As a born-and-bred Southlander and a proud Invercargillite, I’m not sure if I’m most pissed off at the whinging couple from Hamilton who didn’t like their Air New Zealand Mystery Break, or at the idiotic, pandering media for giving them their five minutes of fame.
If you’ve been living under a rock, or perhaps hanging out at a Hamilton STI clinic (more on that later), you might have missed today’s “breaking news” on both Stuff and the NZ Herald about a Hamilton couple having a mighty whinge after ending up in Invercargill for their Mystery Break.
And I’m not kidding about the breaking news thing: according to friends who use the Stuff app, it showed up as a breaking news headline, and the Herald ran it at the top of their site in the big “holy shit it’s on a red bar so it must be important” panel.
On the front of Stuff it was a “Mystery break farce”, because of course coming to Invercargill must be a farce. No one would want to come here, surely? Well, apart from all the people who were in town over the weekend for the 50th anniversary of Burt Munro’s awesome record-breaking ride. There were plenty of people who turned out for the parade, and cafes and shops were busy all weekend. Unless they were all figments of my imagination. Perhaps inhaling all that fresh air during the seven-minute drive from suburbs to inner city on a lovely Saturday afternoon addled my brain.
But wait, it gets worse: later, in the “Travel headlines” panel in the travel section, it was labelled “Air NZ’s mystery break horror”.
Horror? Really … horror? Really Stuff, is that how little you think of your southern-most readers?
The Hamiltonians (hereinafter known as Mr Penis and The Bit of Fluff, or TBOF) had been expecting a luxurious three-night mystery break, but (the story tells us in dramatic fashion): “they ended up in an Invercargill serviced apartment they found so substandard they fled to Queenstown”.
They fled to Queenstown? Holy crap, how bad was it? Were they chased out of the building by torch-wielding cockroaches?
TBOF made it clear that she wasn’t happy about being exiled to Invercargill from the get-go, saying “The disappointment set in as soon as they checked in at Hamilton Airport and realised they were going to Invercargill … She tried to keep an open mind but couldn’t contain her dismay when they touched down in the country’s southernmost city. “
Really? Wow, way to keep an open mind TBOF. “We landed and I was like ‘oh, dear god’.”
When they got to their accommodation, poor ol’ TBOF really lost it, having a bit of a blub to the staff at the hotel after telling the seemingly obedient Mr P to ring Air NZ because she wasn’t staying there. Those torch-wielding cockroaches must have made her feel really unwelcome.
Mr P and TBOF had booked and paid for a deluxe break, which offers 4 to 5-star accommodation, and TBOF reckons the hotel manager told her they couldn’t provide 4 to 5-star rooms because his hotel has a 3 to 4-star rating. No one in the media seems to have contacted the hotel concerned but if it is indeed the Quest (looks like it is), then the rooms there are rated as 4-star and the majority of reviews on Trip Advisor are quite complimentary. Besides, 4-star is in the 4 to 5-star range.
The view? Well, yes, it certainly wasn’t the greatest. But I’ve stayed in hotels in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney that were in inner-city locations and had similar views. I’m generally more concerned with being close to the action.
Here’s the deal: when you book a Mystery Break, you have the option of naming where you don’t want to go. They obviously didn’t do that. If they had such a bias against Invercargill, they should have selected that as the “don’t send us there” option.
I’m not always the biggest advocate for Air New Zealand, having had a whinge or two myself about them and last-minute flight changes in the past. But in this case, our national carrier did nothing wrong. Mr P and TBOF bought and paid for a deluxe Mystery Break, that means they can end up anywhere in New Zealand. They go what they paid for.
Why the hell did their online whinging deserve to make the headlines? They weren’t “ripped off” as they claimed in the story, they were simply too fucking lazy to actually book their own holiday, left it up to the lucky dip system, and weren’t happy. Whoop-de-do.
Let’s see, I bought some rice milk a while ago to try in my coffee in an attempt to cut back on the lactose levels I was getting from standard cow juice. I opened it, gave it a sniff and a bit of a shake and casually mentioned to my well-insured other half that it smelled a bit like arse. But, I said, I’ll give it a go.
Turns out it also tasted a bit like arse. Or maybe I was just put off by the initial smell and weird, watered-down look it had straight from the carton. Perhaps, much like Mr P and TBOF, I formed an opinion before I even tried it.
Should I have gone to the media? “I bought rice milk expecting it to be nasty, and it was. Even though the supermarket gave me exactly what I paid for, they’ve ripped me off. Whine, whine, whine, please write a story about what a victim/dickhead I am.”
I’m pretty sure that the response would have been something along the lines of “sod off”. And rightly so.
Southland Times opinion writer, the lovely young Michael Fallow wrote a nice wee story to tell Mr P and TBOF why they should have given the city a go, and even the Invercargill City Council got involved, offering up a list of attractions and the few businesses they always promote (read the link if you want their names, they get enough publicity). But there’s also Invercargill Brewery, some great independent cafes and restaurants, a pretty bloody good locally owned department store in H & J Smiths and a whole bunch of smaller, boutique businesses that will entice you to break out your credit card.
We might not have the sexually-transmitted infection claim-to-fame that Hamilton does (although, it would seem the online reputation of being the chlamydia capital New Zealand isn’t fully deserved, so that attraction needs to be crossed off the list), but for those feeling like a spot of exercise that doesn’t involve getting fungus on your dangly bits, we do have some nice parks, walking tracks, and beaches. And the stumpery at Queens Park is worth a look.
But it would seem that those poor displaced Hamiltonians were far too traumatised by actually having to land in Invercargill to look at any of that. They fled to Queenstown and stayed there instead.
And now, according to the Herald, Air NZ has refunded their money and apologised for the Mystery Break not meeting their expectations. Air NZ had nothing to apologise for. Mr P and TBOF had nothing to claim a refund for.
But still they whinge: the NZ Herald story says “(the artist formerly known as TBOF) says she has no intention to ever return to Invercargill ever again.”
She goes on to say “We’re never going back there, especially with the amount of hate locals have been giving us online – apparently we’re just a pack of Jaffas.”
Allow me to apologise to TBOF: I’m sorry you’re a whinging, entitled brat. Get over yourself.
Oh, and thank you for saying you’ll never venture back to our fair city. I’m sure we’re all relieved. Especially the cockroaches.
Fuck you very much, enjoy your day. But really NZ media: WTF were you guys thinking? This isn’t a story, it’s just some tosser having a fucking whinge.
PS: I have no problem with Jafas (yes Herald, since it’s an acronym for Just Another Fucking Aucklander, it has just one F). And I think you’ll find many of us Southlanders probably use the term in a friendly way, the same as we do with Pom, Yank or Ocker.
Besides, I actually really like Auckland.