A decision to go for a late afternoon swim to cool off from Whangarei's heat has cost two German tourists all their possessions after their car was broken into on the Tutukaka Coast.

Yunnus Barth and Nykola Pommer, both 20 and from Munich, had been in the country for less than a week when their Nissan Wingroad station wagon was broken into in the Tutukaka Recreation Reserve car park on Sunday afternoon and all their possessions, barring the clothes they were wearing and a cellphone, were taken.

The pair, who arrived last Monday, bought a car in Auckland then drove north, staying at the youth hostel at Whangarei Falls before heading out to the Tutukaka coast on Sunday.

They parked at the carpark about 2pm to walk to the lighthouse and on the way back decided to go for a swim at a nearby bay. They returned about 4pm to find the car broken into and all their property - tent, backpacks, passports, plane tickets, clothes and other possessions worth around 5000 Euro - gone.

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When they first got to the carpark they met fellow German and now Whangarei resident Alex Resch and Ms Resch saw them when they got back and was upset to find that they had been broken into. She has been putting them up since and trying to help them organise replacement documents and clothing.

Mr Barth said the pair had just finished their final exams at school and were taking a gap year. They came to New Zealand mainly because of its beauty and nature and partly because they felt it was a safe country to travel in. They knew there was a risk of having their vehicle broken into so covered their possessions with a black blanket before leaving the car park.

Ms Resch said her car was parked right next to the pair's vehicle - and it even had her wallet visible on the seat - but the tourists' vehicle was the only one broken into.

She said a group Germans were waiting at the car for the two tourists to return as they realised their car had been broken into before they arrived at 3.15pm. Ms Resch is angry at the theft, but said it's not the first time she has had to help German tourists who have lost everything to theft on the Tutukaka Coast after a similar experience several years ago.

The theft has been reported to the police and the pair now have "major troubles" getting replacement documents. They were due to leave New Zealand in early May but Mr Pommer is considering whether to leave as soon as he can get is passport and other documents sorted.

Mr Barth said the pair had been to the Tutukaka Surf Company in Tutukaka earlier that day to arrange a surf lesson and he wondered if they had been followed after somebody saw them there as it appears they were targeted because their vehicle was the only one broken into.

Ms Pommer urged anybody with information on the thefts, or who may have found any of their belongings or documents, to get in touch with Whangarei police on 09 4304500.