Thursday, December 6, 2007

December 7, 2007
Christchurch NZ

Time: 9 am
Latitude: 43° 31.742’ S
Longitude: 172° 37.846’ E
Temperature: 11°C (52°F)
Wind speed: 7km/h (11 mph)
Wind Chill:
Clouds: partly cloudy/sunny
Wind direction: West
Relative Humidity: 71 %
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: 0

It is early morning and I am sitting here in my hotel room drinking some
tea and eating my first Kiwi fruit since I have been here in New
Zealand. New Zealand is affectionately know as Kiwiland and New Zealanders
often referred to as Kiwis. Though a Kiwi is actually a native bird,
which I have not ever seen. New Zealand is a very fascinating place. It
is not much farther south in latitude than my home north of the equator
but very different. It is a relatively small island, actually two main
and a few other islands, where the original native population are know
as Maoris. The people here are incredibly friendly and courteous and
some of the nicest people I have met anywhere. The weather is semi arid
here is Christchurch and there are year round mild temperature and
little rain. Though one part of NZ is the wettest place on Earth and
receives more than “ of rain a year. The most obvious thing I noticed
here in Christchurch is the vegetation. Remember again that it is
spring time and everything should be in bloom but the fragrance in the
air is far more striking than any other spring anywhere else that I
have witnessed. There are also an incredible array of trees and plants.
Your basic Elms and Oak trees but also palms, bushes/hedges with very
waxy leaves, grass in town as if you are in Brittan (it is very British
like here in food and custom) and sports like lawn bowling are popular.
I am not a botanist and I do have a nice garden at home but many of the
vegetation here reminds me of places like Bermuda and other island

Our flight this morning could have been as earlier as
6 am arrival at the CDC but the note in the hotel , from the CDC, says
that it is now a 12:45 arrival with a possibly 3 pm flight. Not a bad
deal as we get to sleep through, have another lovely Kiwi style
breakfast, and enjoy Christchurch a little while longer. Though
scheduling a 3pm flight does not give me a lot of confidence about the
weather. It the weather across was good we would be at the airport
right now sitting around on a warm morning in bundles of very warm
clothing. To delay the flight might mean? Well I do not know exactly
but suffice to say the weather is not right for flying to Antarctica.
The other thing is that having come to NZ to play would have been great
and something I would like to do in earnest one day but I came here to
go to Antarctica. If, by chance, we are delayed another day then I have
to start finding other things to do. I am not a shopper. I prefer to
get all my shopping done on-line and would be happy never to go into
another store ever. And I have been eating more than I normally would
with the poor excuse that I need to put on some weight and store some
calories for Antarctica. Well, that is sort of true but we will have
three cooks at ourWAIS Divide ice coring site and no lack of food. There are also fantastic all you can eat meals in McMurdo. So, excess eating here is nothing more than an excuse at this point. Basically, I am off my normal life style schedule and if we are delayed another day I am cutting food by half (back to normal) and although
most of my clothes etc are packed and at the CDC I have to find some
recreation. Not even any running for exercise as my sneakers are packed
at the CDC. I could do some very long walks around town for exercise
and/or go to the YMCA a few blocks away get into the weight room, the
pool, or they even have a rock climbing wall. I have not actually done
a workout for over a week with packing and preparing and flying and
repacking so it about time to get out for some exercise – walking
around town does not count. Once I get to McMurdo I can run, ski, walk,
climb (they had a small climbing wall last time I was there) and any
number of other physical activities that will keep me in shape (other
than packing gear boxes for the field site). Once I am at the drill
site I will be doing so much physical labor, with a little skiing and
shoveling thrown in, that exercise will not be a problem.

Speaking of eating, breakfast is served here at 7 am and my excuse for this
morning is that I worked up an appetite writing and I am sticking by
it. I will cut down at lunch, really. Here is the view out of my hotel
window and a picture of Sylvia posing with the "penguin" outside the
International Antarctic Centre tourist display near the CDC.

Well, our flight was moved to noon today. Then at 11:30 we got the word that the flight was moved to 9 pm. What does an Antarctic crew do with 5 hours off? They go to the beach. We took a bus to Sumner and did a beautiful coastal cliff walk called Taylor's Mistake. Five hours of spectacular scenery - a must do hike. Then back to our favorite Thai restaurant for supper and now it is *:15 and we are waiting for either our 8:30 shuttle back to the CDC and our awaiting plane, or another delayed flight call. Do we get one more night in NZ? We find out in an hour and it may be breakfast in McMurdo.


megan said...


Happy to hear that your travel went very smoothly. Kay is happy in Fl and enjoying her brand of good weather.

I hope you made it over to Antarctica and are eating heartily! Hopefully some of our students will be writing to you soon. I can't wait to hear more about your travels! megan

Mischmom said...

Hello Zach,

I am the mother of one of your Antarctic adventure colleagues, John. I want to thank you and let you now how much I appreciate your daily entries and photos of your group's activities. Your writings are insightful and very interesting ... especially since you have have made the trip to Antarctica previously!

Thanks to you, I have learned about your flight delays. Hopefully, you are now enroute (or have already safely land) to McMurdo. I am confident that you will notify everyone the soonest after you have arrived!

Enjoy your adventure ... as I will do through your blogspot!

"Mischmom" (John's mom)