American tourists harassed, van destroyed by 'rude and angry' Kiwis

A pair of American tourists who have been travelling around New Zealand say they have been victims of bullying, harassment and vandalism since their arrival.  

The pair, from Colorado, were initially excited to visit a country which they say has a reputation for "kind and friendly" people.  

However, since being in New Zealand the couple claim they have been yelled at, had their windows smashed in, and endured several encounters with whom they describe as "rude and angry" Kiwis.  

The tourists have had seven windows on their van randomly smashed in by a group of Kiwis.
The tourists have had seven windows on their van randomly smashed in by a group of Kiwis. Photo credit: Supplied

Dorit Liss, 27, and her partner, 29, arrived in New Zealand at the end of October, and are known on social media for sharing their adventures living and travelling out of vans.  

Liss took to her Instagram to share her frustration with Kiwis after a string of bad experiences.  

"I am so tired of being unwanted in this country. F**k New Zealand," she wrote on Instagram. "We were so excited to come here and it's beautiful, but the people are so awful," she said. 

"This place doesn't want us, we want to leave so bad." 

Liss told Newshub the harassment had been so bad, she'd started experiencing regular panic attacks.  

"It all started pretty much the moment we arrived in New Zealand. We came here at the end of October and started our travels in Auckland which is where we bought the RV," she said.  

"Almost straight away we had people honking at us and yelling at us all the time. 

"We then started heading south, down the centre of the country, through Taupō and Rotorua," she said. "The further south we went, the worse things started getting for us."  

Dorit Liss and her partner planned to stay in New Zealand for a year on working holiday visas.
Dorit Liss and her partner planned to stay in New Zealand for a year on working holiday visas. Photo credit: Supplied

She said since arriving in Christchurch, she and her partner have been harassed "nearly every night."  

"On a couple of occasions, we were in a self-contained parking lot, and people would come through at about 2am, yelling, screaming, and banging on our van in the middle of the night," Liss said.  

"We also get honked everywhere, and it's never a friendly honk, it's always at strange times of the night."  

She said she didn't expect people in New Zealand to be rude to travellers.   

"Well at first, we were like, 'Okay, it must just be this one city, it must just be Auckland or Northland', but then when we headed down south and kept moving it, just kept happening.   

"We were like, 'What is going on? Is it us? Do people hate us?' 

"We got to the point where we were like, 'Okay, they must just not like travellers'. Maybe there's this universal vendetta against people in vans now," she told Newshub.  

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She said the couple have been "very careful" in ensuring that campervans are legally allowed at the places they are staying. 

"We've been checking the council maps on where we can stay," she said. "We are always so careful about that because in America you have to understand the rules when you go camping, so here we understand that you can only stay where it's legal to stay."  

She said she came across the Red Zone when searching online for places to park up.  

"It was nice being in the Red Zone, because a lot of the self-contained designated spots were in the middle of the town and super noisy and well-lit," she said. "So, we chose that area because we were like, 'Okay, we aren't in front of anyone's house, no one will see us and be annoyed that we are there'."  

Liss said she and her partner had been "extra careful" following a negative encounter in Nelson. 

"While we were in Nelson, we had a woman yell at us to leave her neighbourhood even though we were legally allowed to be there, and it was just for one night," she explained.  

"We never wanted that happening again, or to have someone just glaring at us through their window - so the Red Zone felt really safe," she added.  

However, things took an unexpected turn for the couple on January 8.  

'By the time we realised what had happened it was too late'  

"It was about 5:45am in the morning, and we heard someone pull up and we heard someone yell - but those are all things we had experienced at this point.  Since I was still half-asleep, I didn't think much of it," Liss said.  

"I felt there was no point in interacting with them, since I didn't have a weapon or anything. 

"We heard something that sounded like smashing, but we just thought perhaps they had maybe been throwing bottles at the RV (recreational vehicle)," she said.  

"It wasn't until my partner jolted out of bed that he told me they had got the windows. I just immediately had a panic attack; I immediately woke up. 

"We couldn't believe someone could hate us that much to violate our home while we were sleeping," she said. "I just cried and cried into my partner's arms."  

She said the group of teenagers inside the car sped off immediately afterwards.  

"By the time we realised what had happened it was too late - the vehicle was already driving away so the only detail about them we could really give to police was the colour of their car."  

Newshub approached police, who confirmed they received reports of the incident.  

"I can confirm that on January 8 police received a report of wilful damage to a vehicle parked on Stour Drive, Burwood that had occurred in the early hours of that morning," a spokesperson said.  

The RV van has been their new home since moving to New Zealand in October last year.
The RV van has been their new home since moving to New Zealand in October last year. Photo credit: Supplied

Liss said all the windows on the driver's side of their van were "completely destroyed."  

"The driver door window, the living room window and then the bathroom window. Each of those were two panes, so it was seven windows in total that they smashed," she explained.  

"Two of the windows they can custom-make again, but because it's a 40-year-old RV, three of them are irreplaceable because they can't make that curved glass anymore."  

A week later, the couple say they still haven't been able to find anything to sufficiently replace their broken windows.  

They said travelling on the road or motorway is "scary" and the wind at night makes them feel like they are inside "a huge drum."   

"It's so loud, we just can't move around anymore now. We drove like 10 minutes on the motorway, and it was just horrifying, all we could hear was this really loud banging."  

Parking lot problems  

"We stayed near this rugby field the next night, and it was like 8am and we were having breakfast at the table when this man just came running up to us and yelling," she said.  

"He yelled, 'It's you lot that are the problem, you are the ones that are giving us the bad name.  

"He told us he had called the council on us and reported our plate, and it was just shocking to us to be approached like that so early in the morning. 

"It was right after we had just had our windows smashed, we can't seem to catch a breath - it's like every day I'm just waiting for something horrible to happen, and it does every day."  

Liss said she's never struggled with anxiety or depression until now.  

"I've just been having anxiety attacks literally at the drop of a hat," she said. "My partner accidentally pressed the horn the other day and it gave me an instant panic attack."  

The pair admitted they were really excited for their travels when they first arrived in New Zealand.
The pair admitted they were really excited for their travels when they first arrived in New Zealand. Photo credit: Supplied

However, she said she has come across a "small amount" of kindness while staying here.  

"Somebody who has been following me on social media for like a year now happened to live in Ohoka, and reached out to me to help out with our van," she said.  

"It's good to know that it's possible for people in New Zealand to be kind, even though we have only met about three of them," she laughed.   

"It felt so good to meet people that weren't out to get us."   

She said she's still confused as to why New Zealanders seemingly don't react well to travellers.  

"We're young but we aren't that young, we don't look like we are trouble, we don't look like we are on drugs, and we don't look like we are about to be a trouble to the neighbourhood," she said.  

"We just look like every other pair of travellers we have seen in a van. I don't know why we get so much hate." 

The pair are currently in Rangiora, and plan on leaving as soon as they can. Liss said their plan is to fix their van, sell it, and "get out of here." 

"Our original plan was to stay here for a year on the working holiday visa, but at this point we just both feel so unsafe and anxiety-ridden that we are just experiencing one thing after another. 

"I don't want to make it another month, I don't want to be anxious every time I have to park somewhere or worry that someone is going to come and break our windows again. I'm tired of being terrified all the time, so we are just going to leave. 

"It really, really sucks because we worked so hard to be here. We had to sell so many of our things, say goodbye to family and loved ones, and come all the way across the world," she said. 

"It's not working out, and it's just not worth it for our mental health."  

Police urge anyone with information that could open new lines of enquiry to contact police on 105, or online using Update Report, referencing file number 240108/5970.