Another Attack on Camper Van Tourists

News agencies are publishing reports of another attack on tourists camping in New Zealand.

News agencies are publishing reports of another attack on tourists camping in New Zealand.

Two British women camping near the beach at Tokomaru Bay, north of Gisborne were subjected to a 2 hour long sexual assault by a man who forced his way into their hired camper van. The attack was brought to a sudden end when a text message was sent to one of the women.

Source: NewstalkZB, Monday 1 Sept, 2008

“The country’s largest camper van operator is reassuring the public its vehicles are secure, after the sexual assaults of two tourists on the East Coast.

The young British women were subjected to a two hour assault when a man forced his way into their unlocked camper van, which was parked by the beach in Tokomaru Bay on Friday morning.

Tourism Holdings chief executive Trevor Hall says customer safety is top priority for the company. He says all tourists who rent the company’s vans are told to stay only at camp sites.

Mr Hall says unfortunately, the women were not parked at a contained camp site, compromising their safety.

Tourism Holdings owns Maui, Britz and Backpacker Rentals, making it the biggest camper van operator in New Zealand.”

But it would seem tourists aren’t being told why they should only park at contained camp sites. A man later handed himself in and will appear in Gisborne District Court this afternoon to face three charges of sexual violation and two of assault in regards to the attack.

Source: NZ Herald, Monday Sept 1, 2008

“We consider ourselves to be one big family up the Coast, and everybody thinks it is just horrible that it could happen here,” said Jenny Jones, who works at the Tokomaru Bay dairy and camping ground.

“We like to consider ourselves a safe community.”

But whilst some are warning about ‘free camping’ she seemed to welcome the money it brings:

“She said she was concerned the attack could give the area a bad name, which would be “devastating”. “We like freedom campers. They stay and spend money … it’s good for us.”

This is just the latest incident in a history of assaults on tourists and visitors to New Zealand. Yet some tourisism based businesses persist in marketing the country as a safe tourism destination, this may be causing many visitors to not be as careful about their personal safety as they should be.

These are just a few of the recent assaults on tourists. Links are given to articles, please exercise discretion when viewing as some of the details of the crimes are quite graphic.

January 2008
Scottish tourist Karen Aim was murdered whilst walking home at night in Taupo A youth who was 14 years old at the time is charged with her murder.

March 2008
A Canadian tourist sustained a fractured skull after a beating in Taupo

“Police said the tourist was knocked unconscious and robbed outside the Silver Fern backpackers hostel in Tamamutu St at 4am.

Senior Sergeant Tony Jeurissen said there was no link between the weekend’s assaults and Ms Aim’s murder on January 16, about 112 kilometres away from the latest incidents.

Assaults happened in all New Zealand centres, he said. Society should be concerned at the level of violence that took place every weekend. “What happened in Taupo is not unusual from what occurs in other centres. The concern is why is it happening.”

Tourism Holdings chief executive Trevor Hall said there were isolated events of violence at many international tourist destinations. However, New Zealand’s reputation as a safe tourist destination could suffer if backpacker attacks kept happening. “

April 2008
6 English and Danish tourists were attacked by 5 males whilst walking through Cashel Mall, Christchurch. Two of those attacked received knife wounds to the chest and stomach. The attacker cited the tourists foreign accent as a reason for targeting them. See also

April 2008
Irishman Robbie O’Brien was attacked by a group of men in Westport during a 3 week trip to NZ.

“Tourism leaders are urging operators not to be afraid of warning people of the risks of travelling in New Zealand.

Robbie O’Brien, 31, was attacked by a group of men after a night out in Westport. He suffered cuts to his face and needed hospital treatment. O’Brien said he had been staying in Westport as part of a three-week trip to New Zealand and had been drinking with locals he had met.
Senior Sergeant Geoff Scott, of the Westport police, said the attack appeared to be unprovoked and happened only because O’Brien spoke with an accent.”

A Dutch couple on their honeymoon were abducted, sexually attacked and robbed of passports and other possessions at gunpoint in their camper van at the Haruru Falls near Paihia in the Bay of Islands. A week earlier they had been warned by an attendant at a gas station not to “free camp”
Source: Sept 2006

“Petrol station attendant Dion Gee said a week earlier he had warned the couple against camping in isolated areas after they asked him if there were any free places to stay.

“I said, ‘Anywhere that is free is probably not safe’,” Gee told the New Zealand Herald.

“They just kind of laughed but I said, ‘Seriously, New Zealand is not as safe as it is probably made out to be.”

October 2005
German backpacker Birgit Brauer murdered at Lucy’s Gully, southwest of New Plymouth by a man who picked her up when she was hitch hiking between Wanganui and New Plymouth. The man responsible had 65 prior convictions dating back to when he was a juvenile, and had previously raped a woman.

October 2004
British man Paul Speakman and his 12 year old son were asleep in their camper van in Athenree Gorge, near Katikati when the were assaulted by a group of 4 men high on “P” pure methamphetamine. This attack was part of a widespread orgy of violence that night when the men used crowbars to smash windows of other tourists’ vehicles, threatened and attacked their victims, stole their property and slashed their tyres to prevent them from going for help. The vehicles were left “blood-spattered and ransacked”

American campers Patrick Dykstra and Kelsey McGinley were beaten and robbed as they camped overnight in their car at crime hotspot Whangarei Falls.
source: April 3, 2004

“Yesterday, still in his hospital gown, he was ruing the decision not to find a backpackers’ lodge. Mr Dykstra said they had no inkling they might be unsafe.”We were surprised, certainly. We didn’t expect anything like this, or we wouldn’t have been sleeping in the car. “We just assumed because New Zealand has such a big backpacker culture that it was safe, so we thought the waterfalls was an all-right place to sleep. We didn’t think twice.”

Missing Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.
Update: Tuesday 24 June 08

“Police engaged on the inquiry into missing Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon KIM have today arrested 2 men and jointly charged them with the murder of Mr Kim at Charleston in late 2003.

Inquiry Head, Detective Inspector John Winter, said that Operation JERICHO had been launched to achieve a break-in to the wall of silence that confronted police. That operation had paid dividends and police were now exploiting the initial success.”
Link: NZ Police

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