Injured hitchhikers aim to keep travelling

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:00 05/04/2014
Michaela Brandl
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ON HOLIDAY: Michaela Brandl, one of the hitch-hikers who were attacked on the West Coast, is still in Christchurch Hospital.
Niki Honda
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ON HOLIDAY: Niki Honda, one of the hitch-hikers who were attacked on the West Coast, is still in Christchurch Hospital.

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The two women hitch-hikers seriously injured in an attack on the West Coast plan to eventually continue their New Zealand travels.

Michaela Brandl, 28, was stabbed three times in the neck while Niki Honda, 27, a Japanese-Dutch tourist, suffered pelvic injuries. Both were yesterday in a comfortable condition in Christchurch Hospital.

They were picked up at Whataroa and later found injured near Franz Josef at about 4pm last Sunday.

A 38-year-old Otaki man has been charged with wounding Brandl and robbing the two women while armed with a metal bar. The man, whose name is suppressed, has also been charged with the murder of Christchurch caregiver Amy Elizabeth Farrall.

Brandl and Honda remain in hospital six days after their ordeal, but a hospital spokesperson said they could be discharged within the next few days.

Police said yesterday the pair planned to continue their travels in New Zealand once they had recovered.

A bank account has been set up for the two women to receive donations.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said police and victim support in Christchurch were working to ensure the women received comprehensive help once they are discharged from hospital.

The two agencies were co-ordinating offers of donated goods and services that have been received during the past six days.

"They are very brave women. They have come through a very distressing ordeal but are still feeling overwhelmed by the incident and its ongoing effects," Sweeney said.

"Some fantastic offers of public support have been flowing in over the past few days, including offers of accommodation, a campervan, cash, clothing and many other items.

"Niki and Michaela are both still very keen to eventually continue their travels around New Zealand, and to experience it the way all tourists should as a fantastic country with great people."

Both women have been visited regularly by friends, and family members of Honda have now arrived in Christchurch.

The pair did not want to speak publicly. On previous social media profiles, Brandl wrote she liked to "go with the flow" and liked to be creative and "explore new places".

She had travelled through Australia, Europe and Asia.

Friends said she was "always smiling and was very easygoing and polite".

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Honda wrote that she had lived in Japan, worked in Australia, studied in England, and worked in Holland.

From January 2012 until July 2013 she had visited 46 countries. She planned on being in New Zealand for three months.

She quoted James Dean's philosophy: "Dream as you'll live forever. Live as you'll die today."

Friends said Honda was "a great person, open-minded and easygoing" and an "awesome world traveller with a purely good soul".

The bank account for donations to the women is: 06-0821-0714633-00

The account name is: Donation Fund for Niki and Michaela.

- The Nelson Mail

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