Chinese tourists say crooked NZ tour-operator took them to a "buffet" that was really a church soup-kitchen

Chinese tourists say a crooked tour-operator who'd promised them the best sightseeing in New Zealand and a buffet dinner instead took them to a bunch of public parks and then dumped them in the line at a soup-kitchen:

"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."

A TVNZ Christmas Day news report said Chinese tourists on organised tours were among the 2800 people at the Viaduct Events Centre for the annual charity lunch.

Chinese visitor says tour operator told him charity event was Govt treat. (Thanks, Juha!)


  1. Hey they got to see the real NZ up close and personal, rather than some sanitized corporate hotel lobby.  Many Americans would pay extra for this!

      1. Ah, but Americans abroad so want to believe something, anything that it would be cruel to disappoint them.

        1. Yes, this is true about Americans — and others, it is not bad, wanting to believe in something. 

          But, is it cruel to disappoint?  Most of us have preconceived expectations or whatever when travelling, but travellers who gain the most from travelling are the ones who are not disappointed when what they find does not reflect their beliefs and/or expectations.Those who are disappoint?

          Maybe they should try travelling again, after re-examining why they were disappointed. Otherwise, they should stick to their local mall, or gathering place. So, is it cruel to disappoint tourists?

          Fuck no it isn’t, barring obvious fraud,theft, abuse and etcetera ;)

          1. I think it is a question of balance, of challenging but not shattering beliefs.
            The less information people receive about world events and the later they become accustomed to foreign travel the more the outside world is liable to take on the appearance of myth or fantasy, of unreality.
            Obviously there is a scale of vulnerability with North Koreans at one pole and, perhaps, Africans at the other. Possibly Americans come somewhere in the middle.

  2. Trusting someone mostly because they speak your language/share a culture has a long history of causing problems. Many Hispanics in Florida have had all kinds of medical problems after seeking ‘someone they can trust’ through the community. When it comes to things like this, looking for official government or professional society endorsement is usually a good reliability indicator.

  3. It gives me a bit more respect for NZ to learn that you can spend a whole day living like a homeless person without even realizing that you aren’t on an official tour.

  4. Certainly disappointing for the tour group.  This reminds me of a bait-and-switch ‘tour’ I took in China a few years ago.  Although they did in fact pay for the rooms and food, all of the ‘sightseeing’ turned out to be pushy sales pitches.  We would drive all day to be stuck in a room while salespeople explained how their silk/pearls/tea/teapots would cure us of sickness and cancer, and improve our skin and libido.  Needless to say, it was disappointing, but once we figured it out, there was no way to get out of it.  Later on that trip, I came across other similar ‘tours’ but knew to stay away.

      1. Price, for one.  When we were introduced to the tour, the price was good – a little too good.  I’m skeptical by nature, and when we asked more about it, they explained that it was being subsidized by the Chinese government for expats (which turned out to be bogus).  Since my wife’s family is Chinese, and we trusted the relative who referred us, we went along with it.  Most of the ‘attractions’ related to the sales pitch, but in more positive tones.  For example, the teapot and tea sales pitches were described as tours of a teahouse and tea fields.  But the real clincher was the ‘guaranteed’ tickets to the Shanghai Expo (which was going on at the time), and specifically entrance to the China expo building which was almost impossible to get into.

        When we finally realized on the second day that this tour was designed to suit the company – not us – we were already well outside the city.  But we put up with the rest of it because of those Expo tickets.  As you’ve probably guessed though, at the last minute they couldn’t come up with admission and dropped us back off in the city.

        Later on in the trip (in Beijing), we signed up for transportation/entrance to the Great Wall.  Once the passengers had been picked up, the driver explained that were were getting a ‘bonus’ tour of a teahouse and silk factory.  Needless to say, we had them pull over and let us out on the spot.  It cost us a little more to rent a taxi for the day, but we got to spend several hours walking the wall instead of the ~15 minutes the tour group got (we checking in with one of them afterwards).

        I don’t mean to discourage anyone from visiting China.  The trip as a whole was still amazing and we hope to go again.  But if you do go, be extra skeptical to stay clear of tourist traps.

        1.  This is a large majority of tours in Thailand (particularly Bangkok) as well.  They take you to the destination, where you spend a very short amount of time, then you go to a suit shop where tailors try to sell you a suit.  Man, I hated every single tour I took on that trip.

          It was weird being in Vietnam, though.  We came across some guides who would take us to see the sights, but also showed us coffee farms, how tea is processed, a shop that buys shrapnel from the war that farmers dig up in their fields.  There was never any pressure to buy anything, however, which made it all the more surreal.  They just seemed to want to show us how things worked.

    1. In Turkey I found out that all tours were required by the gov to take groups to at least one local arts/crafts producer.  It could be pottery, jewelry, rug making, etc.  I didn’t feel bothered by it though since the shops were high quality and they usually tried to be educational by also showing how they made things.  Plus I figured I was helping keep traditional skills alive.

  5. A friend’s mother was visiting the US from Britain and she took her Mom to a pho restaurant.  As is common, there were long shared tables and everyone had large bowls of soup.  
    Her mother (loudly) “Oh no, is this one of those soup kitchens?”

  6. Herded into endless Hotel Miramars and Bellevues and Continentales with their bleedin’ Watney’s Red Barrel and swimming pools full of fat German businessmen pretending they’re acrobats forming pyramids and frightening the children and barging into queues and if you’re not at your table spot on seven you miss the bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item on the menu of International Cuisine!

    Torremolinos! Torremolinos!

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