If there's one thing 80-year-old Colin Edwards has learned while hitchhiking from the Bluff to Whangārei, it's that people are incredibly generous.
The Whangārei man embarked on the 1800km journey on Wednesday, November 20 and arrived home on Tuesday, November 26 much sooner than he expected.
The hitchhike was originally supposed to be a Bluff to Whangārei cycle to mark his 80th birthday, which was in July. But after a physiotherapist said he'd do permanent damage to his knee if he went through with it, he decided to "be sensible".
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Edwards wasn't going to let his Whangārei to Invercargill plane ticket go to waste though.
"The choice was chuck it in the bin or do something else. And I thought let's go on an adventure," he said.
Edwards is an adventurer - in his 20s he hitchhiked across North Africa from Morocco to Egypt.
So with a backpack and three signs for Picton, Auckland and Whangārei in tow, he flew down to Invercargill and hitchhiked to Bluff where he stayed overnight ready to make his way north the next day.
On Thursday, November 21 at 6.30am Edwards set off and 20 minutes after sticking his thumb out he was picked up.
"One thought I had was people don't pick up hitchhikers because they talk about it being dangerous. But that certainly wasn't the case," he said.
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Edwards said it took about 10 lifts to get to Cromwell, where he arrived about 2pm. The next lift took him 300km to his friend's house which was just out of Ashburton and he stayed overnight.
Oxford was the next destination as Edwards has a friend who lives there. He left at 9am and three trips and just over three hours later, he arrived.
"It was extraordinary how kind people were. Lots of people went out of their way so they could drop me at a place where they thought I'd have a better chance of getting a ride. So many people were kind."
He stayed in Oxford overnight and on Saturday he set off again about 6.30am. He was picked up twice for two 30km trips to Amberley and then he managed to get a ride all the way to Picton.
"This was a couple who were going to meet a friend off the ferry so they were driving straight through to Picton. I got there about midday in time to catch the ferry to Wellington."
Edwards' daughter, who lives in Porirua, picked him up from the ferry and he spent the rest of the day and Sunday with her.
"That was lovely. It was good to catch up with her and the grandchildren," he said.
On Monday he continued with his adventure. He took the train to Paekakariki to avoid the motorway and took a couple of lifts to Levin, arriving about 10.30am.
"The next car that picked me up took me 530km to Auckland in one lift. He was a Muslim man originally from Morocco, living in New Zealand. Part of the Muslim religion is that you must always do good deeds for strangers. When I was hitchhiking across North Africa you got rides immediately. He picked me up because it is the thing that you should do."
He took a shuttle from the airport to Central Auckland and caught the 7pm ferry to Devonport and stayed with his son overnight.
The next day he took a bus to Orewa.
"Within a few minutes a woman took me to the Puhoi Tavern and then a truck went by and this lovely woman driving it drove me all the way to Whangārei."
He arrived home about midday on Tuesday.
On his journey, Edwards met a range of people. His favourite was a man from Roxburgh who had been cleaning toilets since 1991 and told Edwards all he knew about public toilets.
Edwards said if there's one thing he's taken away from his trip, it's how generous people are.
"Having been generous they would still go out of their way, they'd go another 5km to somewhere where they'd say 'I think that'd be a good place to get a lift'. I was quite taken back by how often that happened."