The under-fire French hitchhiker says his anger boiled over after he was racially abused while trying to thumb a lift, according to a motorist who's taken him in.

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre's disastrous four-day wait for a lift out of Punakaiki landed him in court.

Motorists have spoken of their shock after being 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 on Tuesday to wilfully damaging road signs.

Advertisement

Outside court, Rault-Verpre said in an outburst that made international headlines that New Zealand should be renamed "Nazi Zealand".

Rault-Verpre was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and remanded to appear at Christchurch District Court on Friday. Photo / Greymouth Star
Rault-Verpre was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and remanded to appear at Christchurch District Court on Friday. Photo / Greymouth Star

Rault-Verpre was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and remanded to appear at Christchurch District Court tomorrow.

After his Greymouth court appearance, he was picked up on the roadside by a passing motorist.

"He got in the car and told me all about it," the motorist, who declined to be identified, told Fairfax.

"It's originated from a dispute with people on the roadside who made comments about his odd behaviour long before he throw stones at the sign. He wanted a ride. They said no. It escalated. They told him to catch the bus and he was told 'why don't you f... off back to where you came from'."

The man thought Rault-Verpre had been acting like "an idiot but not harmful".

The reason he didn't try walking out of the town was because he had a sore foot, the man told Fairfax.

He's now putting him up until the tourist's next court appearance in Christchurch tomorrow.

Rault-Verpre's epic West Coast meltdown appears out of character for the globe-trotting traveller, who hails from Villeneuve-Loubet in the south of France.

His profile on social networking site Couchsurfing.com is full of positive encounters with people who have put him up, including several Kiwis during his New Zealand stay.

He's variously described as being tidy, friendly, and talkative. All of his 80 references are positive. He lists 73 countries that he has visited, including New Zealand.

But he told his new host that he thinks some Kiwis are racist.

"In the North Island he was fine. But he reckons down here they're odd and racist. He was angry he couldn't get a ride but was shocked when he was told to go back to where he came from," the man said.

Rault-Verpre is reported as being surprised at how his story has gone global and thinks it is a "joke".

The owner of the damaged signs, Fulton Hogan, is seeking $3000 reparation, an amount Rault-Verpre is disputing.

A replacement for the major sign at the entrance to Punakaiki was being ordered and would be installed in coming weeks.

A police spokeswoman said people should not hitchhike or accept rides from people they don't know.

"If you do decide to hitchhike, police strongly advise you not to travel alone."