A car stolen at knifepoint from three English tourists in Paihia has been found burnt out on a rural road near Kawakawa.
The trio's Subaru was found on Thursday afternoon in a roadside gravel dump on Ruapekapeka Rd, midway between Kawakawa and Towai where the road passes through Hukerenui Forest.
Police want to pin down when the car was dumped and set on fire, so they are appealing to farmers and other locals using the road to tell them when they first saw it. Call Detective Greg Johnson on (09) 353 0442 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. Mr Johnson was also keen to hear of any sightings of the silver Subaru Legacy stationwagon, registration CEY423, after 5am on Sunday.
The three English visitors had found Paihia's backpacker lodges full over the Easter break so spent the night in their car, outside the Beachhouse Bar on Kings Rd. Earlier that night, about 2am, they had befriended a group of five men, described only as male Maori, who had invited them to a party.
The visitors declined and were woken by the same men around 5am, this time wielding a large knife. The tourists were ordered to hand over their keys and get out of the car, leaving them with only the clothes they were sleeping in.
Police would also like to hear from anyone who saw the English trio or the five offenders on Kings Rd on Saturday night or Sunday morning, or who knows where their belongings are. The stolen property includes backpacks, cellphones, passports, a fishing rod, wetsuit and Panasonic camera.
The trio, who are on a working holiday in New Zealand, have returned to their base in Tauranga.