If you are a backpacker hitchhiking NZ to save money. You will quickly find it is one of the best ways to travel New Zealand – providing you have the time and right attitude… it helps if you don’t look to Feral ( shave, have a haircut, shower etc)
You will not only save lots of money! You will get to meet the locals – of all types?
If you follow these common sense rules you will find it very easy to hitchhike in New Zealand, it is in the Kiwi Nature to help people – especially tourists.
One thing to keep in mind as you travel through rural New Zealand, despite their scruffy looks, some of the roughest, hardest looking characters can be the safest and friendliest?
But be aware…New Zealand is not Disney Land – bad things can & do happen here… Use your B.S meter and common sense to ensure your own safety.
How To Hitchhike
- wear bright colored clothing, ( what I call ” friendly colours ” ) never browns or blacks, no leather jackets, black jumpers or hoodies – greens and blues worked well for me.
- face the traffic when hitchhiking, this gives the driver a chance to assess your personality by seeing your face clearly
- place your pack or bags beside a power pole or lay it on the ground to disguise its bulk
- travel in pairs if you can, this reassures the driver, as well as it may ensure your own safety, If they have room in the car for two people, they will stop for you.
- look friendly even if you are freezing cold and soaking wet, not many people will pick up a grumpy looking hitchhiker
- DO NOT sit down and try to hitchhike very few people will pick up a lazy hitchhiker unless of course, you are a very attractive female wearing cut-offs and a tank top then the “don’t sit down rule” is meaningless?
- Do look like a tourist, Kiwi’s love to help tourists
- look like you are interesting to talk to, but not too interesting, not many people will stop for you if you look too weird !
- look like you are good company and friendly
- write your next destination on a piece of cardboard the people who are about to pick you up like to know how long they have to put up with you.
- If you hitchhike with your surfboard, Dog, Lots of Luggage, Guitar, 3 or more people or a bad attitude, expect delays in getting a ride, but you will still find someone to pick you up in New Zealand ! It is that easy…
- before you accept a lift, quiz the driver on where they are going and where they will drop you, if they plan on dropping you outside their rural letterbox well away from towns or major intersections it may be wise to wait for another ride or ask them to drop you at a better spot before the drivers destination, many drivers (especially if they are experienced hitchhikers!) will think you got dumped in the middle of nowhere, because you caused a problem for the previous driver? they may not stop to pick you up because of this, (I had this happen in Australia)
Where To Stand
One of the most important decisions when Hitchhiking is where to stand, your choice of where to hitchhike from will often make the difference between someone bothering to stop for you or not. A position if poorly chosen will give drivers an excuse to just keep on driving – make it easy for them to stop and get started again!
- The very best spot is the exit from a fuel stop – unbeatable! whether here in New Zealand or deep in the outback of Australia, I found fuel stops are a great spot to get a lift.
- A T-intersection is also great, cars have to slow down to safely turn, so they have plenty of time to check you out and since they have already slowed down – more than likely they won’t mind stopping to pick you up
- Allow enough room for the driver to pull off the road and stop safely – make it easy to pick you up ! stay away from yellow lines and no stopping signs etc
- Outside of the city limits is best, even if you have to catch public transport to get clear of large cities, Wellington is one example of this I always take the train to Paraparaumu whenever hitchhiking North
- Have at least a 100 meters of straight road either side of you for the driver to see you in time, check you out, and stop safely.
Hitchhiking Safety Tips
- hitchhike in pairs if possible ( 1 girl 1 guy is best)
- txt to a friend the vehicle registration number, plus txt your location as you pass prominent landmarks, make the driver aware you are in touch with friends.
- one hitchhiker should always sit in the car as the other loads the packs in the boot of the car, this stops the driver driving off with your packs
- don’t be afraid to refuse a lift if you feel the driver or his passengers are a potential problem, (they could easily be drunk or stoned)
- be very wary of groups of males
- never hitchhike at night, you expose yourself to two risks when you do, the people who pick you up (it is almost certain they will either be dodgy, dangerous, stoned or drunk – or all these !) the other risk is getting run over by the same driver if he doesn’t see you. It is better to camp the night close to the road but well out of sight, then start hitchhiking again in the morning.
- carry food and water and a tent, so you can camp overnight comfortably if needed.The tent and camping equipment is also useful if you plan on Hiking In New Zealand.
In all my years hitchhiking, I have never had a serious problem with the people who stopped to give me a lift, the main concerns for me whenever hitchhiking in Australia or New Zealand have been the occasional bad driver, including one very nice old man in New Zealand who had recently suffered a stroke.
He proudly informed us of his “all most 100% full recovery” as we careered wildly down both lanes of the highway, he seemed deaf and blind to the frantic horn blasts and waving fists or single fingers from passing motorists?
He had picked us up for the company as he was driving alone to his Queenstown holiday home, his wife had wisely refused to let him drive her anywhere since he had the stroke – he in turn, stubbornly refused to be driven by his wife… It’s not easy growing old !
There is only one important rule when hitchhiking that I know of – Do not jump the cue !
If you arrive at the spot you want to hitchhike from and find another hitchhiker there already walk past them before you start to hitchhike ! they are first in the queue for a lift.
Very important to follow this rule if you want a trouble free life while hitchhiking.
Video – This Is How To Do It
If you are coming to New Zealand and want to save money check out our Hiking In New Zealand article as well as the not to be missed Free Rotorua Attractions – For real cost savings – travel with a tent for almost free camping anywhere in rural New Zealand…