Before leaving Christchurch we made a quick detour to the Antarctic. Glad we brought our coats. Brrrrr. Actually, we visited the International Antarctic Centre where the nearest mainland base for the US, NZ and Italian is. From here the crew and supplies are flown to their respective Antarctic bases. There was some geological information provided on the continent as well as treaty and agreements among the world’s countries. To give us a bit of the taste of being there in the winter, we were taken to a simulation room that was packed with snow. There, the lights were lowered to simulate winter and the temperature dropped to 23. I thought, “eh. New England.” Then the wind machines started. When the wind chill factor kicked in for 0 degrees, I revised my opinion. There was a neat 4D cinema shot through the Antarctic with seals, penguins, icebergs, water spray and wind. We also got a cute view of the little blue penguins.
The Flat, Flat Land of Invercargill
The remainder of the day was dedicated to travel. We flew to Invercargill where we had a lecture introducing us to Southland, the southernmost province. This area is the agricultural backbone of New Zealand. It is amazingly flat. The cool thing about the lecture was he and I have both been to Magnolia, Arkansas. He was explaining a local large hydro dam that was exclusively built for the manufacture of aluminum. During that explanation he discussed bauxite and its sources. “I’ve been to Arkansas, which is beautiful. But, I can’t remember the name of the little town.” Guess what? He stayed in Magnolia, he guest taught at Magnolia High School, and he met Dr. John Ruff. It truly is a small, small world.
From Invercargill we drove through the Southland toward Fjordland and the hamlet of Te Anau on Lake Te Anau. The drive was about 3 hours through beautiful land and along the Tasman Sea. See my pictures at flickr.