Police say a driver who picked up a hitchhiker made "unwanted advances" to the young woman after leaving Queenstown.
A 22-year-old woman was hitchhiking between Queenstown and Cromwell yesterday morning when she was picked up near the Frankton cemetery by a man driving a fawn-coloured 4WD.
Police confirmed to the Herald the driver made "unwanted advances" towards the woman.
She had hoped to get to Dunedin and the man was only going to Arrowtown. However, he decided to change his plans to help the young woman.
But she told police she asked the man to drop her at Cromwell after he made advances.
Police say they have received several reports from witnesses who saw the woman hitchhiking and also after she was dropped off at the Cromwell public toilets, behind the Z Petrol Station.
A bus driver had come forward saying that he saw a young woman in a "distressed state".
She eventually caught "public transport" to Dunedin.
Police will now comb through CCTV footage to get further details of the vehicle, including its registration number.
A Queenstown photographer told the Herald she recalled seeing the woman standing on the side of the road in the rain at 8.55am and feeling sorry for her.
"It was absolutely pouring with rain and she looked freezing cold and was shivering. She looked like she wasn't really dressed to be standing in the rain hitchhiking. She didn't look very happy, she looked very cold and I hoped that someone would pick her up quickly."
The witness said a man was standing about 5m in front of the woman, also hitchhiking, but he looked more prepared for the conditions wearing a big, hooded jacket.
She said she had phoned police and told them what she had seen but was yet to hear back.
The hitchhiker didn't look like a tourist, rather someone who had visited the town for the weekend.
"I thought she looked like [she] got a little caught out, I mean who knows really, but she just had a little weekend bag."
"She didn't have the clothing on that suited standing out in the rain hitchhiking. I think it was a denim jacket or something but i remember thinking it didn't look like a very warm jacket."
The woman said she would have picked the hitchhiker but she was travelling in the opposite direction.
The hitchhiker described the driver as a European man in his 40s. He was cleanshaven with short white hair, wearing a black baseball cap and yellow hi-vis vest.
He wore a gold band on his left hand, had two car seats in the back of his vehicle for his twin children and a black dog, described as a labrador, was also in the back seat.
Police would like to speak with the driver and anyone who may have information.
Police would also like to hear from anyone who saw the woman near the cemetery in Frankton between 8 and 9am yesterday.
She is European, has shoulder-length dark brown hair and was wearing a checked black and white shirt, black jeans and boots and carrying a black Nike gym bag.
• Contact Detective Gary Hyndman at Cromwell Police on (03) 445 1999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.