Goin' Down, Under travel blog

Christchurch Cathedral and the market

School kids performing Maori dance

Paul & Barb pretending we're in Winnipeg (it was STILL cold!)

Blue Penguins

Barb & Gary: Lunch in Christchurch

Dave, Jim & Karen ... more wine please?


Early this morning we docked at Lyttelton, the port serving the Christchurch community and located about 20 km from the city. Although we've cruising New Zealand for 3 days already, this is our first contact on dry land. We immediately boarded our bus and headed into town for a 1/2 day of touring.

The trip into Christchurch was interesting in that Lyttelton is a small community jammed between high mountains and the sea. The bus climbed up above the town and then we entered a long tunnel through the mountain,coming out onto a vast open plainon which Christchurch (pop. 350,000) is built. Before touring the city itself we headed out to the airport, built by the US Air Force as a staging area for Antarctic expeditions. New Zealand has built awhole industry around the construction and staffing of a permanent research base located on the Antarctic ice: Scott Station. We had the opportunity to visit the InternationalAntarctic Centre, a really neat museum of Antarctic exploraion. The hgihlight of this visit was the chance we were all given to experience a simulated Antarctic blizzard. We were handed big coats with hoods (no they didn't cover our bare legs!) and were then herded into the storm room: a large cold room complete with ice, snow, a sort of igloo shelter, tents and even a snowmobile. With appropriate sound effects (howling wind) we were warned to take shelter as a major storm was coming. Then the artificial winds kicked up and the temperature seemed to drop about 10 degrees (from the initial -5 C.) It was FREEEZING! I started shivering so badly I thought I was going to drop my camera.

I thought it was pretty ironic that with all in our group being from Canada (and most still living in Winnipeg) that we'd pay to experience what most had already paid to get away from!

The Centre has also become a refuge for Blue Penguins, a variety that is found all along the New Zealand coast. Injured birds are sent here for recuperation. They were a most entertaining lot ...

We left the Antarctic Centre and headed back into Christchurch for a quick bus tour ofthe downtown area. Then a bunch of us, including Jim, Karen, Gary & Barb, got of the bus for our own walking tour and lunch. Probably one of the more distinctive characters of Christchurch is sthe large central square dominated, as its name might suggest, by a large Anglican cathedral. The city was apparently founded by a select group of English migrants as a Church of England settlement. The cathedral becamea focal point for community activity. The cathedral plaza is surrounded by shops and the plaza itself is home to a busy market with stalls featuring Maori jewellery, woodcrafts, hats, shirts and other crafts.

We were entertained for a time by a group of students from a local school who performed a variety of Maori dances to promote a cultural festival starting next week. They were quite cute, especially as the boys slapped themselves and stuck out their tongues in Maori warrior fashion.

Walking the streets was a pleasant way to spend what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. And the lunchtime beers and wine didn't hurt either ...

I'm forced to postpone uploading of photos for a few days till we depart the ship. I'll up date the various entries when we're back on dry land in two days.



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