Mark Story: Tale of two tourists

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SPORTING: South African yachtie Darius DeWet sparked a full scale search and rescue this week when he set sail to the Hauraki Gulf. PHOTO SUPPLIED
SPORTING: South African yachtie Darius DeWet sparked a full scale search and rescue this week when he set sail to the Hauraki Gulf. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Where would we be without our colourful tourists?

The most intriguing national story this week, at least in my book, was the yarn involving French tourist Cedric Rault-Verpre.

The 27-year-old had hitchhiker had to make unscheduled appearances in both Greymouth and Christchurch district courts for attacking a West Coast road sign.

Initial reports said he became frustrated as he had his thumb out for four days on the coast without a single ride.

Mr Rault-Verpre didn't do the French tourist quarter any favours. In a year where many have protested the actions of foreign drivers, he went one step further as a pedestrian and, in a fit of Gallic rage, vandalised NZTA property.

On the West Coast, he just doubled the four day hitching lag time for future tourists thumbing a ride.

In his defence, he later said he was enraged after being abused by local motorists. North Island drivers, he claimed, were more hospitable.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn lent weight to these claims with a curt appraisal. "We don't want to see him anymore. West Coasters are very receptive to people. Our economy is reliant on tourism and we welcome people from all over the world with open arms but he is a bad apple. Good riddance. Goodbye and don't come back."

The tourist later admitted to stealing a sleeping bag, but still, perhaps Kokshoorn needs to work on his bedside manor, given he's a mayor whose coast is "receptive" and "reliant" on tourism.

Another wayward tourist who made headlines this week was Darius DeWet. And, if the question is why does South Africa not feature prominently in the America's Cup, the 20-year-old provides a few clues.

The Rainbow Nation youngster had gone missing with his 6.7m yacht Luna north of Gisborne after setting sail from Hawke's Bay late last week.

With scant experience, the skipper planned to sail solo to the Hauraki Gulf - with no working comms. When found by authorities, he seemed oblivious to the concerns, yet alone the full-scale search party. It's understood he's been urged to abandon his aspirational journey.

There we have it, a tale of two distinct, but equally colourful tourists. With the latter visitor, I reckon what New Zealand has lost in rescue costs, we've probably gained in translation. I say let him sail on.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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