Tourism is such an integral part of Northland life.

Take a look at our story today - tourism businesses making the finals of, or winning, tourism awards.

And here, another story about the plight of three young German tourists who had their gear stolen by dumb thieves.

I say dumb, I mean stupid because some Northlanders continue to bite the hand of visitors that feed our regional economy.

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It's not a new phenomenon - about 20 years ago I met a German couple who had stayed at a holiday park shortly after arriving in Whangarei, and had their tent raided while they were out walking.

They ended up sleeping in our lounge for a few nights, and the publicity in the local paper (good ol' Advocate) led to some items being recovered, including some precious photographic film of their holiday.

There are many Northlanders who have helped tourists out over time, but a Kerikeri man has just gone to extraordinary lengths.

This Samaritan wants to remain anonymous, but it doesn't mean that his story can't told.

Just over a week ago thieves broke into Paula Sima, Patricia Furtner and Thalia Doering's car at Waitangi and cleaned it out.

They left Northland surprised it happened in daylight and no one saw anything.

A Kerikeri man read about their plight - he had a similar experience in Rome 25 years ago.

After contacting the girls, he turned detective and traced a route he believed the thieves would have taken.

He found the girls' gear down a bank at a layby.

Two young German men from a local backpackers climbed down the bank to retrieve the items, which our Samaritan hauled up on a rope.

The girls have described him as a "superhero".

Stories like this resonate through the backpacker community.

Having had our region's reputation dented by the idiots who broke into the car, it's nice to be able report on people like our Kerikeri man.

Not only did he restore some faith in humankind for the girls, he did a wonderful thing for his region.