Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards may spend some time recovering in Auckland after being discharged from the Ascot Hospital yesterday.
Less than four days after surgery to relieve bleeding in his skull, Richards left the hospital early yesterday morning for an undisclosed location.
His United States-based spokeswoman Fran Curtis said: "He will be an outpatient returning to the hospital for check-ups."
The band's European tour has been delayed but is scheduled to begin next month.
The 62-year-old rocker, who has survived drug addiction, accidents and a lifetime of excess, was admitted to the Ascot twice in the past two weeks after falling 5m from a coconut tree in Fiji and being flown to New Zealand.
He had been holidaying there with wife, Patti Hansen, fellow Stone Ronnie Wood and Wood's wife, Jo.
Richards is thought to be recuperating with his wife in a rented house in the Epsom area of Auckland
His four children - Marlon (with wife Lucie), Angela (both from his previous marriage to Anita Pallenberg), Theodora and Alexandra - had all been at their father's bedside during the week.
Richards was taken to the Ascot last month. A source told the Herald last week that on April 28 he underwent the first of two operations to relieve bleeding in his skull.
Speculation still surrounds that procedure, but his New York-based publicist confirmed an operation was done on Monday.
Before leaving the Ascot yesterday Richards released a statement in which he thanked hospital staff.
"Personally I would like to thank everyone at Ascot Hospital for the truly wonderful care I received.
"From the doctors to the beautiful ladies who make painful nights less painful and shorter.
"I'm pretty much at a loss for words to express my deep gratitude.
"I hope I wasn't too much of a pain in the arse - after all it was my head they fixed.
"Many thanks, Kiwis."
It seems that Richards, in turn, made a favourable impression on staff at the Ascot.
Hospital chairman Richard Fisher told 3News: "We think it's been a pleasure having him here. We've been impressed by the restraint shown by the media in New Zealand.
"I think the nurses have loved looking after him."
Richards' departure from hospital, under his own steam would appear to be at odds with claims in London's Sun newspaper yesterday that the ageing hellraiser was not likely to play live again and may have suffered brain damage and partial paralysis.
Former top model Jerry Hall, ex-wife of Stones singer Mick Jagger, told the Sun yesterday that Richards was "doing very well".
She said she had been in email contact with Richards' family.
"We are very upset about it [the injury].
"Mick is on holiday at the moment so he is hearing the same news as we are," said the 49-year-old from Texas.
Richards' accident has, however, forced the postponement of the Continental leg of the Stones' A Bigger Bang concert tour, which was to have begun in Barcelona on May 27. They performed in Auckland on April 16.
- additional reporting: NZPA