The International Antarctic Centre is located opposite Christchurch airport and is designed to give “visitors of all ages with an interactive, fun and exciting experience on Antarctica”.
There are lots of displays showing what it’s like to live in Antarctica, from both animal and human perspectives. My favourite section was watching a 17 minute video Beyond the Frozen Sunset which showed the view from a small plane. The scenery is so beautful and because they strapped a camera to the underside of a helicopter they were able to capture the beauty. It really made us feel like we were there which is what they wanted us to feel.
The most challenging thing we did was go into the Snow and Ice Experience where we felt our first snow storm. We donned the heavy jackets and not-so-trendy boots before stepping into the room. Although my Dad didn’t want to join Mum and I because he grew up in northern England so has more than enough experience of snow storms. The temperature in the room is normally -5 celsius but every hour they simulate an ice storm where the temperature drops to -18 celsius. They also provide a commentary from the operations room to show what they say during the storm. They described the conditions as they worsened, then we saw a lightning and heard thunder then communication all but stopped due to the high winds (40 kms per hour) that were blowing around us. We couldn’t hear a thing. I don’t like cold weather but was happy to try it out for the 5 minute duration. It did nothing to endear me to cold weather though. I’d love to fly over Antarctica one day but it would never be warm enough for me to spend time on the continent.
We also saw some fairy penguins playing (and sleeping) in what was designed to be their natural environment. Penguins are so cute.
You could easily spend almost a whole day here. There is so much to do including a Hagglund Ride and a 4D movie. If you are looking for something to do in Christchurch, it’s a great day out. There’s also a cafe and souvenir shop.