Thugs smash visitor's car, take backpack

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Lake Waikaremoana. File photo / Richard Robinson
Lake Waikaremoana. File photo / Richard Robinson

A five-minute walk to see the sunset over Lake Waikaremoana put an end to "wonderful" Kiwi hospitality for a young Austrian backpacker.

After a day of tramping at the lake last Thursday, Daniel Wegscheider, 20, stopped off at Te Whero Bay, a short distance around the lake from Home Bay, to take pictures of the sunset.

In less than the five minutes it took for him to walk to the shore and take photos, his car window was smashed, his tyre slashed and his backpack full of clothes and sleeping bag was stolen.

Fortunately, a "bad feeling" before he left the car saw him take his small bag with him - the one that had all his documents and passport in it.

He heard a loud boom and the sound of smashing glass on his way back to the car and arrived to find it vandalised, with a vehicle full of offenders leaving in a cloud of dust.

His first instinct was to jump in his car and chase them, if only to get their licence plate number.

But after driving a few metres he realised they had knifed one of his tyres and he was unable to keep up the chase.

He reached for his cell phone to call police but there was no coverage, so he drove on a flat tyre until he got sufficient coverage for the 111 call.

Passers-by in a car saw him and Kiwi hospitality was restored as they helped him to change his wheel.

Apart from his brush with the bad side of New Zealand, Mr Wegscheider, who was on a six-month tour of the country in his car, said he has had a "great" time with many wonderful people who opened up their homes and provided good Kiwi experiences - like catching hapuku off a boat.

Mr Wegscheider loves the sea but has rarely had the chance to spend much time beside it.

He comes from a land-locked town called Mitterberg with a population of 1000, in the Austrian region of Styria.

His visit to Gisborne was marked with a ta moko on his calf by local artist Nick Tupara, who created a unique design to incorporate the story of his life.

He headed to the South Island on Friday thankful for his travel insurance.

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