Paleobotany

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand

We finished our field clothing ‘try-on’ this afternoon and have been told to report tomorrow (Weds) at 7:00 am. for our flight to the Ice. Of course, we’ve also been told that the weather is currently bad there, so we may not fly. Already, the ‘hurry up and wait’ that is so typical of Antarctic field work has started!

We arrived yesterday (Monday here) after our very long flight. Around midday, we took the bus into downtown Christchurch, visited the Botanical Garden and the Canterbury Museum. The weather is beautiful (as it’s spring here) and Christchurch is not called the Garden City for nothing. The gardens are spectacular! It seems every house has a neat little garden, some with roses blooming that are a half-foot across. We are too late to see the tree-sized rhododendrons, however, as this is later than we’ve left for the Ice before.

The Canterbury Museum had a spectacular exhibit of photographs from Robert Falcon Scott’s 1911 expedition to the Pole and Shackleton’s 1914-1917 trans-Antarctic expedition. Their ship was trapped in the ice in the Weddell Sea (first leg of their journey), crushed, and eventually sank. He and all his men survived by taking the life boats to Elephant Island (after dragging them across the ice) and then Shackleton and two others went on to South Georgia Island to get help. The Canterbury Museum had photos and artifacts (clothing, equipment, etc.) of the two expeditions and it was an amazing display. Makes you very grateful for high-tech synthetic clothing, helicopters, and aircraft! 

Our field party (including the two researchers from Wisconsin that we hadn’t met yet) are a great group of people and we have had great fun so far, so I’m sure it will go well on the Ice. 

—Edith