"Bluff New Zealand" has a new
meaning for some Chinese tourists.
But the tour operator spoke Mandarin…
"A group of Chinese tourists say a rogue tour operator in Auckland promised them visits to farms, geyser parks and buffet dinners – but instead took them to free public facilities and charitable events, including the City Mission’s annual Christmas dinner.
Ming Xi, a visitor from Wuhan, said he and 10 other Chinese tourists were taken to the City Mission lunch by the tour leader, who told them the event was an annual "buffet treat" the New Zealand Government organised for citizens and visitors.
Their presence at the dinner – intended for people unable to afford a Christmas meal – caused widespread outrage when it was revealed.
Mr Xi, who is in his 50s, arrived last month as part of a tour group on a four-day North Island tour.
He decided to extend his visit to "experience how Christmas was celebrated in a Western country".
He was approached by the Mandarin-speaking tour leader as he left the i-Site Visitor Information Centre in Quay St, Auckland, the week before Christmas and offered a discounted daily rate of $88 a person for the tour, which included meals and all activities and entry charges.
Mr Xi had other tour brochures, but this operator said he could do the same tours for less than half the price.
The itinerary would include visits to a wildlife reserve, a farm park, gardens and a geyser park, and meals would include a Kiwi barbecue, a cultural dinner and a grand Christmas buffet.
"I thought it was a real bargain, but the main reason we decided to go with him was because we thought it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin," he said.
"I was shocked to find out later from media reports that the Christmas lunch was a charity lunch for the poor and homeless, and that most of the places we had been taken to were free and were not meant for tourists."
– Tourist: We were conned, New Zealand Herald>>
– Chinese tourists say crooked NZ tour-operator took them to a "buffet" that was really a church soup-kitchen, Boing Boing>>