Resort visitor “disappointed”

Stretched: Lines for the NZSki buses stretch around Shotover, Camp and Duke Streets while the company's experiencing a driver shortage

A British visitor is ‘‘disappointed’’ with her Queenstown experience, after all of her mountain transport, ski passes and gear hire were cancelled at the 11th hour.

The woman, who didn’t want to benamed, arrived on July 14 for a week-long holiday with her partner to celebrate her birthday.

It was their first trip overseas since Covid.

The couple booked their NZSki packages for The Remarkables through Hong Kong-based website Klook, but the day before they arrived they were told everything relating to their ski trip had been cancelled due to ‘‘lack of transportation’’.

She tried to make her own arrangements to hire gear, arrange passes and transport, but says it’s been ‘‘a bit of a nightmare’’.

She couldn’t find a single website selling bus passes, so called NZSki , but was told they weren’t selling tickets for last Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

NZSki boss Paul Anderson confirms sales for bus passes did stop for 48 hours last week because 10 of their 43 bus drivers were out with Covid.

But, he says, it was also the busiest week of the year with the New Zealand and New
South Wales school holidays crossing over.

‘‘We already had enough customers in town that had already booked tickets, and we wanted to make sure we looked after them before we started selling more, unfortunately.’’

A Klook spokeswoman tells Mountain Scene they empathise with the woman’s frustrations, but notes The Remarkables has a 24-hour confirmation, allowing the operator time to check availability before confirming bookings, which the woman was notified of at the time of booking.

The woman tells Scene she also struggled to find anywhere in Queenstown with
available rental gear.

And while she managed to hire a Toyota Yaris for the week, it didn’t have chains, so she couldn’t take it up The Remarks.

She wasn’t able to hire a 4WD to access the mountain for a day, but eventually managed to find a local, via social media, whom they paid to take them up.

The overall experience has left a slightly bitter taste in her mouth.

‘‘I told [my partner] how magical the place is and [they’ve] been so excited, and I just feel like I failed — I couldn’t provide all these things for [them] on the holiday, and it just seems to be going from bad to worse.’’

While she was fully refunded by Klook, she estimates the cost of her holiday’s close to $8500, and she’s not sure if it’s been worth it.

‘‘We did have fun when we eventually got up there, but, I don’t know.

‘‘I’ve never known it to be this expensive coming over here.

‘‘I know they’re trying their best, but it’s school holidays, the borders are open and then [Prime Minister] Jacinda [Ardern] releases all these restrictions, so what do people think is gonna happen?

‘‘Everyone’s gonna come here, everyone’s hanging out for an overseas holiday … it’s just disappointing when you book and you can’t go,’’ she says.

At the opening of The Remarks last month, Scene asked Ardern and Tourism Minister Stuart Nash if there was a risk to visitors’ premium experiences, given the critical staffing shortages.

Nash replied Tourism NZ had been working closely with NZSki to get workers across the border to service the mountains, understanding people coming to ski need to ‘‘have their expectations exceeded’’.

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