A PAIR of baffled rugby fans watching their team at the World Cup drove in circles for hours looking for their hotel – only to find out that they had booked one not in Eastbourne, New Zealand, but one here in East Sussex.
Michael and Sunette Adendorff flew in to Wellington from South Africa to see their beloved Springboks take on Wales in their opening pool match of the Rugby World Cup.
And although the game went as planned, with South Africa scraping a narrow win, things off the pitch were far less successful. The sat nav in the couple’s hire car could not find the Majestic Hotel anywhere in the Eastbourne suburb of Lower Hutt, where they planned to spend the night.
So, after trying almost every street in the 4,600 people area, they decided to pull in and ask a local chemist, and it was then that it dawned on them they had mis-booked by around 12,000 miles.
In fact, the southern hemisphere Eastbourne is so small it does not even have one hotel – let alone the one they were looking for.
Shop assistant Linda Burke, who the couple asked for help, said, “They just walked in and asked me where Royal Parade was, with the Majestic Hotel.
“I said: Oh no, there’s no hotel here.
“I looked at it and said, That’s in the UK, that’s in England.”
The shop worker and the couple then searched for the Majestic on the internet and found that their room was in fact waiting for them on the other side of the world.
And, according to Ms Burke, the husband and wife could possibly have figured out their mistake by the fact they were charged the £90-a-night bill in pounds, not New Zealand dollars.
“He did think it was funny they charged him in pounds,” she said.
But, if the couple thought they were destined to spend the night on a park bench, they did not take into account the welcoming nature of the Kiwi locals.
Ms Burke rang around a string of bed and breakfasts only to find they were all already fully booked. So instead she offered them a room at her house for the night – with the now embarrassed couple only too happy to accept.
She also took them out on the town for beers and dinner at a pub, where the locals gave them some good-natured ribbing.
Shrugging off her generosity she said, “I’ve done a bit of travelling, and sometimes you get in a tricky situation and people just help.
“That’s what Kiwis do, don’t they? They were a lovely couple.”
And they said the kindness shown to them in New Zealand more than made up for the fact they missed out on a more luxurious stay.
Seeing the funny side, Mr Adendorff said, “I booked into the right hotel – just in the wrong country.
“I don’t know how Eastbourne in England popped up in the comparisons on the internet.
“The welcome and the way we were treated and the way we saw Eastbourne was much better than if we had booked into a hotel.”