A plan to trace their Irish roots has ended in disaster for two New Zealand tourists, who were told they were too old to be insured on the roads.

Terry and Alison Kelso's long journey to County Antrim seemed even more taxing after they were dealt a devastating blow.

The New Zealand natives traveled all the way across the world to reach Glenarm, keen to research their family history. The couple planned to spend 15 weeks in the surrounding areas, checking out all Ireland has to offer.

Terry (84) and Alison (76) Kelso were intent on renting a car to help them get around on their sightseeing trip, but when they went to obtain insurance, they were told they were too old. 

Banbridge-born Terry told the Belfast Telegraph that the couple have been "overwhelmed" by the support of the "caring, compassionate, and lovely" people of Northern Ireland after they found themselves stranded without a car while on their three-month holiday.


He revealed that they had been walking to nearby destinations or availing of public transport until the local people proved that Ireland really is the land of one thousand welcomes.

SMART Money News: A Kiwi couple told by insurance companies they are too old to drive in Northern Ireland are sounding a warning to other older tourists about the "discriminatory" policy.Alison Kelso, 76, and husband Terry, 84, from Nelson had planned... https://t.co/oloijSUmJQ

— SMART (@SmartBrokers) July 12, 2018

The couple - who have been married for 56 years - said that it's been a trip of a lifetime, and probably their last visit to the Emerald Isle.

"This is our third visit and it will probably be our last. Terry is 84 years old and the journey to Belfast took us 48 hours. It is such an horrendous flight from New Zealand. It wasn't much fun. So we won't be coming back again," Alison said.

"The problems started when we couldn't get a car because we couldn't get insurance to be able to drive it," she told the Belfast Telegraph. 

"We planned to come here and buy a little car. We are here for 15 weeks and we couldn't afford to hire one for that time, so we thought we would buy a vehicle and then sell it before we go home."

"It wasn't until we got here that we realised that we are not allowed to drive here because we couldn't get insurance at our age. So all our plans turned to custard because we were in Glenarm, which is where we have the holiday home, and we had no transport to do all the things we wanted to do. 

Meet New Zealand couple deemed too old to drive in Northern Irelandhttps://t.co/TteIorPk5X pic.twitter.com/MfZbjeIl53

— Belfast Telegraph (@BelTel) July 11, 2018

"It felt really horrible. We drive our cars every day at home. We are very independent. It was awful to be told we were past our use-by date and we weren't allowed to drive here."

The couple, who have four children and eight grandchildren, added that they have valid, current New Zealand licenses. They also revealed that every insurance broker in Larne told them that no body under 20 or over 70 would be insured due to the risk. 

On the upside, their new unofficial chaffeurs have helped make the trip even more memorable.

"We have gradually made friends with people who have offered us rides to places, to go to Larne to do our shopping, or if they have been going anywhere they say that their back seat is free and we can take it.

"We have made a lot of wonderful friends that we would not have otherwise made if we'd had a car. But it is actually rather humiliating to have to rely on the generosity of strangers, to be honest.

"Had we known this was going to be the case, there is no way that we would have come for such a length of time," she said.

"We have had offers from people all over Northern Ireland to help us. People from Londonderry all the way down to Newcastle offering to take us places and show us around. One man in Derry even offered us a private tour all around Northern Ireland.

"And after all the offers of help we have received we have come to the conclusion that this is one fantastic country, full of really lovely, caring and compassionate people. And we will go home with really great feelings about this country and this trip," Alison added.

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