Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

It's good to be alive, says bashed hitchhiker

Bashed hitchhikers say 'thank you NZ' after horror ordeal

Niki Honda says she is keen to continue travelling in NZ after recovering.
Niki Honda says she is keen to continue travelling in NZ after recovering.

Bashed backpackers Michaela Brandl and Niki Honda are crediting angels with saving their lives after they were attacked on the South Island's West Coast last Sunday.

In a joint statement to the Herald on Sunday, the friends expressed "deepest gratitude for all the support and compassion which reached us from the very first moments".

German tourist Brandl, 28, was stabbed in the neck three times and her Japanese-Dutch companion Niki Honda suffered pelvic injuries in the attack which happened after being picked up as they were hitchhiking near Whataroa.

Their ordeal has gripped the nation this week as details emerged of their struggle to survive and escape.

"So many people — strangers — sent us flowers, cards or presents and we are deeply touched by every single one of them, as well as by all the good wishes, thoughts and prayers," they said.

"We feel like many angels were sent to us in this situation. We still believe in the good or God in everything and still feel that New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and peaceful countries on this planet."

They had met many great people and their "trust in this place and the people is unbroken".

"As soon as we recover and have had enough rest, we'd love to travel on. Here and anywhere. It's good to be alive."

A Christchurch Hospital official said Brandl and Honda were resting comfortably.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said the public response had been heartening.

"Telecom has given them new phones and we had a campervan offer. Victim Support has provided enough to replace their belongings."

A 38-year-old man from Otaki has been charged over the attacks on the two women, as well as the murder of Christchurch woman Amy Farrall. He has interim name suppression.


• Anyone wanting to donate money to the backpackers can make a deposit to ANZ bank account 06-0821-0714633-00.

- Herald on Sunday

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