Sunday, February 16th
Today began with “Breakfast with the Penguins” at the International Antarctic Centre.
We were able to visit before the centre opened to the public. We were the only group of visitors touring the facility! Our breakfast was in front of the glass enclosure for the Little Blue penguins. During breakfast our docent presented a slideshow/talk about the centre and her journeys to Antarctica. It was interesting to hear about how the centre participates in the research base for the United States, New Zealand, Italy and South Korea. Christchurch is the closest mainland city to getting to Antarctica.
The International Antarctic Centre offers experiences similar to actually visiting Antarctica. We had the option of dressing accordingly and go into the Storm room. It is chilled to -8 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit) and a wind chill machine that drops it to -18 degrees Celsius (about -.04 degrees Fahrenheit).
We also saw a 4D theater show film called “Ice Voyage”. It takes you on a trip to Antarctica! You experience wind, snow, water spray, motion action seats and other effects. Having been to Antarctica, we enjoyed the film and the expedition company used in the film was the same one that we were on when we went!
We went to the airport for our flight to Invercargill!
After arriving, we stopped for a lecture from a local expert who explained about Southland and its agricultural importance to New Zealand.
Our motorcoach then headed to Te Anau which is located on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau. The lake is the second largest in New Zealand. On our way there we had a comfort stop at McCracken’s Rest. It is a beautiful lookout over Te Waewae Bay.
Upon arrival and check in to our hotel, we spent time doing laundry and then walked along the lake and into the city. We are staying here because it is located by Fiordland National Park and our destination tomorrow!