A Kaitaia backpackers' lodge where the owner drugged and indecently assaulted 19 male guests has new owners and a bright new future.

Mainstreet Lodge in Kaitaia has been sold, with new owners Daniel Fasnacht and his partner Stefanie Ruscigno renaming it Beachcomber Lodge. They already own the Beachcomber Restaurant across the street.

Michael Harris was jailed last July for eight years for drugging and indecently assaulting 19 male guests at Mainstreet Backpackers between 2005 and 2014.

Any lingering doubts about buying the former Mainstreet Lodge in Kaitaia disappeared when Mr Fasnacht met the resident cat.


Having displayed a certain aloofness in the company of real estate agents, Lucy greeted Mr Fasnacht with relative enthusiasm, to the point of allowing him to pat her. The deal was soon done, with Lucy taking the role of the new owners' most important chattel.

They new owners have appointed Wayne Kipa, raised at Oruaiti and back in the North after 10 years in Auckland, as manager.

Mr Fasnacht (Swiss) and Ms Ruscigno (Italian) were working in Switzerland - he as a vice-director at a five-star hotel, she as team leader at an Italian restaurant - when they decided to follow his parents - Roly and Martha Fasnacht, proprietors of Carneval Ocean View luxury accommodation at Cable Bay - to the Far North of New Zealand.

The process of taking ownership of the lodge was formally completed when Pineaha Murray blessed the premises, and all who will work and stay there.

"This is still a lovely place," Mr Murray said of the property, but a lot had happened since it was built. Some of what had happened had not been nice, but he was there to take away any bad vibrations.

"Let us burn all that so this place is as white as snow and as sinless as a wood pigeon. May everyone be blessed when they come, and when they leave. Let all the bad be gone. No more."