The Hitchhiker’s Promised Land – A True Story

You are standing in the prettiest place in the world. Sun is up, and filters pleasantly through an elusive variation of clouds. The camp-fire smell in your clothes reminds you of the glorious conversations and last night’s one-pot stew. This morning’s cowboy-coffee takes the edge of the relentless sand-flies’ bites, but you don’t really care:

In front of you is Mount Cook and his range of snow-capped alpine cousins. Towering so near – pouring clean, crisp water down their arms, and into the hands of the forest and the bush. Silent lakes and strong-headed rivers. Drowsy pastures and the odd farm-house. Over litter-less beaches and into the patiently pulsating Pacific Ocean. This is the last place we got to – the freshest land on the planet.

Back down again, Javi and I are setting out on an epic hitchhike down the most beautiful part of New Zealand; the West Coast of the South Island. Unfortunately without a camera...

Javi and I are setting out on an epic hitchhike down the most beautiful part of New Zealand; the West Coast of the South Island. Unfortunately without a camera…

Time is not an issue. Your thumb is the agenda, and your camp is on your back. Cars passing by allow for another tea and another story – another belly laugh. Nature talks back with subtle critters in the grass, whooshing leaves and the distant crash of tidal waves. The road is warm and life is happy. Someone always picks you up.

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New Zealand From The Road-Side

There are few modes of transport that offer the traveler a better view into the fabric of a nation than that of hitch hiking. From Jaguar-driving CEO’s to poultry-farmers in run-down trucks, I have had (and still have) the pleasure of being chauffeured from A to B by people from all walks of life. These experiences have led me to conclude that there are good people everywhere! The following is an account of my hitch from Auckland to Rotorua, a journey covering a mere 230 km.

Hitch 1

Rather than taking a bus about 45 minutes out of town to find a good spot on the motorway, I decide to take a gamble and try out a semi-dodgy spot right in the center of Auckland. I’m standing right in front of a sign illustrating the illegality of my activity with a fat line over a stick man in a circle. At least the drivers won’t see that so well then…

After 4 different cop cars have passed me, however, I realize that the Auckland Police probably have more pressing issues at hand. Nearly 40 minutes pass before a sporty old black Nissan pulls up. Young man, chatty, paying back his dues: “You see I lost my licence there for a while, nothing serious just a few speeding tickets, but that’s when I started hitching. Used to be a meek little man but that sure got me talking”.

He takes me even further than he was going himself, still only about 10 km but he sure knows his good spots. Drops me off at a perfect ramp with lots of space to pull over. In the 20 minutes I spent his car I get to hear about his latest dilemma: “My missus invited this incredibly good-looking Estonian to come stay with us and she is a stunner, I mean she is an 11 on the 10 scale, prancing around my house and hanging her g-strings in my yard and on top of that my wife only told me 2 weeks ago that she’s pregnant!”

Now where did that image go?

If only the picture was taken on this day, but no, rain, rain and more rain…

Hitch 2

As I walk to the spacious ramp I see a really old, beat-up ute parked there with the driver attending something in the cabin. Anxious to get a move on I swear under my breath and hope he’ll pull away soon. Hard to get anyone to stop when someone did already. Too bad it wasn’t for me, but then the driver sees me in his mirror, honks his horn and waves me over. My irritation turns to a big smile, how often do you go hitch-hiking and the next ride is already there waiting for you!

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