You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Less than 48 hours into their holiday, two American tourists were the victims of a "vicious and unprovoked" attack in Northland -- with one needing reconstructive surgery.
Sergeant Phil Le Comte said police were investigating the incident outside the Bay Adventurer Backpackers on Kings Road in Paihia about 3am on Saturday.
"A vicious and unprovoked attack on two male American tourists, aged 22 and 23 years respectively, resulted in both being hospitalised overnight for their injuries."
While the pair were discharged from the Bay of Islands Hospital later that day, the 22-year-old would undergo reconstructive surgery at Middlemore Hospital in the next few days, Mr Le Comte said.
He declined to comment on the nature of the injuries but said a weapon was not believed to be involved. Mr Le Comte also declined to comment on the number of people believed to be involved in the attack.
"At this time it is believed those responsible are in fact locals which is both embarrassing and disappointing to police and medical staff involved," he said.
The tourists had been socialising in the centre of town but had made their way back to the Bay Adventurer Backpackers where they were staying when the bars closed at 1am.
Mr Le Comte said they were in the courtyard of the backpackers when the attack started.
The two tourists arrived in New Zealand with an associate on January 1 with the intention of travelling throughout New Zealand for 10 days, starting in the Bay of Islands.
They were recent engineering graduates of the University of Montana.
Mr Le Comte acknowledged it did not reflect well on the region.
"It is an isolated incident that has ramifications for the Far North and New Zealand," he said.
"It's not a good look for us".
It is not the first time tourists have become victims of crime in the popular seaside town.
On the same road as Saturday's attack, three English tourists were robbed at knifepoint on April 3, 2013. The robbers took their possessions and their car.
Police appeal to any person who was in the vicinity of Kings Rd Paihia, about 3am on Saturday January 3 to contact Kerikeri Police on 09 407 9211.