Jan Burch spent four months cycling solo 5500km across the United States without a hitch.

But a few weeks into a planned New Zealand cycle trip, her bike, bags and clothes were stolen while she was staying at a Bay of Islands campground.

The touring bike stolen from Waitangi is a blue Kona Sutra with orange pannier bags on the back and a faded black bag on the front. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The touring bike stolen from Waitangi is a blue Kona Sutra with orange pannier bags on the back and a faded black bag on the front. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Now the Dunedin teacher is appealing for the return of her bike, which she says is beaten up and worth little to anyone else although it is invaluable to her.

Burch took a year off work to cycle the world. While she was in the US she met Rick Burdyshaw, from Ohio, and persuaded him to cycle the length of New Zealand with her.

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They arrived in Auckland on November 1 and pedalled up the west coast to Hokianga, then followed the Twin Coast Cycle Trail to the Bay of Islands.

They camped at Waitangi Holiday Park, planning to spend a few days exploring, but when Burdyshaw got up at 5.30am on Tuesday he discovered both bikes were missing.

Jan Burch and Rick Burdyshaw are appealing for the return of her bike, stolen from a Waitangi campground. Photo / John Stone
Jan Burch and Rick Burdyshaw are appealing for the return of her bike, stolen from a Waitangi campground. Photo / John Stone

It was still dark but he could see a trail where his bike, which had a wheel lock, had been dragged across the gravel. The trail stopped at the road but just as he was considering what to do next he saw someone cycling towards him. On his bike.

''I said, 'Hey, that's my bike'. I reached for him but he swerved away. I chased him but he got away.''

A few minutes later he asked a group of young men walking past if they had seen his bike.

They had not, but returned shortly afterwards with his bicycle, saying they had found it dumped in bushes. The GPS and tool kit were missing but it was otherwise intact.

They had no such luck with Burch's bike, however, or her clothing, food and cooking gear which were in the bike's pannier bags. The theft left her with just one set of clothes.

She said the bike was worth little — it was damaged where she had crashed into a bollard, was covered in stickers and the bags were falling apart — but it could cost as much as $4000 to replace the bike, racks and panniers.

''They'll be lucky to get $100 for it. They'll probably dump it somewhere,'' she said.

Burch said they had no ill feelings towards Northland and everyone they had met since the theft had been ''lovely''.

''I felt a bit bad because I'd told Rick New Zealand was so crime-free ... but everywhere you go there are good and bad people.''

Burdyshaw was philosophical about the premature end to their cycle tour.

''At first I was very upset and angry, but the longer I think about it, the more I accept that these things happen and we'll get over it.''

They are currently staying in Whangārei while they come up with a new holiday plan.

■ The bike is a blue Kona Sutra touring bike with the frame covered in star stickers. It has two large orange pannier bags with safety triangles on the back and a black pannier bag on the front. If you know where it is phone the police, email reporters@northernadvocate.co.nz or call/text the Advocate's Kerikeri office on 021 516 468.