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The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch: Last Stop Before Antartica

February 23, 2013

 
Wellington, New Zealand, is the southernmost capital city in the world. And Christchurch, New Zealand is even further south than Wellington. So not surprisingly perhaps Christchurch has traditionally been the launching pad for trips to the Antarctic.
Here’s a picture of Scott and his wife in Lyttelton Harbour in 1910 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Statue).
735px-Robert_and_Kathleen_Scott
And here’s a statue of Scott that was sculpted by his wife after his death, and displayed in Christchurch. I wonder how many men would have the good fortune to have their wives make statues of them after they die.
439px-Scott_Statue
After Scott, both New Zealand and the United States used Christchurch as the launching pad for their missions to the Antarctic. The Americans have there base at McMurdo Sound and New Zealand’s Scott Base is fairly close to it. Here’s a picture of the large hangar that the American Deep Freeze programme keeps near Christchurch Airport.
800px-ChristchurchUSAntarcticCenter
I was at a conference recently and the reception was held at the International Antartctic Centre. It was one of the best conference receptions I’ve been too. First we took a ride around the Centre in a Hagglund (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandvagn_206). It’s an amazing vehicle and we were talking over what felt like a roller coaster ride which included crossing a simulated crevasse, going over water where the whole vehicle was floating for several meters, and going over small, but fairly steep hills. In one case we went over the side of a hill and the vehicle tipped at an alarmingly steep angle, but we survived it. I think that the driver knew what he was doing.
800px-US_5055th_Range_Squadron_M973_SUSV
There were live penguins, a 3-D movie and a simulated storm. Yes it was cold in the storm, but it just felt like a typical winter’s day in Toronto to me.
If you happen to be in the area, I would highly recommend the International Antarctic Centre, and especially for kids.

 

 
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