A tourist has been struck in the head from behind and robbed in Kuirau Park - prompting a warning from police about the risks of the park at night.

Two men visiting Rotorua from overseas were in the park about 10.30pm last night when a group of people approached them and asked for a cigarette.

Inspector Bruce Horne of the Rotorua police said when the tourists declined, one of them was struck on the head from behind and robbed of his tobacco.

It was yet to be determined if a weapon was used, he said.


The tourists raised the alarm at the Lava Bar, opposite the park, and police were called.
Mr Horne said the tourist was not seriously injured.

"Clearly it's not acceptable that people, particularly tourists, are confronted and harmed in this way."

He said there had been a lot of work done by the Rotorua Lakes Council in consultation with police in recent years to try to make Kuirau Park safer.

"We will be working with the council again to see if there's anything we can further do to improve it.

"The other main message, and it's one we are putting out frequently, is unfortunately a lot of people particularly tourists put their guard down when they're on holiday because they think New Zealand is a safe country, and by international standards it really is.

"Our advice to people is to remember to take precautions about your safety when you're out in public places. When you're walking through a park late at night anywhere in the world it is likely to involve some risk.

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"Kuirau Park has a long history of this sort of thing happening late at night. Short of having the police posted there 24/7 which isn't possible people need to take care and manage these situations themselves. It's like the old saying 'a bit of prevention, goes a long way'."

Mr Horne said the tourists weren't to know the area was considered unsafe.

"Our challenge is to get that message out to the tourist community."

In response to Rotorua Daily Post questions about lighting, council sports and recreation manager Rob Pitkethley said walkway lights in the park had been disconnected many years ago.

"The walkway lights were decommissioned several years ago because of sulphur issues. The roads around Kuirau Park are well lit and safe."

He said the council and police worked together to prevent crime in the park by clearing foliage in the park and improving signage.

"We will continue to work with police as necessary around education."

Mr Pitkethley said there were lights at the footpools and on the internal roadways in the park.

A 25-year-old man has been charged with aggravated robbery and appeared in the Rotorua District Court today. He will reappear on April 6.