’

The Mata­mata Back­pack­ers opened its doors last week. It can ac­com­mo­date up to 44 peo­ple, via 10 dor­mi­to­ries. There is also an op­tion for rooms con­fig­ured for cou­ples and also a ‘‘fe­male only’’ dorm, if that’s what trav­ellers pre­fer.

‘‘I didn’t think the [cou­ples] dorm would get a lot of use but so far it’s been re­ally pop­u­lar. It has a dou­ble bunk bed on the bot­tom and a sin­gle on top.’’

Bar­doul said he and Lau­ren are look­ing for­ward to meet­ing trav­ellers as the dis­trict heads into the busy tourism sea­son over the next cou­ple of months.

De­vel­oper Bruce Ma­gan said he bought the prop­erty for the ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness venture about a year ago.

He said it’s lo­ca­tion was ideal for trav­ellers, be­ing close to the Mata­mata iSite centre and to eater­ies around town.

He also thought it would en­cour­age vis­i­tors to stay longer and ex­plore more of Mata­mata af­ter vis­it­ing places like Hob­biton. ‘‘It’s what back­pack­ers want and will meet all of their ba­sic needs while stay­ing in Mata­mata.’’

PHOTO: REXINE HAWES/FAIR­FAX NZ

Damian Bar­doul and Lau­ren Hil­horst man­age the new Mata­mata Back­pack­ers.

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