John Kerry flies through Christchurch
US Secretary of State John Kerry briefly passed through Christchurch on Saturday after a visit to Antarctica.
He is the highest-ranked US diplomat to visit the ice, and his trip included a tour of the New Zealand-run Scott Base, as well as a helicopter trip to witness the effects of climate change.
"Let me just say what an extraordinary experience it was and how impressed I am by the remarkable commitment of so many scientists and so many involved people to learn more to be able to help guide important policy decisions," Kerry said.
The "majesty and awe of the place" was a highlight and Kerry considered the climate research being done by international teams to be crucial.
"Most important I think is the really vital science being done with respect to critical knowledge we need about the West Antarctic ice sheet, and what the melt rate is and what the potential impact might be.
"For those of us deeply concerned and involved in climate change this was a very helpful, very constructive visit."
Despite the current frosty relationship between the US and Russia, Kerry commended their Antarctic ally on their work to protect the Ross Sea.
"I was really delighted to work with Russia, and very grateful for Russia's cooperation, in helping to finally set aside the Ross Sea as a marine protected area.
"We can all be very very proud of that."
The secretary will meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Prime Minister John Key in Wellington on Sunday before flying out to Oman on Sunday evening.
According to the US State Department, Kerry has visited 90 countries and racked up over 2 million kilometres of travel and 118 days of flight time since becoming State Secretary on 1 February 1, 2013.