Dec 20 day 111 freedom camp to Merrivale trailhead 7:00- 11:00 15 km
After a forest/road walk I hitched into Otautau for just enough supplies to get over the next stretch but mainly to rest up a bit and eat a big meal or two. Caught a ride with a character driving a Land Rover Defender hauling a load of railroad ties. He moved here from the north island three years ago and bought a building with two storefronts, one will soon be a cafe. He gave me coffee and showed me around town. Unfortunately it was Sunday and the place was very much a ghost town. No place open for late breakfast so I hung out at the Otautau Hotel drinking coffee, waiting until I could get a room and a short nap followed by dinner and sleep. I’m afraid sleep has become an obsession at this point in the long walk. I’m going to have to report that Otautau is not on my list of towns to visit again.