Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Community help leaves good memories

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French tourists  Alexandra Neumann (left), Martin Bothorel, Jean Baptiste Riviere and Marie Bocquier don't have a bad opinion of Rotorua despite their experience. Photo / Andrew Warner
French tourists Alexandra Neumann (left), Martin Bothorel, Jean Baptiste Riviere and Marie Bocquier don't have a bad opinion of Rotorua despite their experience. Photo / Andrew Warner

Rotorua has shown its generous spirit after getting behind a group of French tourists who had their van broken into and possessions stolen.

Marie Bocquier, Alexandra Neumann, Jean Baptiste Riviere and Martin Bothorel parked their van at the Rainbow Mountain car park on Sunday to explore Kerosene Creek.

When they returned, no more than two hours later, they found the windows smashed and all their gear stolen.

Among the stolen possessions were their passports, credit cards and a computer with irreplaceable photos stored on it.

Ms Bocquier said it had been an emotional few days.

"It was very stressful when it happened but we don't feel like the experience has tainted Rotorua or New Zealand. If anything it has shown us how generous and helpful the people are here. The good people here outweigh the bad," she said.

"We don't know how to thank all the people who helped us - particularly Kerry [Rotorua Planet Nomad Backpackers manager Kerry Giles] and the police officer. We consider ourselves quite lucky in the bigger picture."

Mr Giles said he was more than happy to help.

"When they came in with the police officer they were pretty stressed out and after telling me what had happened I said 'of course they can stay' and moved a couple of people around so they could have a room.

"I just told them they could stay for free so they could sort themselves out. Then I was thinking of ways to make the rest of their time in Rotorua good and contacted a few of the local attractions to sort out some passes."

He said Te Puia, Polynesian Spa and Rotorua Rafting all helped out.

"They were all pretty generous and it meant these visitors had a nice finish to their stay. It really peeves me off that a small percentage of people would do that to visitors - this group could have easily have said 'well, hell to it' and gone back to France with a poor opinion of New Zealand and Rotorua."

Polynesian Spa chief executive Gert Taljaard said he wanted to help create a final happy memory of Rotorua for the tourists.

Rotorua police confirmed the theft had been reported.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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