Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand and it means the country of the long white cloud. It consists of two main islands, the north island and the south island and several smaller islands.
There are approximately 4,240,000 people in an area of approximately 270,000 square kilometers, which means that lots of open spaces are ...
People, Kiwi (named after their national bird ...) are quite good people, in general, and that is why many young travelers decide to give it a walk and hike for free across the country, requesting lifts.
There is not much crime here, compared to the rest of the world, although things have changed over the past 10 years or so.
If you are a visitor, you will be well treated here. New Zealand is a very isolated country and in some small towns they are not used to tourists or people coming from far away. They will have a chat with you.
Many New Zealanders are globetrotters and many of them are or were hitch-hikers themselves so it does not surprise them to see anyone along the way with a backpack with the thumbs that protrude ...
If youre having trouble, if youre in trouble, Kiwis would do everything they can to help you. They are friendly and ready to lend a hand if needed.
All this makes Aotearoa the perfect place for hitching ...
I have been across this incredible country and I have to admit that I have never ever had a problem with the people who picked me up. I have never been robbed and I have always been treated with kindness and respect, by all, both Pakehas (white people) and Maori.
I also hitched in very isolated areas and a couple of times I stuck for a few hours ... late in the evening ... In Blenheim I was taken by a group of people in a car just finishing a kayaking. One of the ladies took me home ... she was worried about my safety. I stayed at her place with her family for a couple of days. They owned a vineyard and she showed me around.
One of the biggest lifts I ever had was when I hitched on my way to Invercargill. A guy stopped. He told me that he owned a boat and that he was going to Stewart Island the same day.
Stewart Island is 30 kilometers south of the southern island and was on my itinerary. I grabbed the miraculous opportunity at the speed of light and I asked the boy if I could go with him to his destination. At the harbor we jumped on his boat and we left. The sea in Foveaux Straight was dead calm for a change ... It could be extremely rough and dangerous ... During the crossing, which lasted for a few hours, we assumed we saw lots of penguins swimming and jumping into the water around us. It was amazing! What a privilege!
I had another great experience in Stewart Island, one day I went along a beach and I started feeling a little lost. After a while a man got up on a boat and asked me if I was OK and if I needed a lift. The man was a ranger and his job that day was counting the seals ... Wow ... It was another strike!
Another time, somewhere on the southern island, I came to a small settlement, I do not remember the name ... I went to a store and asked the owner where I could find a backpackers place. It was cold and windy and it started to rain. He told me there was nothing available ...
I was really worried ... OK, I had a very good sleeping bag, a waterproof, but still ... He simply told me I would not worry. He called a family, they had a sheep farm, and after a while the farmer came with one of his children and picked me up. They took me to the farm where I was treated like a queen. All the family were there and I was served a fantastic steak! I had my own room with a hot bed fitted with an electric blanket. It rained all night ... I felt really, really happy! I spent a few days with them. Beautiful people!
Once again I went to visit a friend of a friend I never met (a kiwi girl). At that time I also went with a tent. When I arrived at my destination, I was not looking for it. Her neighbors told me that she would come back the day after and go home somewhere. They told me, If you want to learn in our garden, we leave the door open to you so you can take a shower and a cup of coffee whenever you want. Hear that I was really blown away ... Ive never met them until ... and I replied: Thank you so much, but youre not afraid Ill empty your house while youre gone?
Their response was: No! We trust you!
Would you believe it ...?