The French hitchhiker arrested after a West Coast meltdown has now been charged with stealing a $1000 sleeping bag from an Auckland shop.

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre, 27, was spoken to by police soon after arriving at Christchurch District Court this morning.

Rault-Verpre pleaded guilty at Greymouth District Court on Tuesday to wilfully damaging a road sign.

The new charge relates to the theft of a sleeping bag from the Kathmandu store on Broadway in Auckland's Newmarket on September 9.


He is due to appear in court this afternoon.

Outside court earlier this week, Rault-Verpre said New Zealand should be renamed "Nazi Zealand". His outburst made international headlines.

He was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and remanded to appear at Christchurch District Court today.

Rault-Verpre was initially charged over damaging a road sign after becoming frustrated by a four-day wait for a lift out of Punakaiki.

Motorists have also claimed they were verbally abused by Rault-Verpre during his attempts to hitchhike out of the small West Coast town.

The meltdown appears out of character for the globe-trotting traveller, who hails from Villeneuve-Loubet in the south of France.

Rault-Verpre was travelling around the South Island. Photo / via
Rault-Verpre was travelling around the South Island. Photo / via

His profile on social networking site 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 one of his hosts in the South Island 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 told Fairfax.

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 sigs, Fulton Hogan, is seeking $3000 reparation, an amount Rault-Verpre is disputing.

The company had ordered a replacement sign.

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."