“Falling out of Love with Queenstown, from Heros to Zeros”

from heros to zeros

Prescheduled for release on 1 January 2016

Another reminder this holiday season that tourists in New Zealand aren’t there to be treated like cash cows, nor should they be ripped-off.

Overseas visitors often find themselves subjected to the ‘tourist tax’ in places like Queenstown, and we all know of the twin pricing that goes on in many NZ resort-towns where locals pay lower charges than visitors.

These towns are exceptionally skilled at parting tourists from their cash, quickly reducing them from heros to zeros as their dollars ebb away. John Key (Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism) once said he wanted his country to attract richer tourists and for them to spend more, it appears that backpackers are still firmly in the “poor quality” category – in Queentown anyway…

Here’s one person’s experience (source), first published on the excellent and fascinating travel blog Straight On  by Rebecca Mayoll*. We recommend it highly to anyone considering travel to New Zealand.

Our plane glided between the mountains, either side of us the ominous protrusions jutted threateningly into the sky but we came to no harm and landed safely, nestled between them. It was an exciting arrival into Queenstown and a sure sign that this was going to be the perfect home of choice.

Or so we thought!

Grabbing a taxi for the 7km to town from the airport we were startled to see the numbers elevating so rapidly. When our total reached $30 dollars Prue exclaimed “that is going up so fast” and our driver evenly explained the huge prices of fuel in New Zealand while flicking the switch with another hand when the numbers touched 40. “There, I’ll keep it at that” he offered and we were glad not to pay any more for the 7 minute ride, at 6 dollars a kilometre it was already extortionate.

Brushing off the cab ride we retreated to our motel but we couldn’t stay inside, we’d just reached our new home land and that begged exploration. Walking into the heart of town we marvelled at the location, embedded between the mountains and beside an enormous lake, it was perfect and call us naive but we just expected that feeling to continue.

We had envisioned our happy home to erupt into our lives, we expected a single house viewing to turn into our rental property, a bank visit to turn into an account and all of the people to be friendly to travellers.

But none of this happened.

Instead we submitted an application for the property in stiff competition with 15 others, the women at the bank scoffed at the fact that we had no solid address and the people were in utter contempt for us.

Backpackers, their look suggested, were hardly welcome here. “But hang on a minute” we said to ourselves, “Queenstown relies on backpackers.” Who else is out there jet boating, sky diving, parasailing and bungee jumping? While being unable to get anyones attention to our plight for a real life we were bombarded with activities, tours, combo packages, best backpacker days out and the “best for your buck adrenaline” activities. Fliers, billboards, chalk boards and touters call at you from every angle, raising your backpacker status from zero to hero in a second, until you’ve paid for one of their rides and then you’re only a hero if you buy the photo.

Had we been travelling through, had we been more monetarily stable and had the woman at the bank not been such a bitch we would have probably loved this place. But in our time of settling down we fully fell in and out of love with Queestown within 48 hours. Moving back into our little tent because all the accommodation was sold out we decided that this was not the place for us.

It’s time to make a new plan!

*The author of “Falling out of Love with Queenstown, from Heros to Zeros” , Rebecca Mayoll, is a ‘just turned 30’ freelance writer and photographer from England. She is the co-founder and author of, a travel website with the mantra ‘find your own adventure.’ Promoting adventurous destinations, independent travel and giving a humorous insight to the World of travel is what Becky does best.

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8 thoughts on “ “Falling out of Love with Queenstown, from Heros to Zeros”

  1. Treating each other like shit is part of the culture in NZ anyway. I’ve lived in several other countries in the past and nowhere else other than NZ have I experienced things like neighbours repeatedly turning on their stereos to a volume so high it keeps up people in 10 different houses, people taking friendliness as a weakness and treating me horribly when I was only trying to make friends with them, and people being made fun of because of their accents. And I’m talking about adults here. This is the kind of behaviour I would expect from teenagers. Yet teenagers in other countries often have a much higher level of maturity than adults in NZ. I hope I’ll be able to move away from NZ soon because I’m not sure how much longer I can cope here.

      • My wife is a Kiwi so I have spent a lot of time sitting in Kiwi expat pubs in London listening to how awful England and the English people are. Living here now I can appreciate that those people were homesick. I can see if you felt homesick (I have felt that way at times) living in NZ it would be a very lonely time as it doesn’t go down well here from my experience. Hence the need to let off a bit of steam on this website much to the disgust of some Kiwis who can’t handle perceived negativity (truthful thinking) and would love to shut this site down.

      • sue4adventure,,

        I live in Gippsland and I can confirm that it’s very easy to become lost in the very dense rainforests here unless people follow a bush track. Some European tourists in the Outback have made fatal mistakes when they have underestimated the effects of extreme heat or dangerous wildlife.
        The Dutch tourist used her brains and didn’t panic, so she survived, she probably coped better in the circumstances than many Australians.

  2. A few weeks after first arriving and exploring New Zealand, I made my way to Queenstown because I had heard fantastic things. I had a similar feeling of disappointment. The scenery surrounding Queenstown is beautiful, but certainly available elsewhere for much lower living costs. I met with a local broker to enquire about the market for buying businesses, but did not really find it fruitful. I also went to a job agency just to start working, keeping busy and avoid having to dip into savings, and meet people. My impression was that there was virtually nothing available work wise and the woman that worked there told me not to be too picky because everyone wanted to work in Queenstown. I looked at a couple rooms to rent temporarily until I found something more permanent and the prices were exorbitant. The prevailing rent was NZ $200 per room in an old house filled with many people. Some Kiwi landlords make money by turning houses into boarding houses.

    I left for Wellington and eventually I left New Zealand for equally nice scenery and far better people and professional opportunities in Switzerland.

  3. Hallelujah!! Finally they have seen the light !

    That’s right Britons and everybody else.. Don’t get ripped of by snobby ungratefull ***

    Yes there is nice scenery but indeed you get better in Asia (bonus warm seawater) intreaging culture, delicious food, low prices and warm friendly people.

    Cause it’s just not only the scenery what makes an holiday or immigration great..

    • The fact that Kiwis talk so much about how wonderful the scenery is in their country, but never mention anything else (except rugby and booze), could be seen as a dead giveaway of what the country offers – almost nothing of any real value.

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