Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, and Antarctic Center
On this excursion you will discover Banks Peninsula and the city of Christchurch, as well as the International Antarctic Center.
You will first depart Akaroa and embark on a scenic drive that provides stunning views of the peninsula, an ancient volcano that now forms the peninsula, and its crater that now forms the harbor. Travel via the Akaroa Highway past Lakes Forsyth and Ellesmere, a natural haven for birds and other wildlife.
Upon arrival to Christchurch and following a stop at the botanical gardens, enjoy a sightseeing tour that showcases the city landmarks: the Bridge of Remembrance, the Canterbury Museum, as well as the Art Gallery and the Art Center. Other sights include the badly earthquake damaged Christchurch Cathedral, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. The city center is currently under construction with both demolition and rebuilding underway. Due to road closures and new areas re-opening, road access can change on a daily basis.
The tour then continues on to the International Antarctic Center. The center recreates the atmosphere of Antarctica with the amazing Snow and Ice Experience, featuring the world's first indoor storm complete with lightning, arctic winds and blizzard audio. Learn about life in the most inhospitable continent on earth. Find out about the explorers who conquered the harsh terrain to reach its center, the South Pole.
You will also have an opportunity to meet the Antarctic wildlife at the Blue Penguin Encounter, before buckling up for an exhilarating Hagglund ride. Traveling over a crevasse and through water, the all-terrain amphibious adventure simulates the traveling conditions scientists experience riding across the Antarctic ice pack.
Reviewer: Jan Bloomfield
While the drive from the port in Akaroa to Christchurch is quite long, our guide/driver Scotty kept us entertained with a steady and entertaining flow of information about the history, topography, earthquake, etc, of the area. Seeing the reconstruction work being done in the city was very impressive, as was hearing about the huge impact it had. We had a different driver for the second part of the tour that included a city tour and visit to the Antarctic Centre. He added some additional info about the city history. The Antarctic Center was interesting, and the highlights were the 4D video & Hagglund ride. There was not really enough time to see all the Center had to offer since we had to wait to enter the display area until about 10 minutes prior to the video and then had to stand in line to make sure we got seats in the theatre. That made the rest of our visit rather rushed. Still, it is worth the visit.
Reviewer: Ryan Phelps
Antarctic Center was a little disappointing. The Haglund ride was lame, and we were packed in the back like sardines. I really enjoyed going into Christchurch and our tour host was very informative.
Reviewer: Susan Abrams
Enjoyed seeing the New Zealand countryside on the ride to Christchurch. It was interesting to see the effects the 2011 earthquake had on the town. The International Antarctic Center was very informative and interesting to see. Don’t miss it.
Reviewer: Robin Stearns
Our tour began with a coach ride across the Banks Peninsula with stops in Christchurch to see highlights and 2016 earthquake devastation. We also visited the Antarctic Center. What a blast! We rode on arctic track vehicles up 45 degree inclines, through water and over logs for bone jarring fun. We also toured the center and got to experience an antarctic storm at 20 below zero (Farenheit). Highly recommend this outing!
Nice overview of Christchurch. Wished it were longer but constraints of ship cruising times didn’t allow it. Loved the Antarctic center. Nice insight into life there