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Tuesday, October 2, 2007: It is springtime in New Zealand!

When we crossed the International Date Line we changed the date, and when we crossed the equator we changed the seasons! When it is fall in the Northern hemisphere, it is spring in the Southern hemisphere. Penguins only live in the Southern hemisphere but not usually on the tops of vans.

Do you still have your orange? Then keep reading!


Draw a belt around the middle of your orange for the equator. Now tilt it so the top of the orange is a little away from your face and more of the bottom of the orange is facing you. When the earth is tilted like that, the southern half gets more sun and is in summer and the northern half gets less sun and has winter. Right now we are in transition from summer to winter (our fall in the northern hemisphere) and the southern hemisphere is in transition from winter to summer (their spring in the southern hemisphere). The tilt of the earth is constant (at least in your lifetime!) so as the earth rotates around the sun over the course of a year, the seasons change! They change the most at the north and south poles and the least at the equator. Can you see why?

Our flight from Los Angeles landed in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is on the north island of the two largest islands that make up this country. There we went through immigration and then picked up all of our bags and went through customs. New Zealand is very careful about not letting exotic species into their country. You are not allowed to bring food or even soil on your shoes that might be hiding worm and insect larvae in it. Both Nick and I had to have our shoes inspected and they scrutinized my curry ingredients before I was let into the country.

Exotic species are a real concern in many places. Even Antarctica is not immune from organisms hitching rides and coming to live here. But more on that later…

We flew from Auckland to Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand, and went straight to the CDC – the Clothing Distribution Center – and got our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear.

Near the CDC is the Antarctic Centre where you can take a tour and learn all about Antarctica in a relatively warm setting! That is where the first picture of the penguins on the van came from.

After we were done with all of our responsibilities we walked around Christchurch which is a beautiful city with a river and many parks – all bursting with flowers. But one of my favorite places was the cheese shop. Stacy and I treated ourselves to some cheese slices there and then bought some to take for treats to Antarctica.

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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 ( Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.