NZ travel agency goes into liquidation, leaving Kiwis scrambling to salvage travel plans and recover money

Hundreds of Kiwis who paid for overseas travel packages to Asia and Europe are having their trips cancelled - and are in jeopardy of losing their money - after Auckland-based travel agency Sinorama NZ went into liquidation this week.

The company sold $1000-plus overseas tours, often through discount websites GrabOne and Groupon.

Demoralised customers took to online forums this week to share their stories and strategise ways to get a refund.

"I went to their office in Auckland this morning as I was getting no responses for information about a trip I was supposed to be going on in 2 weeks," one customer wrote yesterday. "They have cancelled all of their October and November trips and the employee I spoke to couldn't answer about future trips.

"I am now waiting to speak to their manager to try and get a refund of my tour plus other fees, urgency exchange fees, travel insurance etc."

Another customer described being taken aback when a trip for later this month was cancelled in September.

"No refund forthcoming yet so have doubled back through GrabOne (voucher bought off their site) who have promised a refund within the next few days," the person wrote. "We will be out of pocket for visa and NZ domestic flights.

"Sinorama has become sinandrama."

Customers in New Zealand are owed about $1.1 million, with Australian customers owed another $800,000, liquidator Peri Finnigan told Stuff. Some travellers were due to leave as early as Monday, the newspaper chain reports.

Ms Finnigan said her office has been flooded with calls in the four days since McDonald Vague was appointed liquidator.

"We understand GrabOne holds some recent deposits for customers," she said, suggesting customers also check with their banks, credit card companies and travel insurers to see if a refund is possible.

Many customers, however, appeared resigned to the idea that they will be losing money.

"Our tour date was changed and then cancelled," a woman wrote two days ago in an online forum. "We're trying to see if we can get money back through Visa card. We are out of pocket for the visas and we won't get a complete refund on our travel insurance.

"I'll email Southern Cross to see if they cover failed tour companies, however I suppose they won't."

Plane (file image). Source: Thinkstock