25 Jan 2017

Slim pickings for Lions Tour beds

9:04 am on 25 January 2017

Rugby fans hoping to catch a game during the British and Irish Lions Tour might be forced to couch surf if they have not already booked accommodation.

2009 British & Irish Lions Tour, Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 23/6/2009
Emerging Springboks vs British & Irish Lions
British & Irish Lions players walk off the pitch after the game 
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Photo: Photosport

Rugby fans hoping to catch a game during the British and Irish Lions Tour might be forced to couch surf if they have not already booked accommodation.

Hotels, motels, backpackers and campsites are already booked out, six months before the team's 10-match tour.

It will be the first time the team has toured New Zealand since 2005, and the games are expected to bring more than 20,000 fans to the country.

With the first game kicking off in Whangarei, against a provincial Barbarian team, most motels and other accommodation in the city are full for the night.

The Pembrooke Motor Lodge's owner, Rick Codlin, said bookings flooded in more than a year ago.

"Pretty much our motel was of interest straight away, particularly groups that were trying to secure block accommodation. I know for a fact that the accommodation in Whangarei is locked down already, and was probably booked out as far back as eight or nine months ago," he said.

It is a similar trend in the other centres the team will play in.

In Auckland, 94 per cent of properties on Booking.com were unavailable on the night of the final test at Eden Park on 8 July.

The one remaining room at the 4-star Auckland Waterfront Apartments came with a price tag of $1000 for the night.

In Wellington, the site said accommodation was 100 percent booked the night of the test match on 1 July.

On Airbnb a two bedroom house in a city suburb will cost $730.

Hospitality New Zealand's Wellington president Jeremy Smith said it was slim pickings for those who did not organise accommodation when the tour was first announced.

"There's not a lot of accommodation left. There may be one or two rooms available between the two games but the Tuesday and Saturday game, everything is fully booked and anyone wanting accommodation is going to have to couch surf or find some alternative means of staying somewhere," he said.

Airbnb's New Zealand country manager, Sam McDonagh, said fans shouldn't be worried as more accommodation was likely to become available in the coming months.

"We'll continue to see right up until the Lions Tour in June and July... listing their homes or spare room on Airbnb and that will provide the opportunity for many, many more people to come to New Zealand and take advantage of the tour."

Mr McDonagh said he expects listings to increase by at least a third in some of the major centres.

"Say in a city like Auckland there are over 6000 listings. We would expect that to continue grow during this period of time towards about 8000, depending on what other events and activities are on. We obviously have the World Masters Games coming up in Auckland later in the year as well."

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