Monday, September 19, 2011

New Zealand Day 6....kind of.

On day 6, the clouds parted and, wait for it......we actually loaded the shuttle at 6:15am and headed to the CDC to put our extreme cold weather gear on for our departure from Christchurch. Its actually happening!!!!

We got dressed and headed over to a different building for some breakfast. After we ate we had a quick safety briefing and started to board the plane. We were so excited we took lots of pictures.

Once we were in the air, they allowed us to go up into the cockpit and look out the front windows and take some pictures. There were 4 pilots total and they were all really nice about letting everyone take pictures. They even had this secret window that look out into the cargo area to make sure everything was going safely.

About 4 into the flight, they made an announcement that we were officially over Antarctica, so Erin and I took an adventure to the door windows to have a looksie. It was amazing to look out and see all white.

Once we landed, everyone cheered and we slid to a stop. No really, we landed on the permanent ice shelf and slid into place, it was the plan all along.  We all bundled up and headed off the plane and into some waiting vans and deltas (more pictures of the vehicles to come.)

We then had an hour drive into town where we had dinner and another briefing before getting our room assignments. After getting our linen packs, we all walked up to the cargo building and grabbed our luggage. At this point exhaustion kicked in and I was done for the day.

This has been a long time coming, but I am finally here!!!! Yeah!!!!!

Autumn :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Zealand Day 5

Day 5 was the same as the rest, so we ended up with another free day. At this point, we were totally over the free days and running out of money. We were getting a per diem for food everyday, but anything else we did came out of own pocket.  So the idea of another big activity didn't sound so appealing.

So we decided to walk around town and see the city.

On February 22, 2011 the Town of Christchurch, New Zealand suffered from a 6.1 magnitude Earthquake at the city's center. This earthquake ended in 181 deaths making it the 2nd deadliest natural disaster on record for New Zealand. In the 5 months to follow, the town felt over 8000 aftershocks making the rebuilding phase nearly impossible. Some of the aftershocks were at a 7.2 magnitude. And the buildings that made it through the first earthquake soon began to fall. Even in our short time in Christchurch, we felt 2 separate earthquakes.
The most damage happened in their downtown area and the city literally shut down. The core of the city was declared unsafe and fenced up. The entire downtown area is deserted and behind fences. And when I say the entire downtown area, I mean a 2 mile (?) radius of  fence blocking off downtown. Seeing the damage up close was devastating.
Just 2 weeks later, Japan suffered their massive earthquake and New Zealand was left in the media's dust. And the locals aren't afraid to voice their anger in not getting help from other countries because everyone was helping Japan instead.
Here are some of the pictures I captured as we walked around the Red Zone that once was downtown Christchurch. Warning, some of the photos are very sad to look at.

Autumn :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Zealand day 3 & 4

Day 3 started just as early as the day before. We got up at 2:30am for a 3:15am Shuttle pickup. We then got another phone call saying that we had been delayed by 24 hours. So back to bed we went with another free day ahead of us. On Day 3 Erin and jason decided to have a quiet day and I was invited to go with some new friends to a place called Adrenaline Forrest. This is a huge ropes/zip line course that takes about 3 hours. There are 6 different courses, each of them getting higher and harder as you continue on.

I made it through 4 courses before swinging on a rope and getting sideways body slammed into a padded tree. I thought I felt my brain shake a little. Imediately following I started getting a headach and decided to be done for the day.
While the others were continuing on the ropes, I found a neighboring park and animal farm with the biggest ducks I have ever seen. These ducks were roughly the size of lie.

And I kept hearing this static white noise and was wondering what it was. I found this random lifted dock across the parking lot and discovered we were right by the river as it was feeding into the ocean, the scenery was beautiful.

After heading back to town and having some pizza with some new friends, I headed to be early expecting a 2:30am wake up call once again.

Day 4 satrted the same as day 2 and 3. Up at 2:30am, phone call at 2:45, 24 delay, back to bed. Another free day! What are we going to do with so many free days?
Erin had picked up some brochures in her hotel "just in case" we stayed another day. And we decided we wanted to go to the wildlife open zoo. Jason wanted another quiet day, so Erin and I were off to explore!
The park was a lot of fun. We even got the chance to mingle with the natioal bird, the Kiwi. Not so cute in real life.

We hit up the mini ropes course, fed the Giraffes, ate with the Rinos, and got up close with the Leopards. The Leopards were both our favorite, they reminded us of our own cats. There were purring, and letting the zoo keepeer pet them and rub them down, and just playing with eachother.

The park was very spacious and there were even times that we found ourselves just walking through a beautiful landscape.

Then back to the hotels we went for another early night and the the 2:30am wake up call.
Will we ever get to Antarctica?

Autumn :)