2008 01 21 – Big Trip – Day 265 – New Zealand – The End

Amber Holiday Park, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand 7472 km

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Traffic Jam, Near Christchurch

We left Franz Josef yesterday morning and drove most of the day. The weather was good most of the time, with the sun shining intensely upon us as we climbed from the coast to Arthur’s Pass. The views in the mountains around the pass were quite impressive, with a giant gorge just a few km shy of the mountain divide.

We originally planned to stay at the pass for the night in makeshift camping site, but since we were doing well with the time, we decided to push further towards Chch. We did stop along the banks of the Waimakariri river for the kids to play for a while before continuing on the long drive.

A few km before Christchurch, and after seeing over 20 millions sheep in NZ, we finally got stuck in “sheep traffic”. Farmers were trying to get the sheep to cross the road, but the animals had their own idea. Paola managed to film the episode.

We reached the campground at 7pm. To be honest, the drive was too long. We completed almost 400km, and the children were going nuts in the back of the RV. At least that left all of today in the city and vicinity without too much driving.

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and it was very windy last night and this morning, with spurts of rain and cold. We did get the kids out to the playground for a bit before heading to the Antarctic center.

The NZ Antarctic center was a fun and pleasant place to spend a few cold rainy morning hours. NZ and the US are two of the countries highly invested in scientific exploration of the last continent. There is a huge research and prep center in Christchurch. Flights for Antarctica leave from Chirstchurch airport several times a week in the summer (That’s an ideaJ )

We learned about the continent, the cold temperatures, penguins and human habitation. They have a cold room with a storm simulator that gets the temp down to -18C. Brrr…

The kids enjoyed viewing the blue penguins even though they weren’t doing much. In fact, over the last few weeks, Ron has asked and learned a lot about penguins, including watching Happy Feet and March of the Penguins several times.

After a quick lunch in the RV, we drove into Christchurch city center for a last stroll and souvenir buying. Orr and Shir slept in the stroller for a while and we had some quiet. Later in the afternoon we returned to the Canterbury Museum which we visited three weeks ago. The kids enjoyed playtime in the discovery center, while Paola and I struggled not to fall asleep in the stuffy museum. Seems like there is a lack of oxygen in the museum halls.

Back at the campground this evening, Paola started packing. Writing this last chapter, I am surrounded by mountains of clothes, toys, bags, and equipment that we have been using for the last few months. Tomorrow most of it will go back to the US with us.

It’s hard to believe that our great adventure is almost over. Look for a summary blog in the coming days.

Good night,

-Hemi

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