We spent our 5th day in NZ learning about Antarctica at the International Antarctic center in Christchurch. Of all of the things we’ve done in New Zealand this far in the trip, this was the least interesting for me, but I still got to learn a lot of new information I didn’t know before!
International antarctic center
My there were two activities we did at the Center that I particularly enjoyed. First, I loved the Antarctic Storm simulation. While standing in snow in rubber boots and heavy red coats, we got to experience something that felt almost like an actual Antarctic storm ( not really though, because my dad later mentioned that the winds we experienced in there were 30 mph while in a real Antarctic storm speeds could reach up to 120 mph… but of course they couldn’t do that in the simulation because we would have all frozen to death!)
The other thing I really enjoyed at the Center was the PENGUINS!! I’m not at all a fan of keeping animals in captivity, but apparently these little blue penguins were only the ones that were injured to the point where they wouldn’t have survived in the wild. At the Center, these penguins were nursed back to health and then, based on their new state of health they are released back into the wild.
Other fun things that we did there include riding around in a Hagglund, which is a type of vehicle used by research teams in the Antarctic. It can go through literally anything- water, hills, curves in the snow, etc.
We learned a lot about Antarctica during our visit overall. For example, I didn’t know that Antarctica was classified as a cold dessert. We also learned that at one point, it was connected to both Africa and India, but was also a part of a continent which included New Zealand and Australia. In fact, scientists have found fossils of birch trees on Antarctica, the same kind that are found in Milford Sound.
After finishing up at the Center we headed to town in Christchurch. This was the first place we’ve been in that actually looked like a big city! I learned during our visit that Christchurch had actually suffered in a really big earthquake a couple of years ago. There is an old church there that is in dire need of support to be rebuilt right in the middle of the town.
When we got to town we were all super hungry, and we found this great little eatery called Little High, right by their main bus station. I really liked this place because it had options for everyone, and of a variety of foods- Thai food, Japanese food, Pizza, Burgers, and more. I went with Pad Thai from the Thai place- it’s funny that in different parts of the world the same food can be made so differently! Of course this Pad Thai was probably not like the noodle dishes served in Thailand, but I was surprised to find cauliflower in my noodles, something that I’ve never had in the American version of Pad Thai. The Pad Thai here was also sweeter in flavor, but all in all, it was pretty good.
Our last activity of the day was driving to Kaikoura. This was our last stop before leaving for the North Island. Our plan was to wake up super early to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean on Christmas Eve. The scenery on the route was BEAUTIFUL- the entire sky was pink! Right in front of our hotel we also saw the New Zealand Christmas tree!