New Zealand visitors feeling ripped off after paying extra for entry visas

It's hoped tourism will play a big part in our economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

But some visitors have been left feeling ripped off after being charged big bucks for an entry visa - that should cost a fraction of what they paid.

It's recently become easier for visitors from countries like the US and Canada to come to New Zealand.

United has recently made history by becoming the first American airline to touch down in the South Island.

But some tourists have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth after finding out they've paid way more than they should for an entry visa.

"I don't feel good about being overcharged but because of the situation of having to get down here. I don't care what they would have charged me, I would have paid it just to get down here. But it is not right," Don Crosby told Newshub.

Crosby was advised by his airline to apply for his New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority via a US website rather than fill in the official Immigration New Zealand application.

The travel authority should just cost you $52 which includes the Tourism Levy - far less than the $214 he was made to fork out.

House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas says the issue is not uncommon as there are so many websites to choose from.

"Some of them look a mirror image of the actual official website as well so it's quite hard for someone who doesn't travel a lot to see the differences," he told Newshub.

Immigration New Zealand said while tourists are encouraged to double-check they are visiting the official government website, most of the third-party sites are usually legitimate with the extra cost being administration fees and other travel assistance.

But Crosby said he's a seasoned traveller and believes the website provided no extra help.

"I filled out the form myself. There wasn't any extra assistance, believe me," he said.

Thomas agreed and said the information needs to be clearer.

"Really, it does come down to an educational process, and I think the more that New Zealand Tourism can do to educate people coming to New Zealand and the more that the public in New Zealand are aware of the situations when they are travelling overseas, the better it is," he said.

And while Crosby doesn't feel great about having to pay more than he needed to, he said it hasn't tarnished his holiday to his favourite travel destination.

"It's great being back here to this beautiful country. I've been here many many times," he said.

"Unfortunately, this trip isn't as pleasant as the previous ones, but it's good to be back here and see some old friends and relive some old memories."

And Crosby has this advice - do your research well before you travel overseas.