Sunday, September 17, 2006

Observations, Tips & Tricks

This is not a "How To Hitchhike" section—although experienced hitchhikers will be familiar with the common sense suggestions

These pointers are loosely categorized under some general headings and published in no particular order

(the page remains under construction)

Hitchhiking in New Zealand:

* New Zealanders are a well travelled people and hitchhiking is accepted, although it is not very common to see other travellers especially in the winter months

* Lengthy waits can happen in some areas due to low traffic densities, but remain positive—it's not uncommon for drivers to say they have never picked up before

* Beware the "expert" passer-by who will give advice on everything from how one should stand to where one should stand. Unless they are experienced hitchhikers—ignore the advice

* Generally, open roads in New Zealand are narrow, dual-carriageways with little shoulder room for drivers to stop safely. Best practise is to stand and hitchhike from the outskirts of town

* As in any country, hitchhiking out of cities can be difficult. Some suggestions: "Exiting New Zealand Cities - Part I" an article by Succat . . . published Here


When it comes to sleeping, any place that is dry and sheltered from wind is good—even better if the location is hidden, lessening the chance of being disturbed

With a tent, anywhere you can get away with will suffice. If the location is not quite kosher, just remember the rule of getting "in after dark/out before light"

In essence, don't get caught

Here are some places Succat frequently uses:

* Any part of the DOC Estate

* Parks, reserves and botanical gardens

* Church grounds

* Cemetries

* School gounds (on weekends when classes are out)

* In rural areas, most farmers and landowners are willing to allow a tent on their land overnight. Always ask

* New Zealand is well equipped with official camping grounds but they are often noisy places, more suited for caravanners or campervans, and Succat does not use them

Police & Law:

Hitchhiking offers a unique perspective of law enforcement officers performing their function

In his time on New Zealand roads, Succat has not been approached by Police—nor had reason to approach them—but there have been many opportunities to observe officers dealing with his drivers, and the public in general

* New Zealand has a national police service which conveniently provides for uniformity of jurisdication, livery and training

* In main centres, front line officers appear young and inexperienced. Be mindful of the "attitude test" because many officers behave in an unprofessional manner, are ill-disciplined and appear both poorly trained and badly led

* Assessments in 2006/2007 rated the IQ of New Zealand's Police recruits in bottom 1/3 of the general population. Another way of saying this is that 2/3 of population can outwit police. It needs noting that . . . Police National HQ improved their result by removing the figures of their bottom performing 10%

* According to a 1998 - 2000 survey by the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime, New Zealand has the second highest rate of crime per capita in the world with 105.881 per 1000 people (Dominica is first with 113.822 and Yemen the lowest at 1.16109 )

Border Control & Customs:

* Friendly, courteous, professional—and efficient, so don't even think about it


Dangers & Risks:

* Alpine and wilderness: don't be fooled by the pretty landscape and relatively small areas of wilderness. Each year experienced climbers and trampers perish in New Zealand's outdoors

The Mountain Safety Council and Department of Conservation (DOC) offer some useful resources

* Drowsy drivers: no statistics are kept on road accidents caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel but in his time hitch hiking around New Zealand Succat has had five close calls – one of which was near fatal . . . story published Here
Be aware!

* Thieves: each year many visitors have their belongings stolen, often at great inconvenience. Car parks, especially those in areas frequented by visitors, have signs advising users to "lock it or lose it"

Don't leave your pack in plain view inside a vehicle, even when locked. Remember — the day your gear gets stolen from a car will be a day your gear gets left in a car


* No special precautions required



* Succat sleeps in his tent and has no recommendations in this category


Public Transport:

* Succat hitchhikes and has no recommendations in this category

* An article by Succat with some suggestions on using public transport to exit New Zealand cities is . . . published here