A Wairarapa family rejected from a Napier hotel after being told their debit card would not get them in the door had to drive almost 300 kilometres back home because everywhere else in Hawke's Bay was full.
Jade Legge, along with her husband Brad and two children Paisley and Mackenzie, say they may never return to the region after their experience at the Scenic Hotel Te Pania in Napier on Saturday.
Legge, who doesn't own a credit card after she cut it up when she'd paid off her debts, said it was crazy the hotel wouldn't let her family in the door without one.
But the hotel says it is company policy, consistent with many hotels around the globe, to require the presentation of a photo ID and credit card upon check-in.
The family of four, who had travelled over three and a half hours from South Wairarapa for a short break and some aquarium sightseeing, said after a visit to the information centre, to be told there was no other accommodation available that night, they made the 290km trip back to Pirinoa the very same day.
Legge said she, her husband and her daughters, aged 1 and 2, were left "disappointed and confused" at why they couldn't use their Visa debit card or alternative methods.
Debit cards are used for spending money from your own bank account, while a credit card allows you to borrow money and repay it at a later date.
"We're dairy farmers and this was the first weekend my husband has had off in months, as we are about to start calving, and thought we would make a trip somewhere as a family," she said.
They had pre-booked two rooms using their business's Visa debit card and went to pay with a similar one, before offering other forms of payment.
"We offered to pay a cash bond and a friend in Napier offered their credit [card] to use."
None were accepted,
"We don't forget easily," Legge said, My husband is well and truly over it, as I struggle to get him away at the best of times," she said. "This is only going to make it harder.
Legge said she used to have a credit card but had made a conscious decision to live life without one.
"I paid it off and chopped it up. But I have booked and stayed many places without one."
After an unsuccessful late-night stop in Dannevirke in search of a hotel, the family of four eventually arrived back in South Wairarapa shortly before 10pm.
"Our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter thought we'd be going to the aquarium and doing some fun activities, so she is a bit disappointed," Legge said.
"I am just gutted as it was going to be our little getaway before our busiest period on-farm."
A spokeswoman from the Scenic Hotel Te Pania said the presentation of a photo ID and credit card upon check-in was company policy.
"It is noted on our website and third-party booking websites prior to booking, and again in the confirmation email once booking is made.," she said.
"This policy is not uncommon for hotels both nationally and internationally."
Hawke's Bay Tourism chief executive Hamish Saxton said he respected the hotel's terms and condition policies.
"It's not uncommon practice among hotels worldwide to request identification and credit cards within these parameters," he said.
Legge said the whole experience left her family upset and disgruntled.
"I feel like they are a corporate that doesn't care about Kiwis," she said.
"We're a young family, not ratbags that were looking for a place to stay to get on the grog and wreck the rooms."
She added: "I feel it's very ironic that they are encouraging us to spend our money local, then do this to us."