Moments before Denis Khotchenko and his girlfriend were violently beaten with a metal bat, their attackers asked "Have you ever met a real gangster?"
The 25-year-old Glenfield man then took up to eight blows to the head before his attackers turned on his 20-year-old girlfriend Valeriya Nesterova, fracturing her skull and eye socket.
Yesterday the couple were both recovering in Middlemore Hospital following the violent beating which left them both needing plastic surgery.
They had been out late Monday night and stopped at Milford Beach for a drink in their car when a man approached the driver's open window.
"We started talking and he asked me for a beer," said Mr Khotchenko. "I gave him a beer and then two more (men) came up."
The men asked Mr Khotchenko what he was doing in the carpark and he told them he was just having a drink with his girlfriend.
He then asked them what they were doing and they replied: "We are just walking around bashing people".
Despite thinking it was a joke, the couple started feeling uncomfortable and Mr Khotchenko reached for his keys. They never reached the ignition.
"Two seconds later I had two hard hits on my head with a metal object.
"They hit me so hard that the third blow I didn't feel any pain."
Mr Khotchenko estimates he was hit about eight times before he opened the door and tried to get out.
"I got out of the car but I could barely stand on my feet. One of them was in front of me, another two were hitting my girlfriend.
"She was unconscious for about three seconds, then opened her eyes and started screaming, then they hit her again so she started to run.
"I wasn't able to move. One of the guys was shouting at me, asking for cash. He just hit me again with a metal bar - that's when I went from the carpark to the sand. The most awful thing was the helpless feeling."
The couple ran off in different directions.
Ms Nesterova headed towards a river inlet where she hid on the ground. She then swam through the river before climbing up a small bank and into the home of JP Pat Sampson where the police were called.
A badly injured and dazed Mr Khotchenko made his way back to his car to find everyone gone.
"I thought they might have taken her with them."
He then used his cellphone, which had been left in his car, to call the police.
When the couple were reunited at hospital, Ms Nesterova, who is not a big swimmer, told Mr Khotchenko that she was driven through the river inlet by fear.
"She didn't think twice about swimming through the basin, she was determined to get help."
"She knew she could get away from them but she said she was running because she thought they were going to kill me."
Mr Khotchenko, who has internal bleeding, cuts to his head, dents in his skull, a fractured thumb and a black eye, spoke to the Herald because he wanted people to know the attack wasn't a robbery gone wrong.
"It's complete crap," he said, adding that neither his very visible cellphone nor Mercedes was taken and the request for cash came long after the first blows. "It wasn't a robbery that went wrong, it was more like a bashing."
Ericka Rancourt, 21, and Oskar Carroll, 25, were also attacked that night about 4am as they were walking home along Lake Rd on Tuesday. She required neurosurgery and he had serious head injuries.
Meanwhile an unprovoked attack on two men at Mairangi Bay two weeks ago could be linked to the latest assaults.
A North Shore man, who did not want to be named to protect his son, said his son and a friend, aged 18 and 19, were set upon and robbed by a group of five men aged 17 to 19.
North Shore area commander Inspector Les Paterson said the inquiry team would investigate to see if there were any links.
* Four men charged with aggravated robbery during an alleged violent rampage across the North Shore had their names suppressed by a district court judge yesterday.
The four men, a 16-year-old, two 18 year-olds and a 22-year-old, were granted interim name suppression.