People are strange creatures – some us us miss the point entirely and some of us can never be pleased. A story I read online recently put that into stark effect – in a humorous way as well. A collection of reviews of our country’s popular tourist attractions illustrated the often downright nuttiness of visitors – from overseas and New Zealand.

Milford Sound, for example is a renowned and popular destination for those who venture into the unique and rugged landscape of Fiordland. It is breath-taking and awe inspiring and I have never failed to be absolutely blown away, each time I have been there. But for a French visitor none of that even registered. “Ok, the landscape is fine, but nothing to compare with Norway. OK, you can see half a dozen seals napping on a rock and, if you are lucky, the fins of a few dolphins… Not at all worth the cost,” said Menecee69. (Source: “Amusing one-star reviews of popular New Zealand attractions,” by Lorna Thornber, Aug 09 2019, www.stuff.com).

But even our top tier stars of unique Kiwi landscapes were not the only sights picked out for scorn and derision. Since Peter Jackson released his cinematic vision of Tolkein’s magical world of hobbits and wizards, and Orks and rings to movie goers around the world, certain parts New Zealand have become tourist destinations for locals and overseas visitors, enamoured by the film series. Hobbiton in Matamata attracts tens of thousands of Lord of the Rings devotees each year. It is located on a farm  – a working enterprise where sheep amble about amongst the hobbit dwellings.

VivienneJ38 seemed to completely understand that fact and was motivated to leave this review: “While we were eating breakfast at the cafe the awful farmer came along with half a dozen cattle and jammed them in a pen to be picked up for slaughter… It was very upsetting and distressing.” Which one could possibly understand if they hadn’t read the signs or listened to the guides informing visitors that the film sets were actually located on a viable and working farm.

Of all the reviews contained in the story, one of my favourites was about a rather lovely sight that can be seen in Lake Wanaka. The tree that grows out of the lake is a popular feature for photographers and is fantastically photogenic. It is not unique for trees to grow in bodies of water – but it’s not entirely commonplace and Lake Wanaka is a rather beautiful spot. However, ozziemale1964 of Sydney decided to review it like this: “It’s a freaking tree in a lake!. There are hundreds of these all over the west coast of New Zealand with equally spectacular backdrops. Give me a break!”

But perhaps the best of all was a review left by a visitor from the UK who found one of the awe-inspiring geysers in Rotorua to be nothing more than a complete let-down. Keith H had this to say about the Lady Knox geyser. “Quite frankly I have seen more bubbles when my grandson farts in the bath. It was so disappointing it shot up about 10 feet, we were all expecting 10 metres at least.”

Without even spending the time to look I can imagine the same short sighted and rather negative reviews being left for all of the attractions – natural and otherwise – around the world. Buckingham Palace “It’s just a big house , that doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive as I imagined it may be, based on seeing it on TV, and I didn’t even see the Queen.” The Eiffel Tower: “It’s just a big tower that doesn’t look half as good as something my kid could make with Lego – and there are thousands of tourists everywhere ruining the experience.” Uluru (or Ayer’s Rock): “A big boring rock – nowhere near as good as other rocks I’ve seen. We travelled miles in a smelly bus with a whole lot of other people to see a big rock in a desert. Total loser rock, Sad!’

Reviews often expose the huge difference of opinion we have of experiences, services, meals, hotels, and businesses, for example. Not everyone will be pleased, awed, exposed to something majestic, life changing and awe inspiring. Most of us contemplate something incredible, a few of us complain that it’s a massive disappointment. And that’s the thing really. If we all felt the same, we would all be the same, and that would be no fun at all.