My time in New Zealand has come to an end. My bike is crated up and ready to be loaded on a boat, bound for Vancouver. While I’m waiting for it to arrive there, I’ll fly back to the US to spend a few weeks visiting some family and friends.
In the week or so since I left Mount Cook, I’ve been in Oamaru and Christchurch.
Oamaru is a great little town with a lot of character…a great place to relax and reminisce on how wonderful New Zealand has been.
One of the big attractions in Oamaru is the blue penguin (which are the smallest penguins on earth) colony on the edge of town.
At the end of every day, the penguins all congregate at the end of this pier to have a couple beers and shoot the shit.
Once it gets dark, they dive into the water, swim ashore, cross the street and head for the hills.
Another attraction in town is the Steampunk HQ. If the word Steampunk doesn’t mean anything to you, congratulations on your lack or nerdiness.
The Steampunk HQ started with this train, which originally was on display in the center of town.
After it became a fairly big attraction, the creators of it decided to open HQ…which I guess you could call an art exhibit or museum devoted to the steampunk genre. Basically, it’s filled with a bunch of weird stuff, and I mean that in the best way possible.
After Oamaru, I reached my final destination in New Zealand…Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. For a city of it’s size, there isn’t a lot to do here, which is a result of a series of earthquakes that destroyed much of the city from 2010-2012.
The earthquakes destroyed over 1000 structures in the CBD. Some buildings are still awaiting demolition, and there is still a LOT of reconstruction to be done.
Of all the reconstruction projects throughout the city, my favorite would have to be the Re:START Mall, which was built shortly after the earthquake from shipping containers. It’s a good thing the architect had a better eye for design than he/she did for spelling and punctuation.
While in Christchurch, it’s worth checking out the Canterbury Museum, if for no other reason than to check out all the info on Antarctica.
Christchurch is known as the gateway to the Antarctic, as all the early expeditions were launched from here, and it is still typically on the route to McMurdo Station and Amundson-Scott Station for all of the researchers working at the south pole.
The Canterbury Museum is loaded with interesting information, along with many artifacts from the stations in Antarctica.
This dome was initially (starting in 1957) used to research small changes in the earth’s magnetic field. It’s made from fiberglass and wood, and held together by brass bolts, as any magnetic materials would’ve caused errors in the magnetic field readings. In 1984, the dome’s glory days had passed, and it was used as a cabin and supply room. And in 2000, things took a turn for the worse when it was converted into a latrine, before being disassembled in 2004 and put on display here.
Below is one of the earliest vehicles used in Antarctica, which turned out to be a flop…more often than not, the crew that was trying to use it would have to drag it around, as the engine was constantly breaking down
And the Sno-Traveler K-95, built by Polaris was one of the first motorized snow toboggans. As someone who grew up in Minnesota, it doesn’t surprise me that a Minnesota based company was involved with designing equipment to be used on the south pole.
Another interesting piece at the museum was a gold plated motorcycle that belonged to Ivan Mauger. Mauger won the World Speedway Championship in 1968 and 1969, and while touring the US after the second victory, the owner of a metal processing company in California told him that he’d gold plate the bike if he won the championship for a record third consecutive year. And you guessed it, he won again in 1970. It took 18 months and $500,000 to gold plate everything on the bike (inside and out) except the flywheel, connecting rods, piston, valves, rocker arms, and bearings.
Sorry about the low quality pictures…they were taken with my phone, and the bike was behind glass.