Quick Chill: Express Admission to the International Antarctic Center
Christchurch, New Zealand
- Polar room: Suit up in provided jackets and overshoes for a trip through a raging Antarctic storm. Slide down an ice slope, shelter in an ice cave, and brave 0-degree wind blasts – even in the middle of summer.
- Penguin Encounter: Witness the antics of Little Blue Penguins as they swim, nest, and play in a state-of-the-art habitat with indoor and outdoor viewing levels. Feedings and keeper talks are a don't-miss treat.
- Antarctic Gallery: Learn about the fascinating wildlife, intrepid explorers, spectacular light displays, and international conservation and research programs at Earth's coldest, driest, windiest place. Try on Extreme Cold Weather gear to see how scientists survive in the field.
- Multimedia experiences: From all-day sun to all-day darkness and back, watch a year of Antarctic seasons pass in just six minutes. And see "Beyond the Frozen Sunset," a giant-screen HD movie that takes you on an unforgettable journey of polar discovery.
About This Christchurch Tour
The next best thing to your own Antarctic expedition can be found on the outskirts of Christchurch. Much of what you'd encounter on a trek to the South Pole is brought to life at the International Antarctic Center – with no risk of frostbite, and no long months away from civilization. Plus penguins.
The Center's resident flock of famously cute but reclusive Little Blue Penguins cavorts above and below the water. These tiny, slate-blue creatures – the world's smallest penguin species – normally spend their days at sea, returning to land in the evening. So being able to commune with them up close in broad daylight is a rare treat.
It's also a stroke of good luck for them – many have been rescued and cared for since they were chicks, found with physical disabilities that would have left their survival at risk.
Instead, they're thriving, with no predators to worry about, loving caretakers, comfy nesting boxes, built-in pool, and two fishy meals a day. Not too shabby.
At the age of about three, they're old enough to mate. No time to waste, either: Their typical life span is less than seven years, though in a human-controlled environment they've been known to live three times that long.
Not always, though. In suburban New Zealand, Little Blues often nest under coastal homes – inciting owners to block off nests and interrupt the breeding cycle to avoid being kept awake by the birds' noisy nocturnal chatter and calls. Not to mention the aroma they give off thanks to a diet heavy on sardines and anchovies.
This troubled coexistence – along with fatal encounters with cars and the predations of dogs, cats, and ferrets, has left many colonies in decline. But not the one you'll see at International Antarctic Center.
Swimming in the lap of luxury, they have nothing to feel blue about.
Life in Antarctica is no picnic. While hauntingly magnificent, it's seriously dangerous – the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth. The surface ice is a mile thick or more, and the average annual temperature in the interior highlands is a bone-chilling 70 below zero. Even the balmy coast stays below freezing most of the time, and can fall to minus 40 in winter – which lasts ridiculously long. About 1,000 hearty (or crazy) scientists and support staff endure months of complete darkness every year.
Please make your way to 38 Orchard Rd, Christchurch Airport to begin your adventure.
Bring small coins for the bathroom. Take a light jacket or rain coat for the weather. The International Antarctic Centre is roughly 54 miles from the port area of Akaroa. The International Antarctic Centre is located in the suburb of Harewood, Christchurch, New Zealand, close to Christchurch International Airport.
The amount of walking is at the traveler's discretion while visiting the attraction but should expect roughly 2 miles of walking. Varying surfaces will be encountered during your tour.
Cultural, Tickets, Walking Tour, Wilderness/Wildlife
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for travelers 2 years of age and older.
All children must be over 2 years of age to ride the Hagglund and all children under 8 years must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.
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