Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Off to Otipua and Aoraki. Reflecting on Christchurch and its connection with Antarctica.

I've been in Christchurch for just over 3 days and I am heading off to Otipua, a small community west of Timaru, to stay with my daughter Anita and her three children.

After six days on the beaches in the Bay of Plenty and the bush of the Urewera region last week, I want to see the big mountains. It is only an hour and a half from Otipua to Aoraki Mount Cook so hopefully during a fine spell, I will travel to Mount Cook.

In the last few days, I have been out walking with Ruia and we have taken a few photo that I have posted below that exemplifies why I love New Zealand. Lyttelton and Christchurch have a close connection with Antarctica, and I have been reflecting a little on the 13 months I spent there many years ago. In the winter of 1970, we were the smallest group at that stage, to winter over in Antarctica.

When I walk among the ferns in the forests, I feel protected.

I think it was Shakespeare who wrote, " That time of year or when yellow leaves or none do hang.... The bare branches and falling leave tells me it is winter.

The Kowhai is my favourite native flower and I have three trees flowering in my house in Christchurch along with the daffodils and Camellias.

I love walking over the Port Hills and around Lyttelton as is a sort of 'Turangawaiwai' for me. My Father was born here, my grandfathet ran a fishing boat here, and it was the port that Shackleton and Scott departed for Antarctica.

I saw Tui in the Urewera but in Christchurch, I see only sparrows.

While strolling around the Port Hills and Godley head, I thought of those soldiers, men and women, who defended our country here and abroad. On Godley head there are many coastal defence artillery posts built in 1940. I could hear the voices of the men and women who built and kept these posts during the war years.

The entrance to Lyttelton Harbour where Scott and Shackleton departed for Antarctica. I walked over these hills on Monday. See reference below.

Morning, Discovery and Terra Nova at the Port of Lyttelton during the British Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904.

Scott and Shackleton chose the Port of Lyttelton as the New Zealand base for their Discovery, Nimrod and Terra Nova expeditions. Scott was reportedly given two choices of base for his first expedition: Melbourne and Christchurch - each of which had a magnetic observatory. He may have chosen Christchurch simply because it was closer to the Antarctic, but the presence of his cousin, R.J. Scott, a Professor of Engineering at the University of Canterbury, may also have had an influence. As in Port Chalmers, there were generous offers of goods and services from the Harbour Board and local businesses. Scott and Shackleton were rewarded with similar generosity on their subsequent expeditions, as was the Australasian Antarctic Expedition when its ship the Aurora called at Lyttelton in 1912.

Shackleton's ship Nimrod,which used Lyttelton as a base.

A 2007 study carried out by Lincoln University estimated that Antarctic-related activities directly contribute $88 million each year to the Canterbury region, with an indirect benefit of $155 million. They directly contribute $133 million to the New Zealand economy, with an indirect benefit of $282 million.
It wasn't until the initial stages of Operation Deep Freeze that Christchurch began to be heavily used again. Harewood Airport, now Christchurch International Airport, was the base for 14 of the aircraft involved in the first flights between New Zealand and the Antarctic in December 1955 (four others were based at Taieri Airport, near Dunedin), while Lyttelton was the base for seven supporting United States Navy vessels. Operation Deep Freeze was subsequently supported by many New Zealand ports, but its New Zealand base remained in Christchurch. Regular support missions continue to be flown from the airport, while the port is used to refuel and replenish supply vessels.

In 1969 as a 21 year old, I flew from Christchurch to Antarctica where I was a science technician and wintered over at Vanda Station. So Christchurch has been a departure point for me on a number of expeditions throughout the world. In 1968 before my departure to Peru on a New Zealand mountaineering expedition, I stayed with Harry, Hillary Pene and Ben Evison in their home in Scarborough. From their home we could hear the booming buoy that warned ships of danger. Two days later I left Lyttelton on a ferry to Wellington.

Christchurch has a special place in my heart's history.


BLS said...

Nice to see some other Chch photos I hope you see the mountains but maybe its raining cats and dogs there tomorrow.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Greetings, Its 10 pm and the stars are shining bright, I think it will be a fine day tomorrow.
Tks for yr comments. Bob

Marja said...

Oh great pictures. Didn't know you were from Lyttelton We often walk up to the timeball or recently have done the briddle path and than have lunch in the Lyttelton cafe.
We also often walk from Taylers mistake up to boulders Bay or to the place on your photo's at Godley Head. A magnificent area.
Have to head of at work. Have taken a class yesterday a few times so to exhausted to Blog
but was great fun.
A petty that I just missed you again (as usual) I am meeting up with another Blogger. She is a travel writer so that's gonna be interesting. We could have had a Christchurch Bloggers meeting or something
Anyway time to go Have a great time with your daughter and head home safely

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Marja
Those walks and places you mention are enjoyable and scenic places to visit. A shame we missed. I will be in Timaru/Aoraki for a week then over to the West Coast.

Have a relaxing weekend.


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