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Hitchhiking in New Zealand

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This is a concise guide about how to hitchhike in New Zealand. It covers everything from where to pick up a ride to how to get someone to stop.

If you have hitchhiked through New Zealand before and have more tips to contribute, please do so through the comment form below.

How to Hitchhike in NZ

Hitchhiking in New Zealand is legal, except on the countries motorways. (Only 2% of the countries roads are motorways, which carry about 10% of NZs’ traffic.) Hitchhiking on the countries highways is legal and quite safe.

The easiest and most convenient route for traveling long distances is State Highway 1. State Hwy 1 is the longest road in NZ, running from the northernmost point of the North Island to the tip of the southern island, passing through Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Traffic is one lane and there is generally a shoulder to stand on while waiting for a ride.

New Zealanders are generally quite friendly and happy to offer hitchhikers a lift (and occasionally, a meal or a backyard in which to pitch a tent). Payment is not expected. The countryside is easier to navigate, while the cities can be difficult to hitch out of. Taking public transportation to the outskirts of a city before trying to hitchhike will greatly improve your chances of getting a ride. Trying to hitchhike on the crowded onramps within a city is dangerous – the ramps are often narrow and there isn’t room for a driver to pull over. Furthermore, within city limits and also within a cities surroundings, State Hwy 1 tends to be a four lane motorway, which is illegal to hitchhike on.

Trying to hitchhike out of Auckland on Route 1 will be illegal, as the State Highway is actually known as the Southern Motorway (and has four lanes of traffic) for about 60 kilometers south of the city, until it reverts back into State Highway 1. The same is true for leaving Auckland to the north on State Hwy 1, for about 30 kilometers – but there are alternatives in either direction, as well as when leaving any of the major cities on either island. Finding a good map that makes the distinction between motorway and highway will help greatly, and one that shows the cities and their surroundings in larger detail will help you in choosing an appropriate road depending on your destination.

For the traveler who is used to measuring distances using the imperial system, keep in mind that the countries roads are measured in kilometers – and a distance of 100 kilometers converts to only 60 miles and can be covered in roughly one hour’s drive.

More infromation about hitchhiking

Books About Hitchhiking

Find more information about New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Guide

New Zealand Travel Guide

More Vagabond Journey.com Travel Guides

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Filed under: Hitchhiking, New Zealand

About the Author:

Ani St. Amand is truly a modern day hobo, hopping freight trains, stealing rides on passenger trains, and hitchhiking all over this earth. Originally from the state of Maine in the USA, Ani continues to travel “with one eye on the platform.” has written 15 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.