An international exchange student is offering a $3000 reward for the return of a stolen laptop containing vital university work and photos.

Nathan Merryfield, from Worcester in the United Kingdom, was in the South Island travelling with four friends when their rental van was broken into and their valuables stolen the night before they were due to head back to Auckland.

The incident happened as the group were out drinking at a Christchurch bar. The van was parked in a nearby lot in the city centre.

"We came back around 2am, and I was on my own at the start... and I just saw all of my clothes scattered around the side of the van," said Mr Merryfield. "I thought, OK, something's not right. I opened the door ... and saw five full bags had all gone."


Mr Merryfield, who is spending six months studying at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Mt Albert, said the thieves had broken into the van through the driver's side window.

Among the items stolen was the 20-year-old's Macbook laptop, which contained two years of his university work and all the photos he had taken in New Zealand. Without the university work, he said, he would be unable to pass his degree.

Now the desperate Briton is offering the $3000 reward for the return of the laptop.

"If I don't get it back then I basically don't pass university. Nothing is backed up on my Mac either because we had no internet. There were personal photos as well of me and my family which I can't get back."

Mr Merryfield said he had managed to lock his laptop using his iPhone which would make it useless to anyone trying to use it.

"Even if somebody wanted to use it, they can't because it is on lockdown. They can't get past that. They can't use it, so they are probably just going to throw it away.

"That is why I would much rather try to get a message out saying if you do have it, just hand it in and I will give you the money. Even if it is anonymous. I am pleading for it [to be returned]."

Mr Merryfield said the theft had ruined not just his two-week trip to the South Island "but my whole being in New Zealand, the whole experience".

"I had pictures since day one up until this point. I have got nothing to show for my time here and unless I can get this back, I can't progress with my education."

Mr Merryfield said the theft had been reported to the police but they told him it was unlikely his belongings would be retrieved.

He asked for anyone with information on the stolen items to call the police.