Angry French hitchhiker goes global

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre (Facebook)
Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre (Facebook)

The small West Coast town of Punakaiki is under worldwide spotlight after a story about a tantrum-throwing French hitchhiker went global.

The French hitchhiker attacked road signs in the town after New Zealanders wouldn't give him a lift for four days, locals say.

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre, 27, was arrested on Monday over claims he vandalised signs on State Highway 6 at Punakaiki.

He had reportedly thrown a freedom camping sign in the river, vandalised other signs and verbally abused locals.

Fulton Hogan, who owns the sign, was seeking reparation of $3000.

When he appeared in Greymouth District Court the following day charged with wilful damage he told the court he had spent four days on the side of the road trying to hitch a lift.

Outside court Rault-Verpre said New Zealand should be renamed "Nazi Zealand".

He has surrendered his passport and will reappear in court on Friday.

The story was first published in the Westport News and has since gone around the world, with locals getting calls from reporters in the UK, Australia and Canada.

A version of the story was the most popular article on the Guardian UK website on Tuesday and Wednesday, and has been shared by readers in China, Italy, Lesotho, Canada and Germany.

The story has taken on mythical proportions, with Punakaiki described as a "fishing village" and Rault-Verpre said to have "gone berserk".

Newshub.