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Keeping busy . . . The new owners of Oamaru Backpackers Gong Yaempongsa and Karrie Pai-Roah are looking forward to international travel opening up again.

For already busy Oamaru restaurateurs Karrie Pai-Roah and Gong Yaempongsa, branching out into accommodation was not really on their to-do list.

But an opportunity too good to pass up came along.

The Bangkok Recipe owners have taken just taken over at Oamaru Backpackers, mostly because they loved the building, Miss Pai-Roah said.

“So we just went ahead and bought it.”

The business is in Tees St, and perfectly located for guests to be treated to Oamaru’s harbour views, they said.

In the long term, the couple would love to relocate the restaurant nearby, but that would probably still be a way off.

“We will just keep renovating and updating stuff here, to make it better, ready for the border when it opens. Then we will obviously have travellers coming to visit again. At the moment, it’s very quiet,” she said.

The couple, who are both from Thailand, came to New Zealand to study, gaining their diplomas in tourism management.

They worked in the accommodation industry in Queenstown for five years, before moving to Oamaru, so are not completely new to the game.

“We moved here to run the restaurant, and now we have an opportunity to run this place too.”

The pair have grown to love Oamaru, although at first they missed the busyness of their Queenstown lifestyle.

“Once I got to know the place, it’s very arty and has character. And we’ve got penguins .. that made this town even better.”

They are looking forward to international travel starting again and welcoming “real backpackers” from around the world.

“They appreciate a place so much, rather than just thinking rate’. They just appreciate everything more. So I quite enjoy that,” she said.

Mr Yaempongsa said the two of them had travelled and stayed in many places.

“But when we first came to this place, it’s like, really special … It has a really nice feel about it,” he said.

Because business at the backpackers is slow at the moment, the couple manage everything themselves, running the backpackers during the day, and the restaurant at night.

“We are very small, with not many rooms. So it’s quite easy to manage,” Miss Pai-Roah said.

The place had two triple rooms, one double, one single, one dorm room, and a private room with four single beds.

“The dorm room is very special. It’s super famous. Like, Oamaru Backpackers is in the top 10 in New Zealand, because of the dorm room,” she said.

The room has solid built-in bunk beds, each bed with its own private USB port, reading light and curtain.

Guests of the backpackers are also able to help themselves from the vege garden, or from the apple trees on the premises.