Vandals cut brakelines of freedom campers' vehicles in Gisborne

Gisborne police are calling an act of vandalism against a group of German freedom campers "dangerous" and "blockhead behaviour".

The brake lines were cut to not just one, but all three of their vehicles.

The young group of friends from Germany are on a trip of a lifetime, travelling and working their way around New Zealand.

They'd been enjoying an afternoon at Gisborne's Makorori Beach on Sunday, but when they went to leave, they found a problem - their brakes didn't work.

"Put the brake down to the floor and I said, 'No, okay I can't drive with it,'" says Stephan Krogmann.

It wasn't until the next day they discovered all three of their vehicles had the same issue.

"At first we thought maybe it was a mechanical issue," says Birte Grutzmacher. "But when we found out this was done on purpose we were very shocked."

They called out the local mechanic, Mike Virtue from Star Service Centre, who confirmed the brake lines had been deliberately cut.

The roads there are hilly and winding and it could have been very dangerous.

"I think we were a bit scared about what happened," says Mr Krogmann.

But it hasn't tarnished his opinion of New Zealand.

"It can happen in every other country. Also in Germany, there are all the time crazy people, idiots around."

Freedom camping has caused some controversy, but these tourists hadn't done anything wrong.

A quick search of the council website shows Makorori Beach is a designated freedom camping site. There are just some simple rules:

  • Maximum stay, three nights
  • Use the public toilets
  • Leave only your footprints

"We weren't in trouble with anyone, so we just wanted to know why, why he wanted to hurt us on purpose," says Ms Grutzmacher.

The local community has made amends. Repco provided the car parts for free and Star Service Centre carried out the repairs without charge. The group of friends say they're very grateful and the incident won't spoil their holiday.

Police say the offender could face a range of serious charges. They're urging anyone with information to call the Gisborne central police station on (06) 869 0200.