We arrived in Christchurch a few minutes before midnight. As our taxi took us from the airport to the historic Jailhouse Backpackers, the extent of the earthquake damage started to sink in. Partly I was what we saw around us: road works and new sewer works to replace the old; but mostly it was the commentary from the driver. Every hotel in the city is either destroyed or slaed for demolition. Christchurch is, on average, 5000 beds short. What accommodation there is is taken by tradespeople working on the repairs, people who’s homes have been damaged or destroyed, and visitors to the city. Of the latter, most stay only one night in town before moving on to other localities or picking up a camper van.

The good news for the South Island is that the tourists are still coming. The bad news for Christchurch is that they’re not sticking around.

We arrived at the Jailhouse to find five KLR650s parted out front, and John and Matt working hard on a bottle of American Honey. Andrew and I added our contributions to that (duty free is a wonderful thing), and we sat and talked and drank a while.

On the flight, Andrew and I watched U2: From The Sky Down (I think), which looked at U2s Achtung Baby, 20 years on. It was brilliant, and well worth watching.

Tomorrow Andrew and I will pick up our bikes, and I’ll reacquaint myself with my luggage, which is waiting for me at the bike hire place. After that, I need a local SIM for my iPad, so I can talk to my lovely wife and post this dribble for those foolish enough to stumble across it.

‘night all!

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