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.
Just what we wanted: on-time departure, courteous & informed driver, clean bus. Keep up the good work!
Reviewer: Debra Parent
Our bus driver Scotty was the best. He gave such a great commentary of the area and he was passionate and proud of his City. He also gave some of the Maori perspective. It was an excellent tour. Being from Canada, the Antarctic Center was not as thrilling for us as we were used to parkas, cold and trips on the snowmobile similar to their machines.
Reviewer: Philip McCutchen
Due to the recent earthquakes, cruise ships cannot dock in Christchurch. As a result, shore excursions from ships anchored in Akaroa have to take a near 1-1/2 hour trip on a narrow, twisty two-lane road from Akaroa to Christchurch. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the countryside is quite pretty. However, it also means you spend half the day traveling to/from your destinations. The bus itself was fine and our driver shared with us his experiences and stories of the area along the way. Christchurch is still struggling to recover from the earthquakes, and this makes going through town something of a challenge. We could have skipped this portion of the trip and not really missed it. The best part of the trip was the Antarctic Center. Frankly, we felt quite rushed here, the center is very interesting and we could have easily spent several more hours learning about the centers' mission and purpose through the various exhibits.
Reviewer: Louis Suarez
The problem with this tour was not with the tour operator, it was with the ship. The ship did not handled the tending well at all and many passengers were arriving late. The tour operator handled the tour in a professional manner. They were able to take separate trips and make sure all attended this tour. The tour was amazing, the antarctic experience was awesome and we would recommend this tour and the views of Christchurch and all its devastation to view.
Reviewer: Carlene Dunn
Very well organized tour. We enjoyed our guide(s) and learning about the area.