In New Zealand!

Christchurch Travel Blog

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The beautiful Avon River flowing through downtown Christchurch.

Yesterday we left Oz en route to Christchurch, New Zealand.  When we departed Melbourne, the weather was beautiful and sunny but a tad bit nippy.  We arrived in Christchurch to torrential rains and a cutting wind.  Thankfully, by this morning, the wind and rain had subsided and left us with a gorgeous day ... but one of only 42 degrees.  In fact, some of the places to which we journeyed today had patchy, light snow on the ground.

We did little sightseeing yesterday, primarily because the weather stank.  We were able to explore the city's heart, which is Cathedral Square.  Christchurch is very British, reflected in the place names and architectural styles.

I knew we took a wrong turn somewhere.
  A lovely, albeit tiny, river called the Avon flows right through the heart of downtown and by our hotel.  Monuments to kings, queens, and war heroes dot the parks.  The city has more of a town feel than that of a metropolitan area.

While Miller munched on a pastry at a coffee shop, Sheldon and I went to church -- to the Anglican Evensong service at the cathedral.  The inside of the building is gorgeous, although its age is a but a flash in time compared to the great cathedrals of Europe.  The Cathedral Choir, which was all male and included members of their boy choir, sang the service and the vice dean, a soft-spoken woman, officiated.  And, of course, the church service was accented by their amazing pipe organ which made the flags under the biggest of the pipes billow with each booming bass note.

In the simulated Antartica environment, this was as warm as it got.

This morning we slept in (the first such treat of the holiday) and then headed to the International Antarctic Centre.  Christchurch is THE jumping off point for scientific expeditions into the Antarctic.  Seventy percent of the traffic to the frozen continent originates here.  The Centre takes you through an amazing journey of Antarctica... from the forms of transportation critical to any mission (including the planes, which naturally made Sheldon drool), to the food and lodging on the bases, to their scientific research (particularly on the ozone layer and on the animal life on the continent), to the weather patterns... and on and on.  The highlight had to be standing in a room that simulated an Antarctic storm.  The lights dimmed to a faint almost nonexistent glow.

The mock storm, which brought horrific wind chills, blowing snow, and downright cold.
  The wind speeds howled at 40 km/hr (24 mi/hr), which caused the snow to swirl about in a stinging fashion.  The tempertature precipitously dropped nearly to zero degrees Farenheit... and the wind chill was numbing.  We all gained a new, deeper appreciation for the sacrifices of the scientists and adventurers who dedicate a year or more on Antarctica.  Before we knew it, we had spent almost three hours at the Centre!

We then whisked up to the mountains (which the Kiwis call the foothills of the Southern Alps, our destination tomorrow) to Mt Cavendish, which is the extinct volcano that overlooks Christchurch.  We were ferried to the top by gondola and then spent a couple of hours hiking about on the various crater rim trails.  The vistas were stunning, and we later drove the rim road to get some different vantage points.

Look for pictures later.  We're using an internet lounge at the moment.  Hope everyone is well!!

-Chris

 

 

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The beautiful Avon River flowing t…
The beautiful Avon River flowing …
I knew we took a wrong turn somewh…
I knew we took a wrong turn somew…
In the simulated Antartica environ…
In the simulated Antartica enviro…
The mock storm, which brought horr…
The mock storm, which brought hor…
Christchurch Cathedral in the hear…
Christchurch Cathedral in the hea…
The view from the Skyline Drive ar…
The view from the Skyline Drive a…
Evensong at Christchurch Cathedral.
Evensong at Christchurch Cathedral.
Chris in his first igloo.
Chris in his first igloo.
Another wrong turn led us to Walth…
Another wrong turn led us to Walt…
The gondola that took us to the to…
The gondola that took us to the t…
Ah, finally a right turn.  Fitzger…
Ah, finally a right turn. Fitzge…
Christchurch
photo by: Fulla