A $50 bond just for New Zealanders has been introduced at Mount Backpackers as a means of curbing bad behaviour by Kiwi guests.
Owner Jo Veale made the decision a few weeks ago following a spate of incidents bad for business, which only involved nationals.
“We've only had the bond for four or five weeks,” says Jo. “I took over in February, and we had a normal run of bad behaviour – nothing unusual in a hostel. But we realised it was only Kiwis causing problems.”
She says given New Zealanders are such a small part of the hostel's market, she initially made the decision to bar them completely.
“We had a policy of international passport holders only, which worked well. But after discussions with the Human Rights Commission, we realised we couldn't do that.
“They said we could say to people their personal hygiene or appearance doesn't meet our standards, but I thought that was too confrontational, and not particularly kind.”
Jo says many of the problems can be described as ‘low-level', mostly to do with general messiness and laziness. But some of the behaviour has been offensive, or just plain disgusting.
“We had a girl come down from Auckland who had sex outside on the balcony and carried it on into a ten bed dorm room,” says Jo.
“We had three tourists check out as a result, and lost $300 – and this girl couldn't care less. And yet she wouldn't behave that way in her own house.
“We also had some med students down from Auckland, and one of them ended up smearing their faeces all over the bathroom and vomiting in five different places.”
She says it's not unusual for overseas hostels to refuse to accommodate nationals.
“It's a tourism business, it's not short-stay accommodation or a cheap place to stay.”
Thus far, the bond system seems to be having a real effect, with Jo reporting she hasn't had to keep one bond yet.