Police have confirmed a homicide inquiry is underway after an Australian tourist was murdered by a gunman trying to steal a campervan at Raglan.

"The offender is still outstanding," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley confirmed at a media conference this afternoon.

"At this stage all I can say is we're looking for a male."

All Hamilton police will be armed while the manhunt continues.

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Pitkethley confirmed the murdered tourist's Canadian female partner, 32, managed to escape the gunman in what police said was a "random attack". She ran several kilometres to find help.

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Victim in Raglan camper-van homicide named

Police were alerted at 3.20am today that a man had approached the campervan and shots were fired.

The murdered Australian man was 33-years-old. His body was found in the rented campervan at 8am at Gordonton, 80km from Raglan. The site is a 75-minute drive from the scene of the shooting.

"We are supporting the female victim who is understandably very shocked and distressed, providing her with the support and welfare she needs," Pitkethley said.

Police are appealing for sightings of the stolen campervan - a white 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL van registration KWF362 – which was travelling between Raglan and Gordonton before 8am this morning.

Police are seeking sightings of the stolen campervan - a 2017 white Toyota Hiace ZL (registration KWF362). Photo / Police
Police are seeking sightings of the stolen campervan - a 2017 white Toyota Hiace ZL (registration KWF362). Photo / Police

Police believed it was random attack by a sole offender, who would be known to members of his community.

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"Police are working through a number of leads in terms of people of interest, but again I appeal to the public that they will know who is involved in this incident, and for them to come forward and contact police as soon as possible," Pitkethley said.

"Due to the circumstance of the attack it is likely he has confided in members of his community."

There was nothing to indicate that drugs or alcohol were relevant to the fatal shooting at this early stage.

Australian tourist killed, terrified partner escaped

Earlier today an Australian tourist was fatally shot - and his terrified partner ran for several kilometres for help - in an early-morning attack by a gunman who wanted to steal their campervan at Raglan.

The Australian tourist's body was found in his rented campervan in Gordonton, 80km from Raglan.

The Herald revealed the tourists - an Australian man and a Canadian woman - were asleep in their campervan at the Te Toto Gorge carpark in Raglan when they were woken by a stranger banging on the window.

It is understood the stranger demanded the key to the couple's campervan.

The Australian male was then shot more than once.

Somehow his terrified partner managed to escape the gunman. She was able to flee and ran several kilometres for help.

Body in stolen van 80km from suspected shooting

Police said the body of a man was found in a stolen campervan abandoned on Gordonton Road, 80km away from the Raglan crime scene.

Authorities were initially called to a "serious incident" at 3.20am on Whaanga Rd in Raglan.

A lone police patrol car guards the scene of last night's shooting at Te Toto Gorge, south of Raglan. Photo / Natalie Akoorie
A lone police patrol car guards the scene of last night's shooting at Te Toto Gorge, south of Raglan. Photo / Natalie Akoorie

Police are appealing to members of the public for any information.

They say the stolen vehicle - a White 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL registration KWF362 - was driven from Whaanga Rd to Gordonton Rd this morning. The 80km journey takes about 75 minutes to drive.

Police were conducting inquiries to establish the circumstances of the death, Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.

"If you think you have seen this vehicle or have information that may be helpful please contact Hamilton Police on 07 858 6200."

Rental company confirms vehicle

Stacey Davis, executive general manager for rental operations in Australia and New Zealand at Apollo Motorhome, said Apollo was aware one of its rental campervans was involved.

"We're aware of the incident that involved one of our campers in Waikato," she said.

"We are cooperating with the authorities as the investigation continues and our thoughts are with the family at this time."

Earlier, at least four police cars, an ambulance and several armed officers had blocked off the corner of Puke Rd and Gordonton Rd around 9am.

One person said on Facebook a white campervan was parked off Puke Rd, a short distance from the intersection.

A spokeswoman for St John said they were called to the incident at 8.11am and sent an ambulance and rapid response vehicle.

One man told the Herald there was easily a half dozen marked police cars cordoning off the road with flashing lights.

There were armed officers kitted out in black clothing at the roadside, he said. Several blacked out four-wheel-drive vehicles were also on scene.

Onlookers were being waved on by police at the cordon.

Another person said there was a large, dark helicopter hovering over the Gordonton area earlier this morning. It's believed it was the police Eagle helicopter from Auckland.

Earlier, a St John ambulance spokeswoman said they were called to the Raglan incident by police around 3.15am. However, they were stood down shortly afterwards.

A police spokeswoman told the Herald police were conducting inquiries to establish the circumstances of the incidents and no other information was available.

Local chef Colin Chung, who lives in Whale Bay, said he heard a helicopter about 6.30am.

"The only time we get choppers that early is when there's someone lost at sea ... a surfer [has] gone missing or a boat going down. So I just assumed that was happening."

He said the helicopter was flying up and down the coastline.

"We got a call from a friend of ours ... whose neighbour employs a man from Te Toto Gorge, who said he'd just come to work and ... reported or found where someone was shot. He said he called police."

Chung said from Raglan that two police vehicles passed him on his way out today.

He said residents in the Te Toto Gorge area were being told to stay in their homes.

"Down the coast there - [authorities are] informing everyone to stay indoors, lock up and keep vigilant."

A farmer about 10 minutes away from the Te Toto Gorge lookout said the area was a popular tourist spot.

The Kariori Track area.
The Kariori Track area.

He said there was no camping allowed, but tourists tended to regularly do so at the site regardless.

A man at the nearby Ruapuke Motor Camp said he heard a helicopter in the area about 7.30am.

A resident about 20 minutes south of the Te Toto Gorge Lookout said just before 8.15am: "We had a big black helicopter fly over our house.

"I've just sent the kids off to school on the school bus and am wondering now if we're safe."

A spokesman for Fire and Emergency New Zealand said they were called to assist police at the scene on Whaanga Rd, Raglan. Further inquiries were referred to police.