Tourist's cycling trip ruined
A Spanish tourist visiting New Zealand for the first time has been knocked off his bike by a car which failed to stop.
Rodrigo Perez is nursing a broken tailbone and gashes to his leg after the Friday night crash on Taupaki Rd.
Police are still looking for the driver of the four-wheel drive vehicle which hit his bicycle as he was riding south towards home at 9pm.
The car clipped a pannier bag strapped to the 22-year-old's mountainbike, buckling the frame and back wheel.
The wing mirror hit Mr Perez's buttocks and shattered.
He was thrown two metres and landed in the ditch.
"At first I felt my legs to see if they were working," Mr Perez says.
"Then I lifted my head up and saw the lights of the car disappearing in the distance."
Mr Perez was wearing a light on his helmet and had covered his bag with a bright yellow raincover.
The Salamanca resident scooped up his bike and hobbled towards Brookvale House in Taupaki Rd where he gardens in exchange for board.
Another driver noticed his distress and stopped to offer a lift.
A dash to the accident and emergency clinic revealed a fractured coccyx.
The unemployed physical education teacher had his mountainbike repaired with secondhand parts.
"Now it makes a lot of noise and is not as fluent," he says.
Mr Perez takes painkillers daily and has been forced to axe plans to cycle around the Coromandel.
The cycle tourist pedalled around Hong Kong and volunteered in an orphanage in Thailand before flying to New Zealand in November.
He has dreamed of visiting New Zealand since childhood because he says it is a natural paradise, it is the exact opposite side of the world to Spain and he is a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movie.
"I wanted to come to Middle Earth where it was filmed."
Mr Perez plans to return one day and says the crash has not tainted his views.
"I think it's not normal as most people I've met here are pretty honest.
"It's not like I go back to my country thinking people in New Zealand are horrible. They're not like this."
Mr Perez says he thinks it was unusual for the driver to flee the scene.
The Spanish tourist is simply grateful to be alive.
"I could have gone under the car.
"That would be maybe death or a really worse injury so I'm pretty lucky."
"I learn but I didn't realise that it's very dangerous to go with the pannier bags on a small road."