Christchurch, New Zealand

It's a truly beautiful city. Everyone who I had talked to before I left raved about how great it was when they were there, and they were right.

The first day was sort of a daze, being wiped out from the lack of sleep. I met Alec another Communications Tech who works at the HF Radio Transmitter site, and we decided to share a room at the YMCA. It is a nice facility, similar to a lot of the accommodations in town. We have a room with three beds, and a common restroom/shower just outside of our door.

Sharing the room it costs us each $25 (NZ or Kiwi) per day. About 12.60 U.S. (The dollar loss against the yen made the rate not quite as good when we left, but when we arrived it was almost 2 Kiwi dollars for every US dollar).

Directly across the street is the old University of Canterbury, which was built in 1877, and a hundred years later when the University moved out, was converted to an arts center. As part of that, the student union is a restaurant and bar known as the Dux de Lux, world known for it's food (mostly vegetarian, and seafood).

We had lunch there, and it is one of the USAP (United States Antarctic Program) hang-outs. The Arts Center is loaded with cafes, theatres, and lots of small shops. On the weekends they have a crafts fair in the courtyard, with lots of vendors selling items.

Christchurch is known as the Garden City. Lots of plants and trees throughout, and lots of parks and open space. Right across the street from the Y is the Botanical Gardens. It's huge! I didn't think to take my camera with me, but Bruce has some photos when he was there a few days later on his page.

Sunday I spent the morning walking around downtown, and finding the electronics shop to pick up some stuff for Bob Zook to take along to the ice.

The CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) was our stop for the afternoon. It is located at the International Antarctic Center at the Airport.
Everyone that is headed to the ice spends a couple of hours here, getting a briefing, and checking that the clothing they picked from your forms, actually fits. Like the video pointed out, poor circulation due to poor fitting clothing, can and has cost people limbs, and worse.

Trying on everything was important, I found someone had put a pair of small wind pants in my bag rather than the extra large it was supposed to be!

Along one wall of the briefing room, they have most of the items that can be issued displayed.
I was issued 5 different types of gloves and mittens. Someone must think it is cold down there.
Alec (my room mate at the Y) and Mary in front of the CDC and Antarctic Visitors Center


Our scheduled departure day was Monday, but only one of the flights from Sunday had actually landed, and there were two other flights ahead of us. The last leg of the journey is provided by the Air Force. It appeared we had a least a couple of days in Christchurch to look forward to.

Tuesday one of the group I was exploring with, had gotten the name and number of a guy that did tours around the area ( Southern Excursions), we decided to go horseback riding. Todd picked us up downtown and took the 6 of us to the 'Longhorn' ranch. About an hour south of Christchurch.
The area was quite nice.  An area of rolling hills located between the pacific ocean, and Lake Ellesmere.   Any of us that thought they knew what they were doing, quickly found out that was not the case, when we discovered that they ride english style. We all had to wear the white helmets, and used the saddles without a horn in the front.
The baby lambs got some
attention when we got
back to the ranch house.
Cindy and Mary giving him some water.

And the other resident

James with a new friend

On the way back we traveled through the town of Lyttleton, the orginal port that was used when the first emigrants arrived. We went over the ridge between Lyttleton and Christchurch and it provided great views of both.

The rest of the week all started out with going to the CDC to pick up our daily $150 (Kiwi) per diem, and then filling the day with sight seeing. Wednesday Bruce and I went up the gondola, (he has some pictures on his page), and Thursday went to Lyttleton for dinner at the Volcano Cafe (Good Seafood).

Transportation is great around the city. The big red bus, has a good schedule and covers most of the areas you might want to get to. Since we took it to the CDC everyday to pick up our money, it worked well to get the $5 (Kiwi) all day pass.

The trolley runs a loop through downtown, and just a block away from the Y.
An afternoon stop in the local pub, usually provided the opportunity to determine if the flight for that day had made it. (It didn't - none did after sunday, until 9 days later on tuesday the following week).

There was a telephone and internet service just around the corner, and I spent quite a bit of time there, checking email.

Being a flight behind the group that was attempting to leave was a great advantage. We found out each evening that we would be staying another day, the group scheduled to fly would regularly have to show up at the CDC. Several times they flew, and 'boomeranged' made the trip down to the ice, but couldn't land, and flew back, or spent several hours waiting to go, and then being cancelled.

Page Five - Christchurch Week 2         Start Page