Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Travellers hit hours before flight leaves

Two young Germans have had an unhappy end to their New Zealand travel after their backpacks - with passports and six months of diaries and photos - were stolen just hours before they were due to leave the country.

Fabian Wardezki, 22, and Sandra Kalemba, 20, went to Sylvia Park shopping centre in Auckland on Tuesday to buy a few souvenirs before returning their rental car and heading to the airport to fly to Hawaii that night. They returned to their car to find its back window smashed and their backpacks gone.

The friends have had to cancel their three-week Hawaii trip and get emergency passports so they can fly home in time to return to work.

"I feel something between sad and angry," Mr Wardezki said. "We had more than 20,000 pictures on our camera, which is worth [$1500]. They were backed up on USB sticks but they were in the backpacks.

"We'd also been writing diaries throughout all our travels."

Mr Wardezki said his frustration wasn't at the value of items stolen, but the memories they were attached to.

"Now all we have is the clothes we were wearing, our wallets, and I have my cellphone with about 500 pictures. Sandra's iPhone was in the car.

"[Sandra] is even more frustrated. She has been keeping diaries since 2010; they're very important to her."

A St Heliers Bay family Mr Wardezki's sister worked for as an au pair is looking after them.

"The security guard at Sylvia Park said footage showed a car drove into the carpark, stopped next to our car, smashed the window, took the backpacks and then drove off. Police said it wasn't that likely the items would be recovered."

- NZ Herald

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