New Zealand is famed for its fine summers and chilly winters, but in winter it can get a little beyond just ‘chilly’. However, the real frozen zones are south of New Zealand, to the Antarctica. Long seen as one of the most amazing parts of the world, where animals not seen in most locations of the world enjoy freedom and live in abundance.
However, not everybody is quite so keen to go on a scientific expedition to research penguins or the ice caps, are they? This is where the beauty of the Antarctic Centre comes in. known to be one of the most visited tourist attractions in New Zealand, it goes a little beyond that. Home to many of the Antarctic missions undertaken by foreign countries, it is about as close as you can get to the Antarctic without actually going in there.
The visitors center is a true wonder to behold – the Antarctic itself is extremely difficult to navigate and roads are constantly having to be formed by scientists as they go, and seeing just how vast the area is coupled with how little roads there actually are, it makes you see just how hard at work these scientists are.
You can visit Captain Scott’s diary, who was the famous South Pole explorer who first left notes about his findings here. You are taken into a massive complex which depicts his findings and gives you a pretty excellent mockup of what you can expect out there on the Antarctic, if you were to ever go deep enough. This is a real tourist trap – being able to stand in a pretty outstanding replica of the Antarctic is as close as you will get to going out into the real thing.
However, the real highlight is the Antarctic Storm, which gives you a real taster of the biting temperatures out there. You move into a huge glass paneled room with shelter to give you cover from the “brrrr” inducing -5 degrees temperatures within.
You are given full snow attire to try and keep you as warm as possible, but with the authentic wind generators keeping it as cold as it actually is out there, it can go as low as a frightening a -18.7 degrees! This may not quite be the -48 degrees that some Russian scientists endure in Vostok, but it’s still freezing!
The Christchurch Antarctic Centre provides a real opportunity to see what it is like out there for the scientists and what they have to endure and go through, as well as giving you further explanations and facts about how one of the most interesting parts of the world is being explored and researched every single day.