Belgians Pierre-Yves de Ryckel and Amandine Tirtiaux were on their way to the South Island when they lost everything.

Mr de Ryckel is now looking for work to make enough money to buy a new plane ticket.

The couple had been in New Zealand since late last year. Mr de Ryckel bought a white Subaru Legacy - registration UI8731 - and set off on a move to Dunedin with everything in the car. They went for a 20-minute swim at Kerosene Creek, near Rotorua, and came back to find the car gone - and left with only their swimwear. Ms Tirtiaux cried.

"It's more than the luggage that they stole, you know? It's our travels. It's not material - it's more than our clothes or anything," she said.

Advertisement

They got help from Taupo police before hitchhiking to Auckland, and they say everyone along the way was helpful.

They are staying with a family friend while they sort out new passports, and despite their ordeal, say they will recommend New Zealand to friends back home.

"It's an incredible country. There's no country like this - it has to be visited," Mr de Ryckel said. "But be very careful."

- NZ Herald staff