Discover how the U.S. government and New Zealand have together explored Antarctica since the 1950s and then learn of the Kiwis' aviation history at an Air Force Museum.
It's a scenic drive of just over 90-minutes to Christchurch, known as the "Garden City" because of its emerald-green parks and public gardens. Behind the city's stunning beauty lies a rich, once concealed history of Antarctic exploration and military involvement. Antarctic explorers began sailing from this area in the early 1900s, and since the 1950s Christchurch has been the main staging center for Operation Deep Freeze, the U.S government's Antarctic project. It's all explained in revealing detail at the International Antarctic Center, a one-of-a-kind museum packed with fascinating exhibits, audio-visual shows and even rescued baby penguins. During your self-guided visit, you'll gain a deep insight into the challenges of exploring the frozen frontier at the bottom of the earth and have the opportunity to participate in some interactive activities, such as building a snowman, making a snowball or exploring a snow cave (the Hagglund ride is not included in the cost of the tour). Lunch is on your own at the venue.
Rejoining your coach, you will next make your way to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, where the country's aviation history has been meticulously preserved in diverse collections. Inside, you'll find dozens of historic aircraft such as the world's only Vickers Vildebeest biplane, aviation barracks dating back to World War I, rare military uniforms and medals, and even unusual escape aids. You'll also discover how these artifacts are being preserved for future generations. Not just for aviation buffs, the museum is a memorial to all those who have served in the New Zealand and Allied flying services. Following your visit, you'll be transferred back to the pier and your awaiting ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 3-hours of moderate walking/standing over mostly flat surfaces. Other interactive activities are at the guests' discretion. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Casual clothing which should include a light jacket and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The tour may operate in reverse order.