Outrageous fortune for Westies

By Jane Phare

Ranui is a community of about 10,000 people in West Auckland. Photo / Janna Dixon
Ranui is a community of about 10,000 people in West Auckland. Photo / Janna Dixon

Retired couple Dave and Gill Gould thought they'd have a crack at renting out their West Auckland unit during the Rugby World Cup as "a bit of a joke".

They were somewhat taken aback to find a French mother and daughter snapped up their $800 a week two-bedroom unit in Ranui - a low-cost housing suburb that even gets a hard time from Outrageous Fortune's rough boys Munter and Van.

Compared with Mt Eden villas going for $8000 a week - and luxury Auckland mansions at between $14,000 and $20,000 a week - the Goulds' unit is a bargain, something that will be hard to find during the World Cup.

And while Dave Gould acknowledges that parts of Ranui - where pitbull-cross dogs and car wrecks are as common as birdbaths in Remuera - don't have the best reputation in town, he says his well-appointed unit is in a quiet, rural part of the suburb, not far from the Massey Pony Club.

It was the publicity over World Cup accommodation that gave Gould the idea to rent out his unit.

One site recommended charging between three and four times the normal rent.

"I put it in as a bit of a joke. I thought 'who would want to stay out at Ranui'?"

The Goulds plan to stay at a second home in Tutukaka while their unit is rented.

When the Herald on Sunday visited the Gould's Ranui street, neighbours were startled at the thought of anyone wanting to stay in Ranui during the World Cup. Many, who were renting their homes, said they would have nowhere to go if they moved out.

Within short walking distance is Starling Park where earlier this year a 17-year-old girl and her boyfriend, 19, were brutally attacked at night, leaving them badly injured.

One newcomer (who previously lived in Waimauku, even further to the west) said she couldn't imagine why any visitor would want to live in her street.

The Swanson Railway Station was a 20-minute walk one way, and the Ranui station a 15-minute walk the other way. She said she could think of better places to stay during the World Cup.

But other neighbours said the rural end of Ranui was a quiet, pleasant place to live and they saw little trouble in the way of burglaries or stolen cars.

Homeowner Geoff Coombes said he would definitely think about moving his family out if the money was good enough. "My mortgage is $980 a month so if I could pay off three months of my mortgage and go and stay somewhere else, I'd do it. We've got relatives we could stay with - and we've got a portacot."

Search online and there's no shortage of new rental accommodation websites which have sprung up on the back of the Rugby World Cup, offering houses in the 12 centres hosting the rugby - from Whangarei to Invercargill.

Mt Eden residents living close to Eden Park are in the box seat, with villas and bungalows commanding up to to $8500 a week.

Hugh Calveley who, with business partner Hamish Congalton, launched rental website Stayinnz.com, even listed his own two-bedroom Mt Eden house for $2000 a week, planning to holiday in Coromandel.

Not being close to the stadium hasn't deterred home owners from asking top dollar. An owner of a four-bedroom house in Pakuranga wants $14,000 for two weeks, with the use of a Merc and a Falcon thrown in. And a Northcote mansion - "10 minutes from Eden Park" - with a pool and harbour views is advertised at $14,000 a week.

At the other end of the scale, maraes are getting in on the Rugby World Cup act, selling a kip, kai and culture for between $80 and $180 a night.

Not to miss out on the action, a camp ground at Waitarere Beach on the Kapiti Coast is advertising cabins from $52 a night, pointing out it's a 90 minute-drive from Wellington and 45 minutes to Palmerston North.

Ranui facts

* Ranui was settled by Maori then gumdiggers. Soldiers were given land there after World War I. The population is now nearly 10,000.

* With incomes lower than the national average and crime levels higher, the suburb made the headlines this year when weapon-bearing teen girls robbed a store for ice creams.

* Plans for major housing developments or shopping centres have never eventuated.

* The train trip from Ranui to Eden Park's Kingsland stop takes about 30 minutes.

- Herald on Sunday

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