By Jade Johnston
Pipiriki: Fun to say, more fun to make a sign of
Unfortunately, no one knows where it is. Also unfortunately, our hitchhiking destination was changed from Pipiriki to Reatihi by Nils, after the sign was made and we were on our way. No worried though. We used the other side to say “Wanganui”, the closest major town, and where the highways split. Everyone knew were that was.
The hostel were we were camped was near to the edge of town, so getting to a good hitching spot was easy. Unfortunately there was already a hitch hiker there which made it awkward since we were now competing for rides. It was also awkward cause no one was stopping. Finally someone stopped for us – Jasmine and Blaine, who were heading to Statford. Jasmine was called to New Plymouth for jury duty, but was relieved when she wasn’t chosen. They left us in Stratford near what appeared to be some sort of crack house, in front of which we waited for quite a while. Our hitchhiking luck was definitely not as good as the day previous.
Eventually a fishermen guy named G stopped for us, and took us up to the next town. Here we didn’t have to wait long for Hamish to pull over in his shiney sports car and take us another 20 minutes or so down the road.
Again, we waited, for a long while. But finally Liz pulled over and took us as far as Patea. Liz is a community lawyer who is interested in labour unions, and environmental issues. We had a great time talking and had loads of common ground.
We were dropped off in Patea, and had a very long wait ahead of us. We probably waited for at least 45 minutes, but possibly longer. But there was no turning back. Finally Deb, in her bright yellow car stopped for us. Deb is a sheep farmer in Patea who was heading to Wanganui to meet a friend whose father had recently passed away. She told us loads of stories of her travels around New Zealand and of her canoe trip down the Wanganui river that she did several years ago. She dropped us off at the place where the 4 motorway headed to Reatihi and we settled in for another long wait.
It is lucky that we got a ride at all because despite the number 4 being a major highway, it is not well used as it is more a windy mountain road than a proper motorway. And there are no towns in between Wanganui and Reatihi – 80 ams apart. Finally though, we did get a ride. A white camper van came to an abrupt halt in front of us. We were instructed that they would take us wherever we needed to go, but that we had to climb through the window because their doors were broken. We climbed into the back with four sweaty, topless, drunk, and spray painted young men. They were on their way to a concert in Auckland and seemed to be completely unaware of how far away they were from Auckland.
They were the most hilarious hitch I have ever had as we were passed bourbon and colas (a premixed can drink which is absolutely disgusting, but everyone here seems to love it) and periodically had to stop at the side of the road for the drunk boys to fall out of the window to go for a pee.
They dropped us in Reatihi and after having a look at the town (all half block of it) we were shocked at how we managed to hitch to such a place at all. We had even gotten there before Nils and Thomas – our friends from Belgium who had their own car – got there. Amazing.
We set up in the motor camp which was to arrange our next day’s journey and waited for our friends to arrive while going on a mission in the town for takeaway.
Best New Zealand take away food: Kumara chips (sweet potato hot chips)
Best way to say “I love you” to Nils and Thomas: filling their tent with balloons
Best way to spend the last moments of daylight hours instead of packing the waterproof barrels for the next day: Applying temporary tattoos to my tent
Packing up the waterproof barrels
A breakfast of energy drinks