Friday, December 5, 2003

24 Hours in Christchurch (3 of ?)

Today, on my one and only day in Christchurch, I started off by going to the International Antarctica Center.  (Billed as the "World's Best Antarctica Attraction."  Was only after I left that I thought, "Exactly how many Antarctica attractions ARE there?")  It is quite nifty as the touristy section is actually located on the site of a real International Antarctica Center (New Zealand, the U.S., and Italy teamed up on it -- and they send their research teams to Antarctica from this center near the Christchurch airport).  It had all sorts of hands-on exhibits (feel the cold of a snow and ice storm!), but what I liked the best was stuff related to the real research centers in Antarctica.  The New Zealand center sends back one digital photo each day to the museum -- sort of a photo journal -- and it was just amazing to see life in Antarctica via photos and a single line of text per day.  (And you could also ride in this all-terrain vehicle they use in Antarctica.  The ride itself was kinda cool, but somehow I was more impressed by the fact the vehicle itself was autographed by Sir Edmund Hillary.)

My "average Kiwis" from dinner the other night said that if I only had one day in Christchurch, I should see the gardens (it is called "The Garden City" and all).  OK.  Got back from the Antarctica museum and figured on a stroll through the gardens -- better yet, they had punt rides down the river that ran through.  (The river is the Avon.  Christchurch is also called "The most Southern English city.")  I walked over to the boathouse and spoke with the nice man about getting a punt ride.  The problem was that they had a two-person minimum and, if you didn't notice, there's only one of me.  I didn't really want to pay double for a punt ride, so he offered me an in-between price.  I agreed, and waited ten minutes for the next punt to return. 

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