Well it’s been a glorious start to New Zealand’s first open season for hunters of Freedom Campers.
Last February the president of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, Dick Waters issued a second call for freedom campers to be “shot” if they use vans that don’t have their own toilet facilities.
Mr Waters, was reported as having said that
“Messy freedom campers who trundle around the country in sleeper vans without toilets or self-contained utilities should be “shot”.
It followed similar comments he made in January.
At the time we said effectively declaring open season on certain types of campers wasn’t going to do much to enhance the country’s tarnished reputation for visitor safety. Read Freedom Campers “Should be Shot,” 15 February 2010.
Even if Mr Waters’ comments were meant to shock, rather than be taken literally, it may cause certain elements of NZ society to feel less than ‘gracious’ towards visitors, who may now be viewed as little more than vermin. Rednecks with guns on a mission aren’t a good combination, in any country.
How right we were, because it would seem that someone may have taken up Mr Waters on his invitation to have a crack at campers.
A couple camping in Tamatea Point in Pakawau were lucky to escape with their lives after someone ” shot at, smashed and attempted to set fire to their campervan” at 5.50 one morning, presumably they were sleeping in it at the time.
The holidaymakers, a “44-year-old male New Zealander and a 36-year-old New Zealand-residing Chinese woman,” from Hamilton
“had earlier been verbally abused about freedom camping in the area and police say the attack may have been an “extreme, over-the-top reaction” to the practice.” Source NZ Herald
Apparently a man has been arrested in relation to the incident, charged with attempted murder and given name suppression. The Herald said that he has a holiday property on the reserve on which the campervan has been parked.
Stuff provided more in-depth coverage than the Herald, saying the both of the couple were of Chinese origin and gave the following additional information
The Tasman District Council reserve is a popular site for public beach access and there are no signs banning freedom camping.
Golden Bay residents are growing increasingly intolerant of issues posed by freedom campers which include littering and defecating in public places.
The intolerance came to a head last month when the Golden Bay Community Board made an urgent request to the Tasman District Council to have a compliance officer based in the bay to monitor problems. A council officer is monitoring the bay during January and February.
In April last year, freedom campers were forced off land near the Waitapu Bridge spot by angry Golden Bay local…” more here
The have been plenty of other incidents recently where tourists have been attacked and robbed whilst using campervans but this is the first we’ve heard of where an attempt has been made to burn them out. Read Welsh Couple Left Without a Penny in New Plymouth 7 January 2011.
In another incident last year a couple of campers at Haast Beach were threatened and when they moved into Haast township were threatened again.
Months from now thousands of world cup rugby fans will be descending on New Zealand, eager to hire out campervans and totally unaware of the risks they are taking by not using authorised campsites.
Neither are they aware that they will be targeted by thieves if they leave their vehicles in public car parks or on the roadside. It would be a bit rough to loose those prized match tickets in addition to cameras, iPods, treasured holiday snaps, passports and credit cards.
We think mass public information campaigns are needed, and fast.
One to warn tourists about the dangers and how to keep themselves safe and another to encourage locals in New Zealand to have a more relaxed and accommodating attitude towards visitors.
Hug a camper today.
It must be summer in New Zealand because a couple of Welsh holidaymakers are the latest tourists to appear in another New Zealand camper-van robbery story; there have been so many of them over the years.
“Michael Wright and Amy Murphy‘s latest bit of misfortune struck when thieves broke into their van at New Plymouth’s Back Beach while they were out surfing.
Passports, bank cards, ipods, drivers licences, cameras and cash were stolen. “It was just a complete shock,” Miss Murphy said yesterday. “Now we haven’t got a penny to our names.”
The Cardiff pair found their van ransacked after they had spent an hour and a half in the late afternoon surf. “Everything was all over the place. They had been in everywhere and all through our backpacks,” Miss Murphy said.
She was surprised nobody had spotted the thieves…” source
The previous similar story we commented on was the two US soldiers Eli and Tonia Gerhard that were robbed in Kaikoura last week. The young couple were taking a well earned break from the conflict and crime of Afghanistan. They must have thought that New Zealand would have been the last place on earth where they would have been robbed blind.
A few weeks before that British couple Jake Graham and Jess Kelly were also robbed in New Plymouth when their campervan was broken into and they lost almost everything they owned. Read more here
But there have been so many of these types of robberies in New Zealand haven’t there, you’d think that word would have got out by now?
Always it’s the same type of belongings that are stolen (cameras, money, passports, ipods, computers) tourists are obviously rich pickings in New Zealand, a country of vast inequalities and a grinding poverty in some sectors of the community that could go unnoticed by the casual observer, or be passed over for being “quaint.”
Tourist authorities really should be asking themselves are they doing enough to warn visitors not to leave their belongings in unattended vehicles. The problem is that there is such a widespread misconception that New Zealand is a safe, tourist friendly safe place to holiday that some people are unwittingly leaving themselves open to theft, sometimes accompanied by assault and battery. As in the case of the French tourists who pulled-over to sleep one evening. Read more here.
Would it take a lot to fit hidden safes or security boxes in these vehicles? or for tourists to have access to short term safety deposit boxes, rather like mailboxes at post offices? A few more signs in car parks warning about thieves would probably be a good idea too.
Other stories you may be interested in:-
“Today’s Herald is reporting on British couple Dean and Tabitha Forbes who lost most of their possessions whilst on a pre-emigration trip to Auckland, New Zealand…”
“”An English family who came to New Zealand to make a fresh start were left with only the clothes on their backs when their motel was burgled two days after they arrived.
Dawn and Conrad Tutin and their children Stephanie, 14, and Kiel, 12, arrived from Nottingham a week ago to begin a new life in Auckland, where Mr Tutin will work for Fisher & Paykel…””
“Earlier today we wrote about honeymooning couple Simon and Sabine Greenslade whose campervan was robbed of outside of Auckland Zoo, losing most of their holiday and honeymooning photographs amongst other possessions.
We’ve also heard about another young British couple, Jake Graham and Jess Kelly,whose campervan was also broken into and who lost almost everything they owned in New Plymouth yesterday afternoon…”
Czech Tourist, Jan Fakotor, Stabbed In Motueka
English tourist mugged in Gisborne
Chilean tourist punched, robbed in Nelson
A group of students that were beaten and robbed whilst on a treasure hunt at the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa, Northland
A series of random, unprovoked attacks in Queenstown
Previous robbery of British tourists at Kerosene Creek
Tourists robbed at Kerosene Creek
Three French tourists beaten and robbed in their campervan in Mangamuka, Northland - police have yet to resolve this crime
A family of Swiss tourists that were assaulted and racially abused in Kaitaia, Northland
Anke Kuballa and Marc Busch from Germany who were robbed in Whangarei, Northland
Two German tourists attacked in Paihia, Northland
Asian woman, (probably Japanese) age 22, raped in her room by 2 teenagers in a home invasion in Opotiki, Northland
Three Chinese tourists attacked and robbed at Te paki, 90 Mile Beach, Northland, by two men they’d stopped to help
French tourist Anthony Cressend, beaten and robbed at campsite in Ahipara, Northland
Two Australian tourists robbed at knifepoint for their holiday money in Te Puke, SE of Tauranga.
Japanese tourist age 23 (female) kidnapped, robbed and assaulted in Rotorua by four men
French tourist (male) raped at gunpoint near Opotiki,
American peace corp twins Adam and Alex Rahmlow, 21 were robbed of all their possessions by a man they tried to help in Amberley, Christchurch.
Dutch couple raped and robbed on a campsite in Tuatapere, NW of Invercargill, whilst on their honeymoon. (Dutch govt. issued a travel warning about NZ)
Two Koreans were attacked and robbed of their possession which included a laptop computer by a man claiming to be a gang member in Blenheim.
British tourist worker sexually assaulted near Hururu Falls, Northland when she was dragged off a walking track.
Canadian tourist Jeremie Kawerninski, kidnapped, assaulted and robbed in Lower Hutt, Wellington
Dutch couple robbed and sexually attacked Haruru Falls, Northland whilst on honeymoon.
Two British women robbed and raped in their campervan at Tokomaru Bay, north of Gisborne.
Japanese tourist subjected to a prolonged and brutal sex attack in a communal area of a backpacker’s hostel in Turangi, Taupo.
Scottish woman Karen Aim brutally murdered by a youth in Taupo.
Korean man Jae Hyeon Kim decapitated with a spade by white supremacist.
Japanese tourist robbed at gunpoint in Oamaru.
Irish cycle tourist Paul Mack bashed, robbed and urinated on throughout his NZ tour.
6 English and Danish tourists attacked and stabbed in Cashel Mall, Christchurch for having “foreign accents.”
Russian couple Denis Khotchenko and Lera Nesterova beaten and robbed in Milford, Auckland
English woman knifed and sexually assaulted in a toilet block at an A1 motor camp in Kaikoura
American campers Patrick Dykstra and Kelsey McGinley beaten and robbed at Whangarei Falls, Northland.
Australian tourist sexually assaulted on a street in broad daylight in Nelson.
Australian tourist subjected to a sex attack by Maia Crawford Rongonui whilst walking home to a backpackers in Christchurch.
Canadian tourist left with a fractured skull outside Silver Fern backpackers in Taupo.
Dutch tourist beaten and robbed at Lake Rotorua.
British man Paul Speakman and his young son beaten and robbed in a campervan at Athenree Gorge, Katikati.
Chinese woman attacked for speaking Chinese on a train approaching Petone.
Scottish visitor Stuart Martin who was left in a coma and with a boot print on his face after a street bashing in Taradale, Christchurch.