In Jail in Christchurch


The Jailhouse hostel could not be any more different from the Arts Factory if it had been specifically designed as a crash-out room for tripping hippies. As it happens, it pretty much was!

This is a historical jail, where they would hold convicted criminals prior to sentencing. I have stayed in one before, in Sweden. This place is similar; clean, clinical and a little bit intimidating…especially in the middle of the night!

I treat myself to a cup of Chai tea and head to my bunk. Tomorrow, Christchurch!

I sleep in later than I expected. No doubt this is because it is my first night in a bed for a couple of weeks. Even so, I am in the centre of town before midday, after a gorgeous walk in Hagley park.

Thus far, I have seen and done nothing in this city, yet there is a feeling in the air. The last time I got this feeling, it was in Leeds…and I stayed there for five yers.


The Canterbury Museum teaches me some Maori history, but my interest is piqued by their exhibits on Shackleton’s Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition and Scott’s lethal Terra Nova mission. The museum is full of pictures and pieces of kit that simply baffle the 21st Century mind…

How these men achieved what they did is beyond my understanding. They did something with linen sacks and wooden sledges that practically nobody could or would achieve these days with all the weight of technology behind them. It reminds me of the Vikings rowing to America in longboats a thousand years ago.

This, I believe, makes a fundamental point about humanity. Behind all our modern techniques and gadgetry – as important as they are – the single most important and differentiating factor in is entirely human.

This is obvious, but important – because it is something we can control ourselves and develop personally, throughout our own lives. It doesn’t matter what we are directing it at…though adventure is clearly the best goal. Right? Hmm.

Anyway, the centre of Christchurch now comprises of shops made of shipping containers…and it is wonderful. Unlike the over-the-top trendy shipping container shops of East London, these are just normal shops, conducting their business. There is also free Wifi for the entire city centre, which makes the afternoon much easier than I expected.

That said, the destruction caused by the earthquake is haunting. Large open areas dominate even the centre of the city and the condoned off Red Zone lurks on the map like some kind of reaction to the zombie apocalypse. Whether it is the situation or the time of year, it is getting chilly. It almost feels as cold as home. This will not stand!

Realising I have not a single item of warm clothing, I purchase a fleece from the 60% off Kathmandu sale. That and a pizza.

I spend the rest of the late afternoon strolling around the city and trying desperately to work out which type of transport will be best for New Zealand. Bus or rented car?

In the end, I decide I cannot decide. I don’t yet have the experience of the country. I will catch a bus – with a one way ticket, not a pass – to Queenstown and, after a few days of asking around, I will decide how I will adventure in this land.

I hope by car. I expect by bus.

I am alone…and I am not made of money.

I am made of pizza. Mmmmmm.

About the Author
Ed Gamester is a silly man who lives in the United Kingdom. He is the harbinger of Ghost Squad, singer of Gay Bum and author of A Rum Run Awry. He fights, kills and dies for TV and films, and gallivants around the place wrestling, drinking and lifting things for glory and profit. Where Ed treads, there stamp the boots of the Guild. Ed does not wear glasses, but feels this photograph makes him look more intelligent and artistically talented than he is. Feel free to contact him: he is disappointingly affable.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply