Rotorua filling up fast for Raggamuffin

By Alison King

1 comment

It's not quite the Hilton, but Pacific MMA is offering a different sleeping arrangement for this weekend's Raggamuffin.

The gym on Maisey Place, Fairy Springs, is one of many accommodation options sought by the thousands of people heading to the two-day Rotorua reggae festival.

Accommodation is rapidly filling up for Friday and Saturday nights, with backpacker accommodation fully booked and motels following suit.

The Pacific MMA gym, owned by TJ Marsters, is offering space for up to 25 people to sleep in the building with transport to and from the Rotorua International Stadium. It is among a range of alternative accommodation options snapped up by festival-goers, ranging from motels through to spare rooms or tent space in gardens.

"We know there's a lot of people coming to Rotorua for Raggamuffin and lots of people leave it to the last minute to sort out accommodation," said Pacific MMA admin manager Khristal Marsters.

"My friend rents out his garden at Huia St, and my nan, who lives on Hunt Cres, has people staying there. There are always people wanting a room."

The difference between a mate's couch and the Pacific MMA gym is that the fighting cage and boxing ring are among the places to lay down a bed roll and go to sleep.

"Our kids sleep in the cage when they have a sleepover," Mr Marsters said.

The accommodation is open to anyone aged over 18.

Rotorua Association of Motels chairwoman Fiona Suurenbroek said there were still some vacancies but member motels were expecting to fill up closer to the weekend.

"I think people are leaving things to the last minute," she said.

Cactus Jack Backpackers manager Dan O'Connor said they were fully booked, as were other backpackers.

"A lot of people have been booked out for the last few months," he said.

"Our biggest problem is a lot of people are ringing up and asking where there are vacancies, but we don't have a clue."

There are 12,500 beds available in Rotorua through commercial accommodation providers, but Raggamuffin festival organiser Jackie Sanders said festival-goers tend to leave booking accommodation to the last minute.

Homestay network Look After Me has also been inundated with inquiries from guests seeking affordable accommodation for this weekend.

Founder Dr Julia Charity said they could have filled some of the rooms "three times over". "New rooms are being added to the site daily, so guests should keep checking to see what has become available."

Look After Me is seeking homeowners with guest rooms or sleepouts to help fill the demand.

Dr Charity thinks demand will increase rapidly this month, not only for Raggamuffin, but in the lead-up to Te Matatini and the Rotorua Bike Festival.

Look After Me is an online homestay network, which matches accommodation hunters with like-minded people. Founded on the principle of manaakitanga (hospitality), rooms range from marae-style mattresses in lounges through to guest wings in exclusive lake-edge properties.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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