8 February, 1999
Monday, February 8, 1999
Hello from New Zealand! We arrived yesterday and had a wonderful (but long) flight. I'm so glad to finally be here! Including my eight hour layover in the Los Angeles Airport, it took nearly 30 hours from the time I left Indianapolis until I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand. That doesn't include the fact that Christchurch time is 18 hours ahead of Indianapolis time. In other words, when I arrived at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, it was 5:30 p.m. on Saturday back at home! Thankfully, we will continue use New Zealand time when we get down to Antarctica (at least for a little while).
We are scheduled to fly down to Antarctica on Wednesday, February 10. Yesterday, we spent some time exploring Christchurch. It's a beautiful city . . . with lovely gardens, wonderful old buildings, and amazing temperatures! It must be over 80 degrees outside (with lots of sunshine). New Zealand consists of two main islands, North Island and South Island, as well as several smaller islands. Christchurch is located on the eastern side of the South Island. A mountain range called the Southern Alps extends along almost the entire length of the South Island. These mountains are formed as two tectonic plates are smashing into each other. Because this process is still happening, the Southern Alps are uplifting as much as 10 mm per year. There are also mountains on the North Island, but many of them are volcanic and they are caused by a different process.
Later today, we are going to drive southwest of Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park. Mt. Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, and it stands 3,753 meters tall. I sure hope the weather continues to be as nice as it has been. Speaking of weather, I have a question for you. How can it be 80 degrees outside when I'm so far south of the equator? Tune in tomorrow for the answer.
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