A tourist has returned home to Japan - six months earlier than planned - after the driver of the car he hitched a ride in left him stranded at the Kawakawa toilets and sped off with all the tourist's gear.
Police say the male tourist, who had been travelling around New Zealand on holiday, hitched a ride from a motorist in Whangarei on Monday morning enroute to Paihia. The driver and the tourist stopped at Kawakawa for a toilet break about 10.40am.
Police said CCTV footage from the area shows both men entered the famous Hundertwasser Toilets on Giles St but, very soon after, the driver ran out of the toilet to his car and sped off, leaving the tourist stranded.
All of the tourist's property was in the car, including his wallet and money, passport and clothes. The car and the offender have not yet been located.
"It appears the plan was to steal the tourist's possessions while he was having a toilet break," said Inspector Riki Whiu.
"It was a really low thing to do to someone and, for obvious reasons, the tourist has decided to go back home to Japan and cut short his holiday.
"He was planning to spend another six months here."
The driver of the car is described as a Maori or Pacific Island male, large build, around 175cm tall, with short hair and a goatee.
He was wearing a black T-shirt with white writing on it, and Brisbane Broncos-branded maroon shorts.
Mr Whiu said police were keen to hear from anyone who saw the two men or the car, described as a dark-coloured green or blue Mitsubishi Challenger or similar, in the Kawakawa area around 10.40am on Monday.
The had offender indicated to the tourist that he was heading north.
People can contact police on 09 404 3152 or to provide information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.