Business offers visitors more options
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.’’
Damian Bardoul and Lauren Hilhorst manage the new Matamata Backpackers.