An American tourist has been left with little more than the clothes on her back after her car was stolen with all her belongings inside - including her beloved ukulele, and her camera full of travel snaps.

Danica Klas, 21, from Oregon, doesn't even have a pair of shoes - everything she owned, including her backpack full of clothes, sleeping bag, her ukulele, camera, and iPad, were inside the car. She's been left with the dress she was wearing, her phone, wallet, a journal, and her passport.

American tourist Danica Klas says she was surprised by the theft because New Zealand felt safe.
American tourist Danica Klas says she was surprised by the theft because New Zealand felt safe.

Ms Klas has been in New Zealand since September - working in Queenstown and volunteering on a farm in west Auckland, with a road trip in between - and was about to set off on some more adventures around the North Island when the car she's been travelling and living in was stolen while she stayed at a friend's house in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden on Saturday night.

A number of cars were broken into on Marsden Ave during the night, and Ms Klas's dark blue Subaru Legacy station wagon, registration CJY 570, was stolen.


"It was gone, and there was a car abandoned," she told the Herald today. "It had the front open, and it had apparently also been stolen and just abandoned there and then they took mine instead."

Neighbours reported hearing the car at around 3am, she said.

"It was right under the street lights, I didn't think anything would happen it ... because it's such a nice neighbourhood," Ms Klas said.

"And stupid me left my camera, my ukulele, all my electronics [inside]. The only thing I have with me, luckily, is my wallet and my phone, and a dress. I don't even have shoes."

The Canon camera had been a present for her to go travelling with - the first time Ms Klas has gone beyond her home state of Oregon's borders - and had around 5000 photos on it.

When she realised the car was gone, she said it felt "really surreal", and didn't register until she came back into her friend's house to tell them what happened.

"I came to tell these guys and I just kinda lost it, and I cried," she said.

"It's just everything, everything I've been travelling with, all my photos, everything collected, my instrument, which was really dear to me."

She added: "I had like shells and rocks I collected, just things that may not seem of value to other people but are really important to me.

"I don't think it's worth anything to them, so if my car turns up somewhere maybe my stuff will still be in it."

She was surprised by the theft because New Zealand felt safe, she said, and she had left the car for five days while she trekked in Abel Tasman National Park with no problems.

"I was just saying yesterday that it's so good travelling in New Zealand because it's so safe, nothing bad happens, and then the next day this happened."

She reported the theft to police, but says she "doesn't have a lot of hope".

Ms Klas fought back tears as she delivered this message to the car thieves: "If they want the engine, they can have the engine. I just really want my photos back and some clothes, and my instrument, and all the things that people gave me while I was travelling New Zealand that I won't be able to [replace].

"That would be really nice if I could have that stuff back."

For now her travel plans have been put on hold - she's ringing travel agents to cancel her tickets for Hobbiton and a White Island tour which she had booked in advance - as she weighs up her options. But once thing's for sure, she's not leaving New Zealand because of it.

"I don't think I would want to leave too early, just because I love it here. I only get one year here and I don't want to waste it. I don't want them to ruin my trip."