'A knockabout Aussie': Man, 33, shot dead in New Zealand identified as 'loveable' surfer

An Australian man shot dead in a campervan in a random attack in New Zealand, before his killer stole the vehicle and drove it for an hour with his body inside, has been identified.

Victorian Sean McKinnon, 33, was killed while sleeping in a campervan in Raglan, about 3am on Friday. A manhunt for the gunman is underway.

"This is a tragic incident. Inquiries indicate that this was a random attack," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley told reporters in Hamilton on Friday.

Police said Mr McKinnon was sleeping in the campervan with his 32-year-old Canadian fiancee when the gunman fired a number of shots into the vehicle.

She escaped and fled to a nearby property to raise the alarm, while the gunman stole the campervan with the dying Mr McKinnon inside.

Mr McKinnon was from southwest Victoria.

Sean McKinnon was shot dead while sleeping in a campervan with his fiancee. Source: Facebook

Australian Family mourns senseless killing

"He was a loveable, knockabout Aussie guy, loved his surfing," friend Julian Smith told AAP.

Mr McKinnon's sister Emmeline McKinnon told News Corp she feels "sheer helplessness".

"It’s a horrible thought to know he was alone when he died," she said.

“He would always tell you he loved you and would give you a hug."

Ms McKinnon said the killer had devastated their family. “You took away someone deeply loved and treasured,” she said.

Corangamite shire councillor Simon Illingworth told the Warrnambool Standard he had known Mr McKinnon for years through the local surfing community.

"He's just an awesome bloke, cruisy, honest, give you the shirt off his back sort of bloke," he said.

"Seanny Mac was always a legend. He would do somersaults off the Port Campbell pier with the kids. He always had time for everyone."

Police said Mr McKinnon's body was found in the stolen campervan, which was abandoned on Gordonton Road near Hamilton, about 80km away from the Raglan crime scene.

They want to hear from any witnesses who saw the campervan after the shooting – and Detective Inspector Pitkethley expects someone knows who killed Mr McKinnon.

"Due to the circumstances of the attack, it is likely that he has confided in members of his community," he said.

The gunman reportedly demanded the keys to the campervan before shooting Mr McKinnon "more than once".

Police say the gunman drove the van about 80 kilometres with Sean McKinnon's body inside. Source: Facebook

Det Insp Pitkethley said police were working on the assumption the gunman is still armed, and all police in the Waikato area would be armed until further notice.

Raglan is a small town on New Zealand's west coast, south of Auckland.

Colin Chung from Colin's Cafe at nearby Whale Bay told AAP the area is a rocky coastline and provided some of the best surf in New Zealand, but it is off the beaten track for tourists.

Sean McKinnon was sleeping in the campervan with his Canadian fiancee when he was shot. Source: Facebook

He heard helicopters in the air about 6.30am but thought it might have been about a boat in trouble.

"It stayed in the air for a long time, maybe 45 minutes," he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to Mr McKinnon's family.

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