Nico Lustig was keeping a secret when he and Janina Hinnear arrived in New Zealand last week. Packed away in his luggage was a $600 ring that he was planning to offer to Janina when he asked her to marry him.

Four days later, before his big proposal, it was stolen in Northland.

The couple, from Germany, had been in New Zealand for only five days when they found themselves at the police in Kaitaia to report that they had lost all but the clothes they were standing in to a thief.

They had parked their car at the campground at Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay), Ahipara, at around 11.30am on Monday to take a walk on the beach. When they returned at around 2pm they discovered that someone had smashed a window and taken their property.

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They took two large backpacks, one red and one green, a smaller grey one and a red shoulder bag.

Everything had been taken, they said, including all their clothes, a Sony Alpha 6000 camera, a 13-inch MacBook laptop computer, camping gear (including a Primus cooker) and a lot of climbing gear (including new orange rope, cams and quickdraws). And the ring.

None of the property would be covered by insurance.

Nico, a mechanical engineer, and Janina, a computer consultant, said they had been planning and saving for their four-week trip to New Zealand for about a year. This was their first destination, apart from a stop-over in Hong Kong.

They urged anyone who had seen anything or found some of their property to phone or text them on 022 351 0054 or email nicolustig@me.com. Alternatively call the Kaitaia police on (09) 408 6500.

"We don't want to judge anybody," Nico said.

"We would just be happy if we could get back some of our stuff, even a small part of it."

But especially the ring.