French tourists lose everything as car is stolen

20:37, Jun 22 2014
gelis and constans
BEREFT: French tourists, Adrien Gelis, front left, and Loic Constans had their car and possessions stolen at a Nelson supermarket carpark yesterday. Local resident Duncan MacFarlane saw their plight and is hosting them.

Two French tourists who breezed into Nelson yesterday have been left distraught and furious that their car and possessions were swiped from a supermarket car park.

A third tourist who was with them is already on his way out of New Zealand.

Loic Constans and Adrien Gelis had been on their way to Christchurch and had made a special detour to Nelson from the Picton ferry yesterday to drop off a French backpacker they had just met. 

They pulled into the Countdown supermarket off Halifax St to stock up on some food supplies, locked their Subaru Legacy car, but returned to the car park to find it gone.

At precisely that moment Nelson man Duncan MacFarlane pulled into the car park in the identical type of car  – a green 1996 Subaru Legacy Grand Wagon. The tourists’ brief moment of joy that their car had been returned was soon dashed.

MacFarlane said he could tell from their body language something was wrong, so stopped to help.


‘‘They had their shopping bags in their hands, and there were tears. Lots of tears.’’

MacFarlane took them home, where they remained today, trying to figure out their next step. All they have been left are the clothes they are in, and their passports and credits cards they had with them while shopping.

Constans, 20, and Gelis, 21, both from Toulouse in southern France, had been on their way to Christchurch where they planned to get work building. They arrived in New Zealand in February and have worked their way down the country, but their experience in Nelson has made them want to go back home early. 

They said it was too expensive in New Zealand to stay in the short term and earn enough to cover the cost of accommodation, food and clothing.

Items stolen with the car included several hundred dollars in cash, iPads cameras and clothing.

‘‘I don’t care about the car, but I want my photos back,’’ Constans said.

The French backpacker they met on the ferry, who they knew only as Pierre, also had all his gear stolen. He was now making his way to Christchurch to catch a flight to Sydney on Monday.

Constans said they had wanted to come to New Zealand to fulfil a dream they had of a place that was ‘‘pure’’, played great rugby and which was so far away.

Gelis believed the type of car was a particular target because it seemed easy to break into.

‘‘Someone tried to steal it in Auckland where we bought it. I did like New Zealand, but now...,’’ he said, visibly upset.

MacFarlane took them to Morrison St Cafe for coffee and breakfast today to try and soften the blow.


If you have seen the green 1996 Subaru Legacy Grand Wagon, registration YX 8359 contact the Nelson police on 03 546 3840

The Nelson Mail