A French tourist who wanted to experience "the real New Zealand" was abducted and raped as he travelled alone on a rural backroad.

His rapist, Teiro Ngaa Kitai, a scrap metal trader from Opotiki, pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court on Monday to three charges of sexually violating the tourist.

The 24-year-old traveller had hitchhiked his way through Canada and Australia without incident. He had been touring the North Island when he was picked up by Kitai while hitchhiking on State Highway 35 in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

Crown prosecutor Rob Ronayne told the Herald the man was an experienced traveller who was keen to get off the beaten track.

"He said he had wanted to experience the real New Zealand. Unfortunately, he pulled the short straw."

Police said Kitai, 32, preyed on the tourist. Kitai stored his luggage and offered him a place to stay at his derelict house bus on Motu Rd, 15km southeast of Opotiki.

After a night drinking at the home of a friend of Kitai's, Kitai took the tourist home, threatened him with an air pistol and forced him to carry out sexual acts.

According to the Crown summary of facts, the tourist pleaded with Kitai, politely telling him, "I like girls, I'm not interested." He had considered attacking Kitai with a knife he had in his pocket, but said he could not bring himself to do it.

Detective Brent Andersen said the Frenchman had been intending to hitchhike around the East Cape before visiting Wellington and seeking work in Queenstown. But after making a complaint to police, he left a week later for France.

"He left as soon as possible," said Mr Andersen. "He was quite keen on New Zealand and doing his own thing. He was devastated it hasn't worked out ... and was too traumatised to stay."

Mr Andersen said the tourist was prepared to return and testify at a trial. But Kitai's guilty plea means he will not be required in court.

The May incident was the first of two sexual attacks on tourists in the region this year. Two teenage boys are being kept in custody after being charged with the rape of a 22-year-old Asian woman in Opotiki last month.

Mr Andersen said he was glad Kitai had been quickly brought to justice.

"Tourism is a big part of this area and everyone goes out of their way to help people ... It was a shock for this community. Everyone was outraged by it," the detective said.

The Crown presented no evidence for three other charges that Kitai faced - possession of a firearm, unlawful detention, and indecent assault.

The charges will be relegated to aggravating features at his sentencing in November.

Kitai was remanded in custody.