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McKinnon and his 32-year-old Canadian fiancee were asleep in their campervan at the Te Toto Gorge carpark in Raglan when they were woken by a stranger banging on the window early today, The Age has reported.
Earlier today, a body was found in a stolen campervan in Gordonton, 80km from Raglan. The gunman is believed to be on the run, sparking a police manhunt in Waikato.
Police have confirmed a homicide inquiry is under way.
It is understood the stranger demanded the key to the couple's campervan.
The Australian man was then shot more than once. His terrified partner managed to escape and run for help.
Authorities were initially called to a "serious incident'' at 3.20am on Whaanga Rd in Raglan and police are appealing to the public for any information.
They say the stolen vehicle - a White 2017 Toyota Hiace ZL registration KWF362 - was driven from Whaanga Road to Gordonton Rd early today. The 80km journey takes about 75 minutes to drive.
"If you think you have seen this vehicle or have information that may be helpful please contact Hamilton Police on (07) 858-6200."
Inspector Graham Pitkethley said police were conducting inquiries to establish the circumstances of the tourist's death.
A spokeswoman for St John said they were called to the Gordonton incident at 8.11am and sent an ambulance and rapid response vehicle. She was not able to provide any more details.
One man told The New Zealand Herald there were easily a half dozen marked police cars cordoning off the road with flashing lights this morning. Officers from the Armed Offenders Squad with AR15s were on the side of the road.
Another person said there was a large, dark helicopter hovering over the Gordonton area earlier in the morning.
The St John spokeswoman said they were called to the Raglan incident by police about 3.15am, but were stood down shortly after.
A farmer about 10 minutes away from Te Toto Gorge lookout said the area was a popular tourist spot. He said there was no camping allowed, but tourists tended to regularly do so at the site regardless.