A Taste of the Antartic (Day 94)
Updated: Feb 20, 2018
One of our aims in life is to visit every Continent. We both have 2 left; South America and Antarctic. How many have you got left?
I did think that Tim only had 1 left after visiting Australasia as for years I thought Belize was in South America – and he forgot to correct me! Well, today we had a taste of what Antarctica is like.
After eating delicious pancakes and having a chat, we drove Robin and Jenny to Christchurch Airport as they were visiting a friend in Wellington. Right near the Airport we saw that there was the International Antarctic Centre, the coolest fun in Christchurch!
The highlights were riding in a Hugglund, an all-terrain amphibious vehicle. Tim used to ride in these when he was in the Commandos on tour in Norway– so he experienced the real deal. However, we both enjoyed the experience of the ride today where they simulated the conditions scientists’ experience, driving over rocks, ice, through water, up and down steep hills and deep snow. There was lots of whooping from a few of us!
Another was going into the world’s first indoor Polar storm room. It started at -8 degrees and then they turned the cold fans on to simulate an Antarctic blizzard. The wind speed got to 42.9kph making the room temperate seem like Minus 18.4 degrees. My poor bare legs were frozen. Of course the temperatures in the real Antarctic is a lot colder, the coldest temperature recorded was minus 89.6 degrees at Vostok station in 1983!
We watched a fascinating film showing how rich in biodiversity the Southern Ocean is where scientists discovered a huge variety of aquatic life never seen before, many weird and wonderful shapes and textures. Also we learnt how scientists are drilling through the ice sheet, down through the ocean and then into the seabed to take core samples. The mud that was brought up to the surface was studied and remains of microscopic phytoplankton was found, which lived there when the seas were warmer in the past. A shell shaped like a worm which is extinct now, was also discovered and this lived between 10 – 6 million years ago. All of this gives the scientists clues as to potential effect of warmer climate in the future.
The Centre also care for a number of Little Blue Penguins who have been rescued either when abandoned as chicks or with physical disabilities that would have left them defenceless, and they would not have survived in the wild. We watched some being fed – very sweet. Sadly we missed seeing the Huskies by a few minutes.
And for a bit more fun, we also watched a 4D movie of scenery of the area, which included being sprayed with cold water quite a few times, snowflakes falling on us and our chairs rocking as if we were on a boat going past Icebergs. Lots of education and lots of fun.
This may seem a bit touristy – at least we can decide if we want to do the real thing this time next year – so I wonder what I will be writing about on day 459?!