Located on 38 Orchard Rd, a hop away from the Christchurch Airport, the International Antarctic Centre is home to the several Antarctic Programmes. For parents seeking to educate their kids about Antarctica in an entertaining environment, New Zealand’s International Centre is a sound choice. Visitors of all ages will get a taste of what the frozen continent is like; with a ride in a Hagglund, snowstorm and a movie depicting an ice voyage in the venue’s 4D theater!
In this section, guests can check out how all four seasons look in the Antarctic in a simulated experience. Also, visitors also learn about and be inspired by great explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Our kids loved the 24/7 show that takes visitors through the daily light and dark times and simulates snow falls every six minutes!
Snow and Ice Room
The snow and ice room is an indoor polar room with real snow cooled to -5 degrees Celsius! In the room, guests can try the slide, explore the ice cave, brave the hourly Arctic storm or wind the chill machine. For those not ready to face the freezing temperatures; the center does provide jackets and overshoes.
Husky Cuddle Zone
The Antarctic Center partners with the Husky Rescue NZ to bring fluffy huskies on-site. Visitors can play with the beautiful dogs and get selfies just outside the center. For those wishing to see the Huskies in action, there’s a Huskies in the Snow and Ice Experience show available.
Families will not want to miss the penguin section, where up to twenty-six Little Blue Penguins live in an indoor/outdoor facility. The Penguins living there have been rescued and are unable to be released into the wild. Visitors interested in viewing the daily penguin feedings can check the schedule on the center’s website. As we discovered; the best places to see the feedings are the outdoor area or in the pool auditorium downstairs. Guests wishing to spend more time with the black and white birds can book an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the area.
In the Antarctic Gallery, visitors can learn about the wildlife and sea life in Antarctica as well as what life is like for the researchers at Scott Base. Furthermore, guests can experience a variety of interactive activities that showcase all aspects of living in Antarctica including the Extreme Cold Weather clothing that keeps scientists safe.
Guests can ride an all-terrain amphibious vehicle, the Hagglund, and experience a simulation of the conditions in the Antarctic!
The Hagglund rides over ice, crevasses, and even through water. The ride lasts for ten minutes and is included in the General Admissions ticket. Children must be over two years old to ride the Hagglund, and children under eight years old must have an adult present.
Happy Feet 4D
Fans of the movie Happy Feet can watch it again and experience sensory cues matching what is happening on screen. Those who have experienced the Shrek 4D experience in California’s Universal Studios will likely know what to expect. Everything from scents to cold air is present to simulate the actual on-screen locations.
Beyond the Frozen Sunset
The center has a large HD Theater on which they play the film Beyond the Frozen Sunset. Filmed by Emmy Award winner Mike Single, the 17-minute movie Beyond the Frozen Sunset takes viewers on an emotional journey through the Aurora Australis.
The center is open daily from nine am to five-thirty pm. Admission is cheaper if purchased online, and there is a discount for children five to fifteen years.Visitors can also buy the family pack with tickets that include entry to the center, unlimited Hagglund rides, and access to 4D shows. Moreover, families flying out of the nearby airport can take advantage of the free shuttle and coin operated lockers for the luggage.
Autism Travel Tips:
- It is recommended, if possible, to wear closed-toe shoes because of the different terrains and temperatures in the venue.
- Parents should prepare their kid for the different sensations and temperatures. Children who are temperature intolerant or can’t wear a jacket that isn’t their own may not be comfortable.
- Certain areas might be dark, and kids might feel uncomfortable.
- The admission ticket is good for the whole day, so families who need to take breaks can leave and come back.
- Audio guides are available in a variety of languages for an additional fee.
- The website recommends allowing at least two hours to experience all the attractions.
- The center has a gift shop and a café on-site.