German backpacker loses everything after car carrying his luggage disappears into the distance

By Alice Lock -
POSSESSIONS GONE: German backpacker Julius Wagner had all his gear stolen after being dropped on State Highway 5 when hitchhiking from Napier to Taupo. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN.
POSSESSIONS GONE: German backpacker Julius Wagner had all his gear stolen after being dropped on State Highway 5 when hitchhiking from Napier to Taupo. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN.

Before coming to New Zealand a German backpacker never expected a hitchhiking experience could turn so horribly wrong.

Julius Wagner, fresh out of high school, was excited after arriving in the country on his first overseas experience.

He was travelling alone and did not think that three weeks down the track he would be standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with all his belongings gone.

The 18-year-old arrived in Napier last week for the fruit-picking season but as it wasn't starting until the end of this month, he decided to explore the central plateau.

"I was hoping to bridge some time so took my two backpacks and hung out on the road near the airport with my thumb out, in hope of getting to Taupo."

A while later a man pulled over and offered to take him some of the way.

In Mr Wagner's excitement he thought that was better than nothing, so he tossed his two bags in the boot and jumped in the front seat.

The pair went from the airport to the BP service station in Bay View where the driver filled up his car and got an ice cream.

"We then started to drive in the direction of Taupo and maybe 25 minutes later we got to Te Pohue, just outside the pub. He stopped the car and said I had to get out."

The hitchhiker thanked the driver but before he had the chance to grab his bags from the boot the driver sped off, leaving the German high and dry.

"As soon as I shut the door he drove very fast away from me.

"People at the Te Pohue Hotel saw it happen and they ran over to me as I was standing there with nothing."

The group then tried to catch the man in another car but he had already gone too far ahead.

Mr Wagner lost everything.

His small bag carried his passport, visa papers, laptop, bank cards and a camera and his big bag was filled with clothes and shoes.

Since arriving in the country Mr Wagner had already filled his camera and laptop with memories and experiences.

"It was everything I need and all my most valuable possessions with photos and videos all gone."

The couple at the Te Pohue Hotel took Mr Wagner in for the night and gave him necessities before he was driven back to Archie's Bunker, a backpackers in Napier.

"They were so friendly and kind and looked after me really well. She even drove me to Napier the next morning."

He spoke to police who were working to catch the man by looking through footage at the BP service station in Bay View.

At the backpackers Mr Wagner got in contact with the German Embassy which said it would sort him out with a new passport and visa in Wellington.

The young traveller has already set up a new bank account and organised some new belongings.

"I am travelling alone so it is not something you want to experience. I never expected it to happen here and it has not made for a good start of my trip."

Yesterday Mr Wagner was on his way to Wellington where he hoped everything would be sorted out.

"I was looking forward to Taupo but I guess I will have to do it another time."

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