The owners of a Te Puke backpackers are still in shock after their guests lit their Christmas tree on fire and disabled their fire alarms, filling the place with smoke while others slept.

Walter Hutchins and Tracey Wallace-Hutchins were called to their Hairy Berry Backpacker Hostel at 1.30am on Sunday last week where the travellers had evacuated and their large commercial Christmas tree lay burnt at the front door.

Mrs Wallace-Hutchins said she had never seen such "destructive and dangerous actions" in their 10 years owning the property.

"We've had people have parties and farewells but not this serious ... The whole place could've gone up.


"We're still in shock."

They evicted 23 of the backpackers, mostly German and French travellers, who had now moved on to other hostels around the country.

The tourists had been staying in Te Puke for a couple of months, working at local kiwifruit orchards and had been good guests until that point, she said.

A guest who woke up to the smoke and left the hostel called the couple to alert them to the incident.

"There was a horrible smell."

The full extent of the damage was not yet known.

The guests shared photos on social media and Mrs Wallace-Hutchins wondered what inspired people to brag about damage they inflicted.

"Who burns a Christmas tree days before Christmas and endangers the lives of people and brags about it?" she asked.


Te Puke firefighters were called to the fire at 2.54am but only stayed for 14 minutes.

Chief fire officer Glenn Williams said the fire was extinguished by the time the crew arrived.