Invercargill city officials 'really surprised' couple despaired at trip

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A couple's disappointment turned to despair when an Air NZ 'mystery break' landed them in Invercargill - but city officials are "really surprised" they didn't have a good time.

Stu Koch and his partner Bex Rowling paid about $1500 for the getaway which was advertised as "deluxe" four-to-five star accommodation.

Rowling said the couple, who felt their disappointment kick in as soon as they checked in for the their flight at Hamilton Airport, had accepted the refund. 

The view from the Invercargill hotel Bex Rowling and her husband stayed as part of an Air NZ 'Mystery Break'.
FACEBOOK/BEX ROWLING

The view from the Invercargill hotel Bex Rowling and her husband stayed as part of an Air NZ 'Mystery Break'.

"I think it's the best we're going to get," she said.

READ MORE: 
* Couple left disappointed by Air NZ 'Mystery Break'
* There's no 'ta-dah!' in Invercargill
* Mystery breaks: Why you can't complain

An Air NZ spokeswoman said the airline was "really sorry" the mystery break didn't meet the couple's expectations, and the refund was a "gesture of goodwill".

The hotel room where the couple stayed.
FACEBOOK/BEX ROWLING

The hotel room where the couple stayed.

Invercargill City Council Centre co-ordinator Kari Graber said the city offered "something for everyone".

"I am really surprised that the couple did not enjoy their time in Invercargill. The city is so easy to get around and there's so much to do," she said.

Graber said the couple could have chosen to make chocolates at the Serious Good Chocolate Company, or tried a cheese board at the country's only Sheep Milk Cafe. 

The couple said the whole trip was a disappointment.
FACEBOOK/BEX ROWLING

The couple said the whole trip was a disappointment.

"We also have two amazing motoring museums; Transport World and Motorcycle Mecca, not to mention the fantastic southern food served here from some award winning cafes," said Graber.

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"If budget constraints were a consideration there are plenty of awesome attractions which cost nothing: Southland Museum & Art Gallery offers the opportunity to see Tuatara, and it's on the edge of Queens Park, where there are stunning winter gardens and the aviary. It's also a very short drive to Oreti Beach, or to Bluff, where there is amazing scenery and plenty of bush walks on offer.

"There really is something for everyone - it's a pity that these people didn't get the chance to really appreciate our great city."

The couple, however, had tried to keep an open mind but struggled to contain their dismay when they touched down in the country's southernmost city.

"We landed and I was like 'oh, dear god'," Rowling said.

As the couple drove their rental car, which was included in the price, to their central city accommodation, Rowling broke down. 

"I said to Stu 'What the F is this?'. I actually burst into tears because I'd been looking forward to it since June. Then we got to the accommodation and, looking it from the outside, I said 'oh my God'." 

When they were shown to their room, Rowling said her disappointment turned to despair. 

"We walked in and I said 'oh my dear god, you had better ring Air New Zealand because I'm not staying here'."

She said the Air New Zealand staff member who answered the phone was "severely unhelpful", telling them she couldn't do anything because she had to go to lunch and staff training.

Rowling was still crying when the hotel manager, who she believes was contacted by the airline, showed them to another room, which she said was slightly better.

 - Stuff

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