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 Detour.com 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 straightondetour.com, 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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