Kind drivers respect rule of thumb

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:00 05/04/2014
Stacey Knott
SLOW LANE: Stacey Knott hitch-hiking in Atawhai Drive yesterday.

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Up until yesterday, the last time I had hitchhiked in this region was 10 years ago.

Back then, I had just finished high school and as a "congratulations" gift, my mum sent my sister and me to Wellington for a weekend to celebrate.

However, we ran out of money coming home and ended up trying to hitchhike from the Picton ferry to Nelson. It was pretty bleak.

We made it as far as Blenheim. It was dark and we were bored and tired of the rejection from the passing drivers. So, armed with our skateboards we decided to sleep in the Blenheim skate park for the night, until a homeless youth started prowling around and eventually invited us to sleep under his bridge with him.

At this point we admitted defeat, and called mum who arranged a hotel room for us. The next day it was easy enough to get a ride back home to parents who laughed at us for thinking we could, first, hitch in the dark, and second, spend a night sleeping out on skateboards.

So, 10 years later, in the name of journalism, with my colleague Kate Davidson, and conditions from my editors that we text the registration number of our rides to them, we hit Atawhai Drive. This time I am armed with smiles and an extended thumb.

After 15 minutes of rejection, while about 140 cars whiz by, Kate and I reassess our spot and walk 30 metres up the road. Three cars later and a man from Richmond pulls up.

I mention we're hitching for a story, and we start talking about the West Coast incident.

"That's why I picked you girls up. I saw that, and I thought, ‘well, I am a decent person and I would rather I picked them up, than something happening'."

The last time our driver picked up hitch-hikers was four years ago, though he himself had hitched through Europe when he was younger.

We jump out just before Todds Valley to head back in. Traffic is sparse but five minutes with our thumbs out and Chris pulls over.

With his two children and dog in the car, he tells me he stopped because we "don't look dodgy" and says he would often pick up hitchers if it looked like they were heading into Nelson.

So, while it was only a 15-kilometre return trip on a sunny afternoon, it was a worthwhile.

The many conversations I have had this week about hitchhiking had me believe people were now more inclined to pick up hitchhikers to make up for what happened to Niki Honda and Michaela Brandl, and it was good to see evidence of that yesterday.

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Pair aim to keep travelling, P2

- The Nelson Mail

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