Kiwis show tourist their giving side

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Caitlin Hardie. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Caitlin Hardie. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Offers of money, free accommodation, clothes, food and even a paraglider have been pouring in for Canadian Caitlin Hardie, who had all her luggage stolen less than two hours after she touched down in Auckland.

Dozens of people contacted the Herald offering to help the 25-year-old, following an article in the newspaper yesterday.

Miss Hardie, from Vancouver, arrived in Auckland on Saturday morning and headed straight to One Tree Hill with friend and fellow Canadian Drew Sagar, who wanted to show her the famous landmark.

The two friends, who are qualified paraglider pilots, had planned a three-week trip in New Zealand, travelling the country while paragliding.

Mr Sagar arrived on Friday.

After taking photos at the summit, the pair returned to their vehicle to find that it had been broken into and all of Miss Hardie's luggage - which included a new custom-made paraglider - gone.

Dozens of people have offered to help the two friends, with offers of free accommodation, food, clothes and even wine.

A security company has also offered its services.

One woman, who made a monetary donation, said she wanted to show the pair that not all New Zealanders behaved that way.

"I hate seeing visitors to our shores getting robbed all the time," she said. "Please return the thought to Caitlin that not all people in NZ behave like criminals."

Other offers include free takeaway meals for a week, free accommodation in Dunedin, the Coromandel and at a luxury lodge in Queenstown. A complimentary case of Marlborough sauvignon blanc was also offered by one reader.

Another reader offered them a spare paraglider to use.

Miss Hardie said she had been overwhelmed by the support of so many people - from friends and family overseas who had heard about her plight, to complete strangers.

"I was just on the radio [yesterday morning] and the support has just been so big. It's a bit overwhelming," she said.

"We went to have lunch at a cafe and the woman behind the counter said: 'You aren't the people in the paper today, are you?' - we got lunch on the house.

"I think it's just so touching, I'm so touched at all this, for people to care. Thank you so much."

She spent yesterday organising a new passport and contacting various paragliding organisations, asking that they keep an eye out for her unique paraglider.

Michael Ayrton of the Cornwall Park Trust Board yesterday said it was "most definitely" not the only theft in the Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill area.

The friends have filed a report with police, who are continuing investigations.

* Anyone with information should call Auckland police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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