Tourists left in shock and fear

The two women tourists attacked while hitchhiking on the West Coast are "shocked and scared" after the ordeal.

The pair, a 27-year-old of Japanese and Dutch heritage and a 28-year-old from Germany, had recently met in Nelson and decided to journey south together.

A Nelson resident who met them two weeks ago said he had been in contact with them in hospital yesterday.

They told him they were "still in shock and scared".

"They are both really similar, outgoing, sweet people with a love of travel. They are trusting and honest but not naive," said the man, who did not want to be named.

"To have met these two wonderful women was a joy. To find out what they went through sickens me. The beautiful picture they were forming of New Zealand has been destroyed.

"We talked about hitchhiking and I assured them New Zealand was a safe and friendly country. I guess you can't account for lowlifes."

During their Nelson stay, the women visited the Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson Lakes. They left last Thursday to travel to the West Coast.

They were hitchhiking from Whataroa to Queenstown when they were attacked by a man who picked them up on Sunday afternoon. The man is also at the centre of an inquiry into the killing of Christchurch woman Amy Farrall at the weekend.

The tourists were found on the side of the road at Franz Josef with serious injuries at about 4pm on Sunday.

The German woman had stab wounds to her neck and is understood to have lost a lot of blood. Her companion had a broken pelvis, believed to have been caused as she left the moving vehicle.

They were flown from Greymouth to Christchurch Hospital yesterday. This morning they were in stable conditions.

The Japanese woman had been working on organic farms around New Zealand and had previously lived in England, Holland and Tokyo.

In an online post she said: "Travelling is my life. I've travelled since I was a baby, because my mom is a backpacker too."

The German woman has written that she loves meeting new people, dancing and singing.

"I'm spontaneous, open-minded and hearted." She was on a "go-with-the-flow trip around Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand."

Manager of Nelson's Paradiso Backpackers Helen Swarbrick said backpackers often asked her about hitchhiking in New Zealand.

She said she did not explicitly advise against it, though "I tell them to look after themselves and be careful".

She said hitchhiking was a far cheaper option than buses in New Zealand. "It's a shame, because it doesn't happen that often but when it does its really throws things."

Two female backpackers spoken to by the Nelson Mail said they would not want to hitchhike in New Zealand after reading about the West Coast attack.