How Tailor Made came about....
Way back in 1992, Michael Midgley and Wilma van den Bosch had the idea for an independent hostel to create “something to do” for Wilma in the small rural community Lake Tekapo, when she arrived from the Netherlands. Having grown up in Napier after relocating to Timaru, Michael looked to Tekapo after a stint working as a loader and a bus driver for Mount Cook Airlines up the road.
The building were previously owned by the New Zealand Electricity Department, but had been abandoned after the completion of Lake Tekapo power station. The decision was made to purchase these and set up on Aorangi Crescent, which was on of the first streets in the Lake Tekapo village. Sparse, except for a handful of houses, the Hostel sported a quiet spot away from the Main Highway; “I use to be able to listen to the cars coming up the road, and could quickly tell if it was a locals car or a new guest arriving - there were only a couple of house that were lived in back then!” Wilma remarks.
Starting out with beds purchased for one dollar from the auction in Timaru, the hostel was quickly developed into a tidy facility with the ability to cater for a large number of travellers. Primarily, the majority of clients were from Germany and Switzerland in the 1990's, with Japanese also making up a large part of the demographic.
“In those days, most of our guests were travelling by bus, or hitch-hiking through New Zealand” says Wilma. Currently, approximately 90% of guests now travel in their own vehicles around New Zealand, with only a very small portion now using other transport.
Hitch-hiking has become noticeably less popular, as with the vast increase in tourism in Tekapo, walk in bookings are becoming less common. “Everything is now pre-booked through email or the internet” mentions Richard, with Wilma lamenting how in the early years, the only pre-booking they would receive would be the occasional beautifully hand written letter!
25 YEARS IN THE MAKING
The backpackers has had a long history with hosting ski teams from around the globe, including the likes
of the National teams from Europe. Located only 30 minutes from the Roundhill Skifield, it has proved an ideal location to base teams as the prepare for large events and Olympic campaigns. These relationships were built over a period of time and guarantee a diversity in travellers that keep the town lively in the winter months.
As the years passed, Michael and Wilma continued to grow the hostel and in 2014 Richard Herrick and Jovana Reisert took over Tailor Made. Jovana has worked for Michael and Wilma from 2009-2012, so was perfectly placed to take over the hostel. And so the next phase of Tailor Made Tekapo began. Many of the rooms have now been modernised to offer a ‘boutique’ style of backpacker and family accomodation, with dorm style rooms to private en-suite accomodation. The rich history of the backpackers take pride of place however, with the identity of Tailor Made being preserved throughout the buildings and grounds.
Keep an eye out for details of the 25th anniversary celebration of Tailor Made Tekapo Backpackers later in the year!