Frenchman pleads guilty to criminal damage in New Zealand after getting upset over failed hitchhiking attempts

WELLINGTON (AFP) - A French hitchhiker who flew into a rage after spending four days unsuccessfully trying to thumb a ride out of a small New Zealand town pleaded guilty to criminal damage on Tuesday (Sept 20).

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre admitted destroying road signs out of frustration at being stranded in the South Island tourist destination of Punakaiki for so long.

Bemused locals in the tiny settlement of less than 100 people accused the tourist of acting like a "spoilt millennial".

"Oh he threw an absolute hissy fit; he was lying prone on the road screaming that New Zealanders were a******* and he couldn't wait to get back to Europe," business owner Neil Mouat told The Guardian newspaper.

Fairfax New Zealand reported that the French man pulled one road sign from the ground and threw it in a river, before hurling rocks at another and verbally abusing onlookers.

It said he pleaded guilty to wilful damage - which carries a jail term of up to three months - although prosecutors said they were simply seeking NZ$3,000 (S$2,996) to cover damage to the signs.

Outside Greymouth court, a still fuming Rault-Verpre told reporters he was unhappy with his treatment.

"You should change the name to Nazi Zealand, not New Zealand," he said.

He also disputed the value of the signs he damaged, saying: "It isn't even worth NZ$100".

Asked how long he had been in New Zealand, the 27-year-old replied "too long, way too long". 

"I've been to 80 countries," he said. "I've been to the worst parts of the US. The worst American is not an a****** like a New Zealander."

He was remanded to reappear on Friday in the Christchurch District Court, which is on the other side of the South Island.

The New Zealand Herald, citing a courtroom source, said he planned to hitchhike there.