An Australian man has been shot dead while holidaying in New Zealand.
Police say they found the body of a man in a campervan on the side of a road near Hamilton early on Friday morning.
Waikato Police Inspector Graham Pitkethley said in a statement that authorities responded to an incident at Whaanga Road, Raglan, about 3.20am on Friday.
Raglan is a small town on New Zealand's west coast, south of Auckland.
“At 3.20am, Police were notified of an incident ... where a male offender has smashed the window of a van,” Waikato Police said in a statement.
“Two occupants, a man and a woman, were inside the campervan at the time and the male offender has fired a number of shots into the vehicle, injuring the man.”
“The female victim has managed to escape from the van and flee the scene.”
Police then located the van that was earlier stolen and found the body of a man inside about 80 kilometres away in Gordonton, near Hamilton, a 75-minute drive from Raglan.
Police believe the white 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL with registration KWF362 travelled from Raglan to Waikato on Friday morning.
Police confirmed the man was a 33-year-old Australian who was travelling with a 32-year-old Canadian woman who worked in New Zealand and was reportedly his girlfriend.
It is understood the man and his companion were sleeping at the time of the shooting and the Canadian woman managed to escape and ran for several kilometres to find help.
The New Zealand Herald reports the gunman shot the Australian man “more than once” after banging on the campervan parked at Raglan, a coastal town in the North Island, and demanding the keys.
Police said they were providing support to the woman who was “shocked and distressed”.
Police embark on manhunt for the killer
The gunman is still on the loose, and police have launched a major search for him.
Police told reporters on Friday it was a tragic incident and they believe it was a random attack.
“This appears to be a random attack what we can attribute to a sole offender," Inspector Pitkethley told reporters.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are doing everything we can to locate the outstanding offender.
“The forensic examination of a vehicle and a post-mortem will be carried out later on this afternoon or tomorrow and I cannot confirm any details at this stage.”
Police are urging anybody who saw the campervan or suspicious activity between 2am and 8am to come forward.
“It is obviously concerning that we have an armed offender outstanding and we want to assure our Waikato community that our absolute priority is locating him as soon as possible and holding him to account,” Inspector Pitkethley said.
The Australian victim has not been publicly identified but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing assistance to an Australian family relating to the incident.
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