Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre pin

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!

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre snow

Four Seasons

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.

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre flag

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.

Penguin Encounter

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.

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre penguin

Antarctic Gallery

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.

Hagglund Ride

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.

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre barrel

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.

Family Fun at the International Antarctic Centre exhibit


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.

International Antarctic Centre outside

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids


Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids BRIDGE
We got a chance to visit Wai-O-Tapu Park on our cruise around Australia and New Zealand on board the Sapphire Princess.
The New Zealand thermal park with the Maori name meaning “Sacred Water,” is 27 km from the city of Rotorua and is in New Zealand’s volcanic zone centrally located on the North Island.
The park is known for tourism as well as education, so there are booklets, pamphlets and maps are available in a few languages.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids FIRE

This geographical marvel of a park is famous for its colorful volcanic activity and even has the Lady Knox Geyser that draws crowds every morning. There are champagne colored water and bubbling mud pools that you reach mostly by foot over bridges and platforms.With thousands of years in the making, the place is truly a thermal wonderland and a global sensation.

The park’s unique features are its diverse natural landscapes, the geyser as mentioned earlier that erupts daily at 10:15 am, and the vast mud pool that is the site of a mud volcano that was destroyed by erosion almost a century ago. The pools of thick bubbling mud are quite mesmerizing to watch.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids ASH
Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit this park is from spring to fall when the days are longer, and you can extend your stay and make the most of the day.
The park is open every day in spring through fall 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and in winter 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.

The visitor center is where you can purchase the tickets and get information on the different hikes through the park. There are also souvenirs and gifts available at the gift shop, which make lovely keepsakes of this fascinating place and New Zealand.

You don’t need to buy anything in advance though it might get somewhat crowded when the large cruise ships are in town and bring hundreds of visitors in buses.Prices for adults are NZ$32 and for children NZ$11 which covers ages 5 to 15. Children under five get to go in free so a family can get in for NZ$80.Conditions

Wai-O-Tapu Park Conditions

The vast outdoor park has small boarded and mesh-reinforced walkways that are relatively comfortable to traverse by foot, but not very easy to navigate by wheelchair because not all of them are smooth. Also, you should be aware that it’s very slippery after a rainfall because of the muddy environment.
The park has secure lockers for storing belonging, and there are toilet facilities for people a with disabilities as well as picnic areas.
Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids GREEN

Autism Travel Tips

  • There is a self-serve café where one can purchase hot and cold beverages and food.  If your child has specific dietary needs, you will need to take this into account as the facilities do not provide a vast selection of allergy or food sensitivity options on the menu. There are facilities for picnics, so if your child enjoys that, it is an option.
  • The weather can be unpredictable so bring a jacket in case it gets cold all of a sudden.
  • As the park is outdoors and large, travelers need to come with appropriate shoes. Closed, walking shoes are ideal and not flip-flops or sandals.Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids FOREST
  • If your child has tactile sensitivities, you should pack a poncho because in some areas they may experience some sprinkling or misting which settles on the skin and can leave them feeling damp and uncomfortable.
  • If your child is sensitive to smell, be aware that the area has an unyielding sulfur smell because of the volcanic activity. It is advisable to bring a mask to mitigate the strong odors.
  • Some children may find the bright colored waters somewhat scary so make sure you explain ahead of time what they’re going to see. Furthermore, prepare them for the fact that they cannot touch anything since many of the fluids in the lakes are toxic.

Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids BOYS

  • There are no toilet facilities out in the park, only at the Visitor’s Center so make sure to let your child know the importance of this before you embark on the tour.
  • During the summer months, it might be wise to wear insect repellent to make sure you’re not bitten by mosquitos and other biting bugs.
  • There are no shelters from the sun, so there is no resting place with shade. Carry extra drinking water and wear sunscreen and hats to prevent sunburn.


Wai-O-Tapu Park ,New Zealand With Kids YELLOW



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