After doing some research in McDonalds, a backpackers best friend with its free wifi, we started walking along the road. We were at Christchurch airport and had to get to Fairlie, a town 2,5 hours drive south west. Our transport method of the day: hitchhiking.
Starting our day of hitchhiking
During our previous trip in New Zealand we had always travelled by bus or hired a car but this time around we were on a budget and besides, we figured it was time to use one of the most beloved transport methods among backpackers in this country. So there we were, with our backpacks, hitchhiking along the highway. We stopped walking to try our luck when we found a place where cars could pull over. When the third car that passed us stopped, we could hardly believe it. Unfortunately the girl who had pulled over had to go in a different direction. When no one else stopped we decided to start walking again, after all, this was probably not the best place to hitch from. Not long after, we got lucky. A friendly elderly man pulled over, told us we were certainly not in a good place to get a ride and offered to drop us off at the edge of the city, in the suburb Hornby and along a road where he was sure someone would pick us up.
And he was right, literally 30 seconds after we had stuck out our thumbs, an Australian guy pulled over and offered us a ride to Ashburton. Perfect, that was the right direction so we gladly accepted the offer and hopped in. We had a nice chat with Aussie John and arrived safe and sound in Ashburton. By now we were quite confident and happy with the hitchhiking adventure. Because Ashburton is a town that sprawls along for many kilometres, we started walking again and when we found a spot we thought was good, we stopped and tried our luck. This time, no one stopped so we started walking again. After a while, a big workman’s car pulled over and the guy told us he would bring is to the edge of town, to a good spot to hitch from. Happy with the help we started squashing our backpacks onto the backseat. Because his car was full of junk I had to squeeze in underneath our packs. Though this ride wasn’t a long one, it certainly proved to be an interesting one when we started talking to the, very rough looking, driver of the car. He was quite happy to tell us about his grandfather’s involvement with Hitler during the second world war. We were both quite relieved when we were dropped of and out in the fresh air again. And his stories were not all that had worried Toby. For apparently I had, totally oblivious of this fact, been sitting on top of a huge Nazi flag all that time!
Learn and laugh
After having a good laugh about this event, we were ready to continue our journey. About 20 minutes later a car stopped. This time the driver was a Maori man. Middle aged, friendly and calm, he was a nice change from our previous ride. This man was a dairy farmer so we chatted about New Zealand’s milk and cows until we got to Geraldine. After being dropped of we started walking to the edge of town. So far we had learned to always be well out of the centre of town before you start hitchhiking, no one will stop when you are still too close to the centre. And of course at a spot where there is ample space for cars to pull over. Maybe people want to see that you are not too lazy to start walking in the right direction, who knows? One way or another we managed to find a lift quite fast. This time it was a young Israeli couple who picked us up. They had just arrived to New Zealand and were on their first day of a road trip around the South Island. We managed to squeeze into their small rental car and off we were. Our last ride to reach Fairlie.
Five rides, five hours and a whole lot of interesting chats later, we had made it! And we had learned a thing or two about hitchhiking in New Zealand along the way.