Kiwi detained in Kazakhstan after officials refuse to recognise New Zealand as country

A Kiwi tourist who travelled to Kazakhstan claims she was detained at the border by officials who were skeptical that New Zealand was, in fact, a country.

Chloe Phillips-Harris, a 28 year old from Kawakawa, was attracted to Kazakhstan’s beautiful, rugged scenery and “good people”.

But her adventure almost turned into a misadventure when she was told by immigration officials she’d need to supply an Australian passport upon arriving at the immigration booth.

A photo taken during Chloe Phillips-Harris’ trip to Kazakhstan.

“They thought New Zealand was a state of Australia and that I needed an Australian passport.”

Chloe Phillips-Harris described Kazakhstan as “beautiful” – once she got in.

Further complicating matters, the room she was interrogated in had a large map of the world tacked on the wall – but the map didn’t include New Zealand.

Phillips-Harris said plain-clothes policemen, immigration police and airport officials were involved, meaning bribery – the usual course of action in such situations – was not a viable option.

Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, has a population of 17 million.

“It was a bit late to bribe my way out, which apparently is what I was supposed to do from the beginning, but being a New Zealander we’re not familiar with that,” she told NZME.

After enduring hours of interrogation and one-and-a-half days of being locked up with only 7-Up, snuck to her by sympathetic guards, to nourish her, Phillips-Harris managed to enter the country.

She did not, however, enter by diplomatic channels.

“The people I knew in Kazakhstan got me a new type of visa and paid the right people and got me out… in those countries it’s all about who you know,” she said.

“I think you do worry because you hear disaster stories about people just disappearing and that part of the world is pretty notorious for its corruption.”

Once she was released, she had to have her passport re-stamped every two weeks to maintain her visa.

However, hardy Phillips-Harris was undeterred by her hostile reception to the ex-Soviet nation, spending six months in the country with her Australian partner.

“It was an awesome adventure, I think Kazakhstan is the most stunning country I have ever been to.”

She hoped to return to the country in future, though this time she’s looking forward to a warmer reception.

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