Two women are nursing facial injuries after a vicious pre-dawn attack near Auckland's Albert Park.
Dog walker Dan Thorpe said she and her friend were walking to work along Kitchener St last Wednesday morning when they were brutally attacked by a trio who punched and stamped on their faces before making off with a handbag, scarf and birthday gift.
The attack occurred about 6.15am last Wednesday.
Thorpe, who is still sporting bruises on her face, said she and her friend tried to fend off two men and a woman who punched and stomped on them on a central-city footpath.
The pair, in their 20s, found themselves overpowered; resorting to screaming to wake up inner-city apartment dwellers after they were hurled to the footpath and had their heads stamped on repeatedly during the nightmare ordeal.
At least one person heard the women's cries for help and managed to get the getaway vehicle's registration plate.
Thorpe said she had noticed a car pull up ahead of them and turn off its lights moments before they were bashed on the central city street.
As they walked past, a hooded man got out of the vehicle and demanded she hand over her handbag.
When she refused, he launched into a brutal attack, punching her and stamping on her face.
"As we were walking past, a guy asked me for my bag and punched me around the face."
Her friend was grabbed from behind and dragged to the ground by an accomplice when she tried to intervene.
They screamed for help and she eventually relinquished her handbag. The attackers sped off.
Her handbag was found just a minute away from where the attack took place.
"Honestly, it was horrific," said Thorpe.
"I want people to be aware even when you walk in pairs you think you're safe but clearly you are not."
Detective Sergeant Nina Pedersen, of Auckland City Police, said officers were following lines of inquiry and urged anyone who may have seen or heard the attack to come forward.
Anyone who may have information that may help authorities is also encouraged to contact police immediately.
Can you help? Call Auckland City Police: (09) 302 6400 or CrimeStoppers Anonymous: 0800 555 111.