By far the cheapest way to move around in New Zealand is hitchhiking. Of course that can be a little bit dangerous, but if you do it together, and if you think for a moment before you get in, you are not only able to travel the Islands cost-efficient but also very social.
And just to have variety to all the horror news about hitchhiking, I will tell you my own story about how I tramped down the west coast:
Day 1 was a sunny Monday. Westport to Greymouth was the plan. Our wonderfully painted and very detailed cardboard sign in our hands we waited 20min until a driver had enough mercy to pick us up. A young girl stops for us and brings us about half of the way and to the pancake rocks where we enjoy the view and our lunch.
After that we position ourselves decoratively at the side of the road and after just a few minutes we get picked up by a couple (he is from England, she is from Singapore). We talk the whole time and Julia and me realize that we are not just freaking lucky but we also don’t know nor learned much about the Asian culture.
As we arrive in Greymouth they drop us off at the local supermarket and we walk the last 300m to our hostel right after saying warmly goodbye.
Our second day starts not so lucky. After we spent two nights in Greymouth it looks like we are stranded here. We wait 1,5h until somebody picks us up and they can only bring us half of the way.
In Hokitika we stand around for another hour while old people (yes nearly just old people) drive by. Alone in their jeeps.
When we already ate our lunch and were frustrated and when I was just about to tell Julia to take of her top so at least a lorry driver would stop for us I see a strangely familiar car approaching. I think I saw the couple from two days ago but I am not sure. The Car passes by and I look at Julia. “Was that… I’m not sure but…” “No! Bullshit! You are dreaming.” Exactly 4,2 seconds later the car turns around and comes back to us. I need a moment to understand that these are really Katrina and Kevin (that are their names). They stayed the last two nights in Hokitika and just left there. HOW FUCKING LUCKY CAN WE BE!? And get this: They will drive down the whole way to Queensttown with us. Even the same stops. In addition we got their contact and address in Singapore because that’s also still on my list. They looked after us very warmly and to be honest… I haven’t met so friendly people in New Zealand yet.
So who said hitchhiking wouldn’t be a good thing?