Christchurch Antarctic Centre

New Zealand is famed for its fine summers and chilly winters, but in winter it can get a little beyond just ‘chilly’. However, the real frozen zones are south of New Zealand, to the Antarctica. Long seen as one of the most amazing parts of the world, where animals not seen in most locations of the world enjoy freedom and live in abundance.

However, not everybody is quite so keen to go on a scientific expedition to research penguins or the ice caps, are they? This is where the beauty of the Antarctic Centre comes in. known to be one of the most visited tourist attractions in New Zealand, it goes a little beyond that. Home to many of the Antarctic missions undertaken by foreign countries, it is about as close as you can get to the Antarctic without actually going in there.

The visitors center is a true wonder to behold – the Antarctic itself is extremely difficult to navigate and roads are constantly having to be formed by scientists as they go, and seeing just how vast the area is coupled with how little roads there actually are, it makes you see just how hard at work these scientists are.

You can visit Captain Scott’s diary, who was the famous South Pole explorer who first left notes about his findings here. You are taken into a massive complex which depicts his findings and gives you a pretty excellent mockup of what you can expect out there on the Antarctic, if you were to ever go deep enough. This is a real tourist trap – being able to stand in a pretty outstanding replica of the Antarctic is as close as you will get to going out into the real thing.

However, the real highlight is the Antarctic Storm, which gives you a real taster of the biting temperatures out there. You move into a huge glass paneled room with shelter to give you cover from the “brrrr” inducing -5 degrees temperatures within.

You are given full snow attire to try and keep you as warm as possible, but with the authentic wind generators keeping it as cold as it actually is out there, it can go as low as a frightening a -18.7 degrees! This may not quite be the -48 degrees that some Russian scientists endure in Vostok, but it’s still freezing!

The Christchurch Antarctic Centre provides a real opportunity to see what it is like out there for the scientists and what they have to endure and go through, as well as giving you further explanations and facts about how one of the most interesting parts of the world is being explored and researched every single day.

Things I like the most about living in New Zealand

I thought I’d just share with you today some of the reasons I really like living in New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud. Read along, and if you have your own reasons, please share them: I love to get to know my readers.

The weather: four seasons in one day and year

Yep – the weather in New Zealand sure changes. That is because we are so close to the sea. I live in Christchurch and you are never within 1 hour of the sea, it is fantastic. The furtherest you would normally be in New Zealand from the ocean would be a couple of hours, maximum. The consequence is that our weather is heavily regulated by the ocean: which means it doesn’t get too hot, but it doesn’t get too cold. While here, you’ll discover the it can goes through all four seasons in a single day, especially in Auckland where rain is very common. The variety means you get to have a lot of different experiences.

The scenery: it is absolutely gorgeous

Of course I was going to mention this! Everyone knows New Zealand is beautiful. If you don’t, I really don’t know where you have been living all of these years. But let me tell you now: no where in the world compares to New Zealand. Now I know there are lots of countries with natural beauty. Yes, if you go to Canada, you’ll find lots of different places that have great, fantastic scenery. But here is something: you have to drive out to experience it. Not so here. In Christchurch, a breath-taking view is just 20 minutes away. A stunning mountain view is just half an hours drive. No matter where you drive to, once you live the (small) cities, you uncover wonder. Our roads are narrow and bumpy, but that is because they aren’t just concrete. It is driving through paradise.

The people: everyone knows everyone

Yep – we all know each other here. I guess that is what happens when you live in a place as small and tight-knit as New Zealand, people get to know one another. In Christchurch, it doesn’t take that much to discover a link to someone through your high school friends. One of the phrases I’ve been saying a lot is “its a small world after all” because it really is when you live here. And best of all, everyone is friendly and nice – if you need directions, be sure to ask for help, everyone is happy to talk with you.

So there you go! I’m a bit biased, but these are my personal reasons why I love our country.

Christchurch life, buildings and storage post earthquakes

Christchurch storage unitsOn September 4th, Christchurch was struck by a fierce earthquake. When the dust cleared, everyone was amazed – and relieved. No one had died, and there were not even any serious injuries as a result of it. Besides a few heritage buildings, life returned to relatively normal, and the streets were opened once again. Even a boxing day earthquake wasn’t enough to bring the city down.

But all of that changed on February 22. On that fateful day, at about 1pm, a second – and more vicious – earthquake struck the city. It was technically smaller than the first earthquake. But unlike the first, it was much, much closer. It was extremely shallow, and the type of shaking was very unusual. The result is that at the end of the day, the city lay in shreds. Buildings crumbled to the ground, and houses were abandoned. People in Christchurch were using storage units to keep their items together, because they couldn’t keep them safely in their houses.

But that was not all there was to be. In June 2011, the city was struck by another dagger as a huge earthquake rippled the city. Because of that, the opening of the CBD red zone was put off, and more buildings were deemed unsafe. More storage containers were seen littered around the city, and storage containers even began to be used to hold up buildings. The liquifaction came back in full-force. In the February earthquake, the student volunteer army had been strong and vibrant. People registered and gave their support. Life was hard, but everyone would recover. But the June earthquake sucked the life out of the population. That was 3 major earthquakes. Who is to say there wouldn’t be another one – and we would have to clean up all over again?

And then it struck. There were several months of calm, and people began to suspect – and hope – that the earthquakes had finished. But December 23rd was set to hit, and rattle the city to its core again. It struck during the bussiest shopping day, throwing businesses in the lurch. Millions of dollars were lost, as consumers fled the malls.

But something was different about that day. Christchurch residents had been through so much. They had weathered many quakes and shakes. They had come together to support each other, and then they had all crumbled in the face of fear. But that day, everyone carried about their lives. They picked themselves up and, when the malls re-opened, they went shopping. No matter what, they decided, they weren’t going to put their lives on hold. Life was too short.

Today the city stands strong. No major earthquakes have hit it in over 18 months. As Christchurch rebuilds, we will stand with it, and make it as great as it used to be.