International Antartic Centre is one of the major tourist attractions in Christchurch that will give you the experience of the wonder and magic of Antartica.
Visit the coldest fun in Christchurch, the International Antartic Centre
1. History of International Antarctic Centre
The International Antarctic Centre was built in purpose to show people why the Christchurch International Airport is so important for scientific programs in Antarctic and that the airport is a gateway to the cold continent. The team then pointed Tim Hobson to create a visitor attraction. Tim Hobson is an Australian who currently living in New Zealand and had spent a lot of time in Antarctica. While the building was designed by Warren Mahoney. The idea to build the attraction itself has been spoken in 1990, while the attraction opened in 1992. The location was chosen not just close to the airport itself, but also on a site with other Antarctic programmes that were already operating during that time. Until now, the site has won lots of awards for being a successful tourist attractions in Christchurch and Canterbury.
2. Feel the Antarctica in New Zealand
Antarctica is known as a cold place and considered as extremes for many. Virtually uninhabited, the continent is the coldest, driest and windiest place on earth. However, the place is still filled with magic and landscape that makes a lot of people curious. Now, you can feel the Antarctica without leaving the city just by going to the International Antarctic Centre. Here, you can learn and feel the 4 seasons in Antarctica by hearing the experience and stories by the explorers, Scott and Shackleton, and through the 6 minutes of stunning light and sound show. There are also the 3D high definition movie that is the first sequence filmed in Antarctica and 4D shows with special effects of seat movement, water spray, air bursts, and bubbles.
3. Learn the modern Antarctica
In this site, you will find the Antarctic Gallery, a place to learn about the modern day Antarctica, including treaty partners, conservation, wild life and sea life, the life at Scott Base, and the experience of flying to the continent. You will see the Polar tents used in the field and how they eat. You also get the chance to try the Extreme Cold Weather clothing to feel how the ice experience and how the scientists survive in the amazing yet dangerous cold continent. To make it all more complete, join the screening of the HD Theatre filmed by Emmy Award winning film-maker Mike Single, titled Beyond the Frozen Sunset that will show you the stunning view of the Aurora Australis and the vastness of polar plateau.
4. Meet the furry friends
If you are a dog lover, then you will love this place even more as this place has the Husky Cuddle Zone that will take you up close and personal with these cute four-legged animals. Huskies are considered as important animals in the continent as they were the main transport in Antarctica until the 1990s, where a team of Huskies will be pulling the sleds for the explorers. However, be noted that the Huskies will not be at the International Antarctic Centre for the whole day. To see the schedule of their visiting hours, please see the official website.
5. Join the Penguin Encounter
One of the highlights in the International Antarctic Centre is the Penguin Encounter that features the Little Blue Penguins in an area that allows visitors to see them in a Banks Peninsula natural-themed environment that can be accessed on two levels. This place also held a Penguin feeding times exhibitions for visitors who want to see them closer. However, to get the maximum experience with the penguins, then you can join the Penguin Backstage Tour that is limited to just 8 visitors per tour. Unfortunately, to keep both the penguins and the visitors safe, the site do not let the visitors hold the penguins.
6. Ride the Hagglund
Hagglund Ride is an attraction for those who crave for an adrenaline and fun filled ride on the Hagglund, the all terrain amphibious Antarctica vehicle. The ride will give you the taste of the scientists that went through the ice, hills, crevasses, and even through the water. The ride will take about 20 minutes and children under 3 are not permitted to ride this attraction, while children under 8 must be accompanied by adults.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets can be bought online through this website. The general admission already includes full entry to the attractions inside the International Antarctic Centre. Children under 5 are free. It is recommended to buy the tickets before you are visiting to skip the line, especially if you are coming in a large group. There is also the annual pass that will give you special discounts.
How To Get Around?
To get around inside, you will have to walk. If you are bringing any luggage, you can keep them in the locker that is available on site.
What Should I Wear?
There is no recommended dresscode for visiting International Antarctic Centre. You can bring your jacket, but you can also borrow them if you are visiting The Snow and Ice Experience. The facility provides jackets and overshoes for the visitors with range of sizes, from S to 3X, and also for the kids as well. For your information, most part of the attraction is in 22 degrees.
Best Time to Visit
You can visit the International Antarctic Centre all year around. Spare at least 2 hours to enjoy all of the attractions. If you want to see the penguin feeding sessions, they are held at 10.30 AM and 3.30 PM daily.
New Zealand Dollar
Will I Need a Guide?
You can book an audio-guided tour that is available for hire. The audio-guided tour is also available in some languages, including English, Chinese, and Spanish. You can also walk inside the attractions without any guide.
How To Get There?
You can drive to the attraction site, or you can use the Penguin Express Shuttle that is a free shuttle to transport visitors between the city and the attraction. You can also use this shuttle to go back to the city after you are visiting the site. For the timetable of the shuttle, please refer to the official website of the International Antarctic Centre.