The Snow Storm room at the International Antarctic Centre is a well sealed safe environment with real snow. The temperature is set at -4C but at pre-determined times during the day a 'storm' occurs with thunder and lightning and 40kph winds, dropping the temperature to -18C.
Visitors are provided with a warm jacket and overshoes.
A great experience for anyone who has never seen snow - even for those of us who have!
One of the most popular attractions at the International Antarctic Centre is the Penquin Encounter. The penguins get fed twice a day and visitors can watch the birds diving for their food from the viewing area of the penguin pool as well as listening to an informative talk by the handler as other penguins are hand fed on the shore of the pool.
The penguins at the centre have all been rescued after injuries that make it impossible for them to be returned to the wild. Some are blind while others have part or all of a foot or flipper missing. Their breeding grounds are at risk from disturbance by humans, dogs, cats and ferrets/weasles and no longer breed near towns and cities (except Oamaru and Wellington).
The centre runs a sponsorship program to help fund rescue activities and projects.
The International Antarctic Centre is located adjacent to the Christchurch Airport complex and is the base for the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic Programs. The centre consists of general administration and storage, a US/NZ clothing outlet, a post office and travel agency and the Antarctic Passenger Terminal. Also in the complex is the Visitor Centre; called 'The Antarctic Attraction'.
The Antarctic Attraction is an extremely popular tourist destination offering a Blue Penquin rescue habitat, an Antarctic snow storm room, a Hagglund Ride and a variety of audiovisual and interactive displays (including a 4D movie). There is a cafe and bar and of course the tourist shop.
The International Antarctic Centre has won a number of tourism awards.
While mainly set up for children the centre is great for adults too. My mother and I spent the whole day there. Prices depend on what you want to include in your visit but are not unreasonable.
A very realistic glimpse of life in the Antarctic region can be experienced at the very popular Antarctic Centre which is touted as the gateway to Antarctica.
The museum cum amusement park of sorts has an indoor attraction which offers exhibits of life in the frozen region - including the vehicles, equipment, tools, etc used to survive in the super-icy cold part of the world!
Aside from the informative exhibits and snow and ice experience, visitors can also ride the hagglund, like our family did! It was a superb and exciting endeavour not to be missed and highly recommended! I have a separate post for this activity.
It also has a good cafe after a satisfying visit to this attraction.
If you have the opportunity to look at a globe, you will probably have a good idea why the International Antarctic Centre is based in Christchurch, NZ. Although geographically, a couple cities south of ChCh could be considered "closer", this is probably the right size town for this location.
As you can imagine, with all of the different countries, and the logistically nightmares that is Antarctica, it is nice to have a location back at civilization where you can organize expeditions out to the ice. Christchurch is the home base for most countries Antarctic expeditions, and therefore it is nice to have a local museum to showcase such information.
Inside, you can learn the history of the explorers, learn about the flora and fauna, and also get to experience a blizzard, inside the snowstorm creation. We enjoyed suiting up in cold weather gear, and facing the blowing cold and snow.
This is definitely worth a look when you are in Christchurch!
New Zealand is the southernmost country to the Antarctic, the world's White Continent. It is unknown and mysterious, yet many countries including NZ have research bases in the ice and
The Antarctic Centre is close to Christchurch Airport and from there small jets start off to the
unknown Antarctic. Experience a tour which takes you about 2 hours with many video shows,
equipment and pictures of the Antarctic, scientific documentation and the highlight: a - 20C
Antarctic snow storm !! You should definitely crawl into the tent and iglu to be able to breathe before the storm starts...
An experience you will never forget and which takes you as close to the Antarctic as it can - unless you really venture there!
Enter a cold room where you can experience what it is like at the Antarctic. The temperature in this room starts from a pretty "warm" temperature of minus 5°C. Turn on the wind-chill machine and all hell breaks loose. The temperature suddenly dips to minus 18°C. That's crazy, but do try it.
Before heading to the domestic airport to catch a flight to Auckland, Jac and I stopped by the International Antartic Centre. It was pretty out of the way but at least the place gave us an idea of how Antarctic is like. We drove to the centre, but you can also walk to the centre by following the floor stickers of penguins feet.
We paid NZ30 per person to enter the Antarctic Centre.
As the Antarctic is out of reach for most people the Antarctic Centre just around the corner from Christchurch Airport is a perfect place to experience the chilly continent around the South Pole.
The latest attraction (since September 2006) are the 18 cute Little Blue Penguins (the number can vary) that swim and waddle around at the Penguin Encounter. They are in a 600sqm enclosure with the centrepiece of a 70,000 litre pool.
You can learn many things about the history, the explorers, seasons, life and animals of the Antarctic. You can even inspect the replica of the Antarctica field camp.
Warm clothes are provided for the polar room that contains real snow and ice. In a minus 5°C cold room kids can slide down an icy slope or crawl into an ice-cave, and everybody has to brave the wind of minus 18°C provided by a wind-chill machine. This feels like a real Antarctic storm, the wind blowing at 40km/h, including quite some noise. This storm blows every 30 minutes and stops after some minutes. A little but pleasing difference to a real storm down south... ;-)
In the open air area of the Ant. Centre you can take a ride on the Hägglund which is a tracked vehicle used in Antarctica by most programmes based there. It takes its passengers on an exhilarating ride over mounds, up and over a steep hill, across a crevasse and open ground. The most exciting feature is when it goes idling through a pool of water to demonstrate the vehicle's amphibious capabilities. As it is a very noisy and rough ride all information is given via headphones and you have to buckle up.
The only thing not so nice about the Antarctic Centre are the entry fees, if not to say they are crazy. Adults pay NZ$30 which includes the penguins, plus addiotional $18 for the Hägglund ride and $20 for a Penguin Backstage Pass. Children from 5y to 15y: 20+16+12. Family Pass: 80+55+n/a. The snowphone audio guide hires comes to an extra $6. Incredible!
I was expecting great things for the "best tourist attraction in NZ" but I have to say I was dissapointed. It is a good museum of Antarctic history, The snow storm room was kind of cool (no pun intended), but not even close to being as cold as Antarctica. The best bit is the live penguin exhibit - the blue penguins are really cute. I dont think you would see much more if you got the back stage pass. For what you get it is quite expensive - if it werent for the penguins I would not have bothered. If you are on a tight budget I would give it a miss. There is an Antarctic exhibit at the Christchurch museum- for free.
Adult + Haggland ride $48
Backstage penguin pass $20
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