Tens of thousands of dollars worth of property and cash belonging to Chinese tourists were stolen yesterday from a bus in Hamilton.

Detective Sergeant Mark Greene from Hamilton police said the bus had been chartered to take the tourists to Hamilton Gardens, and arrived there at about 9.30am. Police received a call about the theft about an hour later.

"Tens of thousands of dollars worth of luggage, property and various denominations of foreign currency were taken by the thieves ... ," Mr Greene said.

He said police had good leads about the crime and were hoping for a fast arrest.

"Often the negative publicity in the victims' home country can far outweigh the seriousness of the actual crime and have ramifications for the whole of the country in terms of people's confidence in New Zealand as a safe place to visit," he said. "That is why it is important we are able to catch those responsible as quickly as possible."

Meanwhile, police were asking businesses and banks to advise them of anyone suspicious trying to change large denominations of foreign currency.

"There were sums of Australian and US dollars taken, which are relatively common, but there were also significant amounts of the Chinese currency, the renminbi, stolen which should be quite distinctive.

"The renminbi comes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 and is distinctive in that it has a picture of Mao Zedong on the obverse side of each bank note."

- NZPA