Really, it’s a simple question:
Would you rather follow me to Christchurch for a week to attend the New Zealand and Australian Marine Sciences Conference, or go with Todd for an overnight trip to the Fiordland region (southwest corner of the south island)? Incidentally, the later includes a helicopter ride over Doubtful Sound. Let me put it another way: Here is my best photo from the week , and here is Todd’s . I reiterate, an easy decision.
The conference was not bad by any means. It was a good opportunity for me to hear what’s hot in marine science around Australasia. I thought the talks on aquaculture and marine bio-invasives (they call this biosecurity here) were really forward thinking and provocative. I found it interesting that the “scientist as an advocate” debate was raging over here too and ruffled some feathers at a few talks. Most of all I enjoyed hearing the talks by all the other people who work at NIWA. People I see daily and chat too, but only had a vague idea what they do. Now I really have a sense of the research these folk do and their skills. I also gave a talk which went ok but, again, it was especially good for my colleagues at NIWA to hear what I am working on besides “albatrosses”. Christchurch itself did not impress me too much. Quite different from Wellington. ChCh (that’s the handy kiwi abbreviation) was flat and cold. About 4 C (yes, using Celsius more and more). Brrrr! On my brief stroll around town I walked through 2 well-manicured parks (parks in Wellington consist of trails through bush), saw 5 homeless people (that’s 5 times as many as I have every seen in Wellington), and walked past 8 churches (no exaggeration here. I know where 3 churches are in all of Wellington). Plus, each night we went out for dinner and drinks, we were pushed out of closing bars by 10:00. Granted this was Monday thru Thursday nights (and we did find a couple cool places to hang out), but this would never happen in Wellington. I guess the big plus to ChCh is the close proximity to everything else on the south island: mountains, water, skiing, hiking, fiords, etc. But, despite being New Zealand’s second largest city with 400,000 (behind Auckland’s 1.3 million), it did not compare to Wellington.
As for Todd’s trip to the south island, I cannot not describe much beyond his stories (they pulled some tourists out of a ditch after they skidded off an icy patch in the road) and the photos . They flew to Queenstown and drove to Te Anau, where the helicopter awaited them. They had to fix a GPS up on a mountain side near Doubtful Sound. Then they drove toward Milford to fix some other stuff, all along passing beautiful sights of snowy mountains and mirror lakes .
Now, it’s Monday and Todd is off again. This time to a small town about 4 hours north or here called Utiku. He is leading a build to monitor landslide activity. Not quite as an exotic location but Todd is sure seeing the country. Me? I am at home snuggling with my Mango to keep warm on these chilly July nights. Weird to hear, huh? Chilly and July in the same sentence? At least, I can notice the days getting longer here. I bet you all are too caught up in summer fun of beaches, kayaking, boating, sun bathing, etc. to notice your days getting any shorter. I am already thinking of our summer days ahead. Who’s coming to visit?