Fun traveller or furious visitor?
French hitchhiker Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre, whose disastrous four-day wait for a lift out of Punakaiki landed him in court, has left vastly different impressions on locals during his global travels.
In New Zealand, motorists spoke of their shock after they were allegedly abused by Rault-Verpre during his attempts to hitchhike out of the small West Coast town.
Rault-Verpre, 27, pleaded guilty at Greymouth District Court yesterday to wilfully damaging road signs after his frustration boiled over.
Outside court, Rault-Verpre said New Zealand should be renamed "Nazi Zealand". The outburst made international headlines.
Rault-Verpre was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and remanded to appear at Christchurch District Court on Friday.
A court source told the Herald that Rault-Verpre indicated that he would hitchhike across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.
While on a road trip from Auckland to Queenstown with her mother and sister who were visiting her from Chile, Alejandra Carolina came across the hitchhiker at about 4.30pm on Saturday.
She was driving through Punakaiki when she noticed two bags on the roadside that "looked like rubbish".
Then she saw a man 30m ahead walking in the same direction she was heading, with his back to her, and his thumb out.
As she passed, she claims the hitchhiker "showed me his middle finger".
She said he "looked stressed" and was "walking very fast".
"He looked upset, it was a weird situation."
The encounter was "surprising and annoying", Carolina said.
"The guy was very rude and he had a kind of bad vibe. I usually stop [for] people on the road but even if I'd gone driving alone, I wouldn't have picked him up.
"I think the attitude when you are doing hitchhiking is so important. Nobody [is] gonna take for free someone that looks rude, arrogant and aggressive."
In court, Rault-Verpre said he had spent four days on the side of State Highway 6 at Punakaiki and no one had bothered to even offer him water.
Locals contacted police on Monday alleging Rault-Verpre took his frustration out on road signs at Punakaiki.
They also told police he had verbally abused tourists and locals.
The owner of the signs, Fulton Hogan, is seeking $3000 reparation, an amount Rault-Verpre is disputing.