International Antarctic Centre
Amazing place to explore and learn all about the Antarctic, so much to see, do and touch the kids will love it.
I am not going to beat around the bush, visiting the Antarctic Center is expensive – $150 for our family of four at the time we visited.
So we saved this for a special treat and went on Meikas 7th Birthday.
First stop on her birthday, We got their right as they opened to try and bet the crowd. It didn’t work either every one had the same idea as us and where there right on open or its just busy all the time.
The first thing we did was got rugged up and went to check out the storm dome, where the indoor polar room is chilled to -8 degrees Celsius and buffeted by a -18°Celsius wind chill machine.
Its loud and its cold!!! it was awesome!, the kids ran and hid in the igloo as soon as it started up. We watched the big temperature gauge as the temperature dropped and the storm started to swirl feeling the icy snow blast on our faces. We have been in a few snow storms up on the ski fields but this was really neat.
If you have a kid who is sensitive to sound and sensation like our son, I might suggest you bring earmuffs and keep them close to your self or in the igloo so they can get away from the wind if it gets to much.
After the cool Storm Dome we went straight out side to check out the husky’s and wait in line for a haggluand ride.
These beautiful dogs were just so sweet, the kids loved them, giving them lots of pats and cuddles. Their was some on hand to answer all the kids million and one questions about the dogs, from what do they eat to how fast can they run.
Then it was time for the Hagglund ride ! The whole ride took about 15min, they do a loop around the outside track going over obstacles and thorough rivers it is pretty neat. You do get tossed around the back quite a bit so you need to hold on tight !!!
Meika Loved it!!! Marcus not so much, Meika was on cloud nine been tossed about the place going over the bumps and tracks.
This girl could not stop giggling it was fantastic, poor Marcus struggled to cope with the small confined space, the noise and the sensation of the ride but he did amazing to hang in there.
It was definitely a highlight for us and Meika – Marcus would probably take a bit of convincing to go again haha.
After we had recovered from our ride we went inside to check out the rest of the place, we had timed it perfectly and it was feeding time for the penguins.
We headed along to one of the many viewing areas to watch and listen to the talk about these beautiful birds. It was very informative and the kids loved watching the penguins up close, as the talk was on we moved from one viewing platform to another to get different angles of the penguins from the water and from above. The kids loved the wee nesting boxes where you could see the birds up close while they sat in their nest.
We were really impressed at how much information they gave you on the penguins, we were even lucky enough to be standing next to one of the keepers at one stage so the kids asked a few questions which she was more than happy to answer for them. If you have a child who is keen on penguins or even if you are interested they also do behind the scenes passes at an extra cost, you can go and learn more about them up close and personal.
After watching and hearing all about the penguins we headed over to the 4D moving viewing they have as part of the admission.
You get some spunky 3D glasses and sit on these cool chairs that move.
As the wee movie starts you get all your sensors going, the chairs move and shake, the 3D screens pop out at you and you get sprayed by water, the giggles were none stop!! such a cool experience.
After the movie we headed off to explore the rest of the displays, there is so much to see and interact with kids.
There was so much to see, read and explore it was incredibly educational for the kids. The kids could have happily explored all the interactive displays for at least an hour. It was so well set up, the kids moved around excited from one thing to the next, meaning the adults could actually take time to read all the information while the kids were busy. Everything was super informative and well displayed and like every part of the centre we had experienced so far their was some one around more than happy to answer any questions.
All in all considering the cost to get in I do think it is well worth it, you get to experience so many things:
-The penguins – you get to see these guys up pretty close it's well done.
-4D mini movie
-The Antarctic Gallery – heaps to see and interact with.
All of this is included in the price, we spent half day exploring and taking it all in – just short of 4 hours with our kids. I definitely think its worth visiting at least once, if you have a child with sensory issues just be aware that things like the Storm Dome, Hagglaund ride and 4D movie might be a bit of a struggle depending on their needs, take earmuffs if you have them.
Their are some other really neat services they offer as well including a free shuttle bus service from Christchurch city, so if you are visiting but have no car you can jump on the free bus and head on out for a visit. They also have a luggage store service which is perfect if you have just come from or are heading to the air port.
We will definitively be back again to explore some more one day.
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"The haggland ride was awesome!! i got bumped about and jiggled all over the place !! i cant wait to go back again" Meika O'Donnell aged 7
What to Bring
Your camera to capture your visit.
Time and Distance
We spent a good 4hrs exploring, I would allow at least half a day to take it all in.
Pram friendly and baby changing rooms available as well.
$150 for a family of four at the time we visited (Sep 2019) check their up to date prices their website listed below.
They do run school holiday programmes and a Antarctic Academy programme as well - check out their website for more information on these.
- Souvenir photos
- Gift shop
- Free shuttle bus service
- Luggage storage