Four German backpackers whose car and precious possessions were stolen at a beach north of Auckland have recovered their vehicle.

But their passports, travel documents and other personal items had been taken.

The four women had been at Goat Island marine reserve near Leigh enjoying a day at the beach on Saturday when they discovered at 5pm their car had been taken.

The damaged vehicle minus their belongings was found by police overnight not far from where it went missing.

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A car belonging to the German tourists was stolen from the Goat Island Reserve. Photo / Supplied
A car belonging to the German tourists was stolen from the Goat Island Reserve. Photo / Supplied

Lea Uebelhoer said the group was extremely relieved their vehicle had been recovered despite the missing possessions.

"I think we are definitely [happy] that the car was found but.. there was a lot of stuff taken out which, of course it is sad, but still we have the car which helps us because it is an easy way to get around," she said.

"But a lot of personal belongings and all the memories are gone like the camera and the photos."

Rodney police area prevention manager Senior Sergeant Glenn Adkin said the car was found on Pakiri River Rd, not far from where it had been taken. He said it had suffered some damage.

"The rear quarter light window had been smashed on the car so that is how they got in and the ignition had been damaged. [There were] a few other pieces of damage on the car but the vehicle has been recovered by police."

Two of the women lost their passports, credit cards, international driver licences and camping equipment.

Another lost a bracelet from her grandmother, her graduation jumper that had been signed by her high school friends, and her camera containing pictures she had taken in New Zealand.

Mr Adkin said police were now working to identify those responsible for the theft and said if the women's possessions were handed in, they would be immediately returned.

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"Within the last hour, we have just finished finger printing it so we have recovered some finger prints from the car which we are going to send off for comparison and there are a few items that we are going to have finger printed as well," he said.

The backpackers, Lara Schreyer, 18, Lena Kalbitzer, 19, Sophia Metz, 18, and Ms Uebelhoer, 18, had been in New Zealand for just over a month and planned to stay at least six months.

But they said the crime had shattered their first impressions of the country and left them feeling disoriented.

"We heard the people are so nice and gentle. That's what we got to know when we came here first, but now we don't want to leave the country with that bad memory. All the good memories are overshadowed now by the theft," Ms Metz said.

Mr Adkin urged anyone who may have seen the vehicle or with information about the theft to contact Police.