A British couple who had all their most valuable belongings stolen from their campervan have traced their phone to an apartment block but can't get to it.

Now they're stranded in Auckland, formerly Alexandra Petersen's favourite city, without their most precious possessions because the office of the British Consulate in Auckland is shut until next year.

On Boxing Day, the 27-year-old and her partner, Chris Nevin, 36, were nearing the end of a six-week trip, which included a month travelling around New Zealand in a campervan.

The County Durham couple toured the country, visiting all the sites and stopped in at Petersen's grandparents' home in Waimate, Canterbury, taking lots of photos along the way.

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Auckland was their last stop before flying to Hong Kong for New Year's Eve.

"It used to be my favourite city. It always seemed so light, so safe. But I haven't been here for three years and since we've arrived it seems to have changed quite a bit.

"It doesn't seem anywhere as nice or as clean as it used to be."

They arrived at their hotel on Hobson St on December 26 but it didn't have a carpark available for a campervan so they parked in a Wilson carpark nearby while they checked in.

Not five minutes later, the couple went to move the camper but it had been broken into.

Everything of value was gone: passports, cameras, Samsung cellphones and a laptop. Items totalling $12,000 were all taken.

"But for me, the most important thing was all the photographs. All the photos we'd taken on this trip and they'd taken my hard-drive as well which had all my documents and photos and all my life. Everything was gone."

The couple immediately called the police and tried to contact the British Consulate to get emergency passports, but were told it doesn't open until January.

So they're stranded in New Zealand until then.

However, they know exactly which building their belongings are in - Vincent House at 142 Vincent St - it's just a six-minute walk from their hotel, right by the police station.

The Herald is attempting to contact the building's management.

The couple used the phone tracking tool on the Samsung website to trace Petersen's phone to an apartment building on Vincent St, however, they don't know exactly which unit it is, so they can't go retrieve it.

"You kind of feel violated, you feel like they've gone through your whole life ... I feel like my whole life is in someone else's hands and we can't get it back."

Samsung has also given them a list of the last 50 numbers called by the phone and so the pair have contacted a few of the people themselves.

One person told them they'd "see what they can do".

All they want is their passports and photos back and are offering a reward. The thieves can keep the rest, Petersen said.

A police spokeswoman said police yesterday conducted door knocks at all the apartments at the address but didn't locate the stolen items.

However, police were continuing to work with the victims and are making enquiries.

Petersen said even if they don't get their belongings back, at the very least they could warn others. Her advice:

• Note down all the serial numbers of all electronics
• Photocopy all your important documents, especially your passports
• Back-up all your photos to cloud storage online
• If you're unsure about an area, always have one person in the car.