Last minute New Zealand tourism

November 20-21, 2001

"If I want to talk to people I tell them I'm an astronomer. Otherwise I tell them I'm an astrophysicist."
- Charlie Kaminiski, Univ. of Chicago CARA Astronomer and three time South Pole winter-over.

Cool and cloudy today in Christchurch. Very much San Francisco weather. Spent part of the day with Charlie Kaminski, three time south pole winter over and famed "South Pole Charlie" of Jerri Nielsen's book "Ice Bound". We walked around CHCH, had lunch, and talked about life at the pole during the dark months. I had a fabulous time with him. It was worth staying here the extra day for the chance to spend as much time with him as I did.

Tomorrow, unless the USAP schedules another flight I will have another day to spend in CHCH at the Devon, which the locals call "The Deevon".

Things to do in CHCH when you're dead:

  1. Go to the Canterbury Museum & Look at the old Antarctic exploration stuff.
  2. Go to the Botanical gardens and see the plants
  3. Shop. Everything is cheaper here than everywhere else, especially the U.S.
  4. Bike. There's a rental place near the B&Bs.
  5. Hike. Every third person is backpacking around here.
  6. Eat. There are lots of bistros and restaurants.
  7. Drink. This is New Zealand for God's sake. There are pubs everywhere.
  8. Take a shuttle or the bus to the CDC and play on the computers.
  9. Rent a car and go somewhere else.

Let's not forget it's nearly XMAS here. This is the tree at the international antarctic center, right next to the CDC.

Places "ice people" hang out.
I know of two, so far. One is Bailieys and it's traditional and the other is the Dux de Luxe which is more trendy. Bailieys is undergoing a change, so old timers may find it a little disorienting. There's a pool room in the back with slot machines and they have a stage and a big dance floor. When I walked in the first time I could barely hear over the blare of the "Red Hot Chili Peppers" and felt more like I was in "Carry Nation's" bar back in Los Gatos, CA than New Zealand. The polar thing is being squeezed by the need to entertain the MTV crowd. But everyone there is friendly and understands more about the Antarctic process than you do. For instance, I sat down this evening ordered a beer and when the lady asked me if I was on holiday, I told her I was going to the ice.

"Oh, you probably got bumped off today's flight. Well, you'll go Thursday," is what she told me. Which is correct.

You can also have dinner at Bailieys. Bailieys looks like it's being absorbed by the hotel building in which it's situated. All the employees wear shirts that say "Warner Hotel" (not to be confused with the Windsor B&B which is across the street from the Devon). On Monday at Bailieys, Tony insisted we have "steak with everything," which I had. The main issue with "steak with everything" is that there's a lot of it and it only costs the equivalent of $5US. This is in linewith a restaurant I saw while walking back from the bus this afternoon. It's called, "More Food, Less Plate". More is good in New Zealand.

Another place ice people hang out is "Dux de Luxe". This is a trendy Euro-California restaurant popular with the 20-something crowd. Older people are welcome to eat there too as long as they don't try to be cool. They are also an official "microbrewery" and manufacture their own beer, which isn't that all unusual for Europe (and even now the U.S.) but is somewhat new to NZ. At the Dux de Luxe I had a slice of salmon pizza with cream cheese and red pepper jelly. Man, is that good eatin'.

Interesting beer fact about NZ: beer is more lager style and served cold here--not cellar temp like in the UK, even though the pub scene is dominated by UK culture.

Christchurch is doing its best to be a trendy place. It is extrodinarily scenic and the people are so friendly one worries natural selection may do to them what's happening to the peaceful manatees in Florida.

Went to the CDC to check the manifest. My name is on the list for tomorrow. But I've been here before...

Random Pix from the last two days:

The third is the main parking lot to the USAP & the tourist attractions.

Up in the mountains of New Zealand it looks a bit like a lake Tahoe.

If I hadn't had to fly 20 hours to get here, I'd have thought I was back home near Monterey, California.

This place looks like it could be off Rt.66 in Arizona instead of the New Zealand steppe.