FROM Slope Point to Matamata – the 1500km walk one Croatian man travelled over three months.
After he started in his home town in Croatia on October 13, 2015, Tomica Kristic finished his hitch hiking and trekking journey on June 13 in Matamata – three years and eight months later.
During that time he hitch-hiked through 25 countries before deciding to finish his travels by walking through New Zealand.
It wasn’t about the destination, he said, but about the journey and getting to New Zealand – the reason he chose to come here was because it was so far away.
“My focus was on travel, not on destination… The rule is, the further the destination, the longer the journey.”
He said hitch hiking was the cheapest way to travel – “another bigger reason is because hitch hiking is really challenging, and this is its beauty. Sometimes I’d be standing on the road only a few minutes, but sometimes I stood on the road for seven or eight hours waiting for a ride.”
With the equivalent of $2300 in his pocket, he travelled across three continents to get here and his journey took him through Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Australia and New Zealand – some countries more than once.
He said his time walking on the Desert Rd on State Highway 1, past Tongariro National Park, was one of his favourite New Zealand moments.
“Those two days walking through the desert road was really unbelievable… I camped in the middle of this road under the amazing night sky.”
It was easy to miss these sights when travelling by car, he said, and his long walk enabled him to truly take in these awe-inspiring scenes.
Having travelled so far, it was inevitable he would meet many people.
“The world is full of interesting people, I met a few thousand people and made a few hundred new friends, and all of them are interesting in their own way.”
Mr Kristic said he knew of a few other people who had made the same journey – a few of his Croatian friends had made similar trips in the past.
He said while he met many people, he travelled alone for most of the time.
“Mostly I was travelling by myself alone, but on the way I fell in love with a girl and after staying in Vietnam I continued travelling forward with her for about nine months.”
When asked what people thought about his journey he said, “what people think about your act, it really isn’t important… Because society pushes you down, and if you listen to them there is a chance you will be unsuccessful in life.”
He said he had advice for anyone wishing to do the same – “I have thousands of advice. Most important is you have to listen to yourself, to your heart… don’t listen to others around you, don’t listen to society.”
A highlight of his overall trip, he said, was trekking through the Himalayas for two weeks, surrounded by Tibetan culture. Then, hitch hiking 2600km through the Omanian dessert in the Middle East. “That was amazing, 100% true desert.”
His trip provided him with a multitude of experiences – from his visit to Hobbiton at the journey’s end point in New Zealand, having crossed the entirety of Vietnam by motorbike, acting in Indian Bollywood movies and attending the largest spiritual gathering in the world, Hindu Kumbh Mela.
While presently in Vietnam, he said he would head back to Croatia in mid July, and would start working on a book about his intrepid transcontinental journey.