The Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand is a fun and interesting place to visit with children or without. We have 4 young children that we homeschool and we found the centre a fabulous educational experience. Our visit was a treat for our daughter’s 5th birthday so we invited my parents along to join in the fun day out.
There are a variety of exhibits for all ages:
- 4D cinema
- Hagglund Ride
- Snow & Ice Experience
- Antarctic Storm simulation
- Penguin feeding & encounter
- Variety of static and interactive exhibits
- Movie Theatre – Beyond the Frozen Sunset
- 4 Seasons of Antarctica
YES – we did it all in one visit – we went early on a Sunday!
Antarctic Storm Experience
The first experience everyone wanted was the Antarctic Storm in the snow and ice room. Protective overshoes and thick padded warm coats were chosen from the coat hooks and we entered the room. It was already -5C before the storm even hit. There is a windchill machine so you can experience -18C, a snowmobile to sit on and an ice cave to shelter in which the kids loved! There is a warning given before the storm hits and advice for areas to shelter. It gradually gets darker and colder, the wind increases as does the noise as the storm approaches and the whole room goes dark and chills to -18C. Great fun – especially for those who live in warmer climates!
Quite a few of the exhibits allow for interaction. Who can resist a photo opportunity on a snowmobile? Or a button to push for a video or commentary to start? Plunge your hand into icy cold water if you dare!
The cinema has two shows. If you want the ‘full’ 4D experience you need to sit in the first couple of rows. Here the chairs move and you get showered with water spray, cold air and bubbles throughout the showings. Whilst wearing your 3D glasses (provided) enjoy the boat trip through Antarctic waters or the delights of Happy Feet (short version). Again, much fun for children and the young at heart.
New Zealand’s first combined indoor/outdoor penguin exhibit. All of the penguins on show at the Centre are rescue penguins who would likely not have survived on their own in the wild. The Little Blue Penguins have scheduled feedings at 10.30am and 3.30pm.
If you would like to learn more about the penguins and how they are cared for you can pay a little extra and get a behind the scenes tour. We were keen to do this as a treat for my daughter’s birthday but children have to be 6 years old and it was only her 5th birthday. Oh well maybe next time.
Absolutely the highlight of the day but not something we all wanted a second turn on was the 10 minute adrenalin and fun-filled ride in the all terrain Hagglund. Children must be over 2 years old and only a few short turns into the trip and we could see why! Seatbelts were compulsory and you are surrounded by padded handles and straps hang from the roof for something else to hold on to (kids were too short so we held on to them – very tightly!). It was a bumpy, jolty ride of impossible angles up and down over hills and across simulated crevasses. Good to know that the vehicle is amphibious as you plunge into a large water filled trench and float! Caution: The ride is not recommended for pregnant women or those with neck and back injuries or heart conditions due to the nature of the motion.
Antarctica is more than 98% covered in ice and is the driest, windiest and coldest place on Earth. In the gallery area you can learn all about life in Antarctica, the explorers past and current. Learn about the wildlife, see what the inside of the transport planes look like and the equipment they use now and did in the past. Discover more about the experiences of those early explorers and how dangerous an environment it is to live and work in.
Beyond the Frozen Sunset is a 17 minute long visual window into Antarctica. View the stunning southern lights – Aurora Australis, the historic huts and the sheer vast emptiness of the landscape, the wildlife and more…
“It captivates, stimulates and enchants the mind and soul on the most beautiful and most important place on earth.”
If video link is missing or doesn’t play try this link for a 50 second preview of Beyond the Frozen Sunset.
When you need a break there is an onsite cafe with a good selection of savoury snacks, cakes and salads (gorgeous gluten free cake). Opening hours 8am to 5pm. For a souvenir of your visit there is the gift shop and the Magic Memory Photos.
The Antarctic Centre is located close to the Airport in Christchurch (approx a 5 minute walk).
The onsite car park has plenty of spaces and is suitable for coaches and campervans.
The FREE Penguin Express Shuttle departs from Christchurch city for the Antarctic Centre from outside the Museum on Rolleston Ave on the hour daily from 9am (Oct-Mar) and 10am (Apr-Sep). Last bus is at 4pm. The shuttle returns to the city from the attraction on the half hour, last bus 4.30pm.
The Centre is open 9am-5.30pm everyday including Christmas Day.
- Adult $59
- Child $29
- Family $149
- Student/Pensioner $45
These prices are for FULL admission which includes unlimited Hagglund Rides and 4D cinema entry. Price is reduced if you buy in advance online. Family includes 2 adults and up to 3 children. Children are aged 5 to 15 years old. Under 5’s are FREE.
Xpress admission (does not include a Hagglund ride or the 4D cinema):
- Adult $39
- Child $19
- Family $99
- Student/Senior (with ID) $30
SPECIAL OFFER for Canterbury residents. Half price tickets – you just need to bring along proof of your residential address (utility bill or rates statement for example). We took advantage of this offer as we have had the pleasure of living in Canterbury for 14 years.
ANNUAL PASS – visit as many times as you like in one year!
Extras for the kids!
- School holiday activities
- Birthday parties
For more information visit http://www.iceberg.co.nz/
OR click any of the images.
*All images were taken by or of my family except the Little Blue Penguin sitting on the pebbles that was on my Magic Memory DVD.