Three English tourists spent weeks having a great time touring New Zealand, but less than 24 hours after arriving in Whangarei their vehicle was broken into and thousands of dollars worth of goods and personal items - including their passports - were stolen.
The trio, Holly Turner, Harry Gooderham and George Luckett, all aged 19 from eastern England, had their car broken into while they visited Abbey Caves on Tuesday and are gutted at the theft.
The three were in Auckland yesterday hoping to arrange emergency passports as they are due to fly out tomorrow, but if they are unable to get travel documents sorted out they may have to stay longer and disrupt their travel plans.
Holly said they arrived in Whangarei on Monday night after spending a "wonderful" three weeks travelling around the country and after spending two nights in Paihia. It was a dream trip that was fully living up to their expectations, at least until Tuesday.
They parked their car at the carpark at Abbey Caves Rd around 11am for a look around the famed Abbey Caves. Unfortunately they forgot to lock the front door and when they returned to the car about 12.30pm it had been cleaned out.
Items stolen included their wallets, passports and other personal documents, bank cards, a Blackberry tablet, ipads, cellphones and clothing.
Harry and George have been in New Zealand for three months on a working holiday in Napier picking kiwifruit. Holly has been in the country for three weeks and joined up with the men as they decided they would travel around the North Island and see the sights.
"We have been black water rafting in the Waitomo glow worm caves and white water rafting in Rotorua. We decided to head up to Paihia and spend a couple of days there. On our way back to Auckland for our flights we decided to stop in Whangarei," Holly said.
"When we got there we noticed the Abbey Caves and The Whangarei Falls so we decided to spend a night there and explore the two tourist sites the next day. We parked up on the side of the road near Abbey Caves. We left the car for about an hour and a half and when we came back we noticed that our bags on the back seat had been stolen and the glove box was left open."
All the travel information needed for their departure out of New Zealand tomorrow to Australia (Harry and George) and Fiji (Holly) was taken.
"As you can imagine this has been a major inconvenience and has set us back a lot of money in order to ensure our trips can be continued. As our wallets were stolen we have no cards and no way of getting money from the UK so are without money until we can arrange something," Holly said.
"Our passports have been our first priority, costing us $185 each for emergency ones. Fingers crossed we will be sorted soon."
Whangarei police Sergeant Nira Kingi said the theft was another unfortunate experience for tourists, who pour up to $600 million a year into the Northland economy.
Mr Kingi said the case was a timely reminder for people to always lock their vehicles and make sure valuables are kept out of sight.
Anybody with information on the theft can contact Whangarei police on 4304500.