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In the spring of 2016, Henderson Productions took an extended do-it-yourself driving tour of New Zealand.   We’re excerpting portions of our trip in this blog beginning with https://focusbyhenderson.com/tips-from-a-kiwi-local-in-christchurch/.    

We departed Dunedin around 9:30 headed north to Christchurch and the Antarctic Experience making one decent pit stop along the way to see the Moeraki Boulders – a bizarre set of huge, round granite rocks scattered on a portion of the Pacific coast beach.    Very strange.  They look like giant dinosaur eggs and the occasional split apart one also looks like they were broken from the inside out to allow escape from whatever was within.  Regardless, it’s a cool break and stretch immediately off the Rt 1 highway that runs from top to bottom of the country. 

The Moeraki Boulders along the south island’s east coast.

It’s a five-hour journey northward with interesting things to see along the way.    We have been entertained trying to pronounce the New Zealand names of places passed.   Try this one on – kept us busy for a while – Waianakurua”.    Yeah.   A decided lack of vowels.    We asked the gas station attendant to help us with it and he said “the hach – for h – is silent”.    Um???     In any case, he told us everything starting with wai means there’s good eating there since it’s Maori for meal.   Well THAT explains a lot.

Tons of pastoral views, not many pullouts for viewpoints, cheese factory store signs, “St. Andrews – the home of foot golf” – uh, ok.    Might wanna look that one up.   We passed the Timura Racecourse with a statue of Phar Lap which is a famous racehorse.   Lots of New Zealand’s horse country south of Christchurch and then we made it to the Antarctic Experience in time to see the 3:30 PM blue penguin feeding. All their penguins are rescues and/or in need of hospitalization.    They use them as research and ambassadors to protect the natural habitats.    We very much appreciated seeing them pretty close and not through windows.

Endangered yellow-eyed penguin

Once the feeding was completed, we experienced the Antarctic through an amazing museum detailing what it was like to discover, what it’s like to get there and live there now, what scientists are discovering on a day-to-day basis and what they’ve found so far.    A series of marvelous exhibits is supported and continually updated with the Antarctic Expeditionary campus – including the USAF – right next door.    There’s a photograph from Scott or McMurdo Stations every single day with minute-by-minute weather and satellite images as well as an area where you don arctic gear and feel the temps of a 30-mph wind chill down to -20 degrees F.     We LOVED it.   The museum ends with a 17-minute IMAX movie showing all aspects of the continent.    Frankly, just made me want to go there more.

The public Antarctic Experience shares space with many country’s non-public expedition locations including this one from our home country.

Into downtown Christchurch after another stop at our original New World grocery store for breakfast and lunch provisions for the next day.    We were quietly ensconced and zonked by 9 PM but not without a bird’s eye view of the “Rumble in the Rubble” happening in Cathedral Square below our hotel.    It’s a monthly boxing event held for charity down in another empty lot waiting to be rebuilt.    Just made me like the folks of Christchurch even more.    Indominable.

What’s your experience in New Zealand?   We’d love to hear your

thoughts and suggestions on Facebook at “suehendersonphotography