Christchurch, South Island

Antarctic Centre 3

The kororā (or little blue penguin) is New Zealand’s smallest penguin and, in our expert opinion, it’s the cutest.

The International Antarctic Centre provides visitors of all ages with an interactive, fun and exciting experience of Antarctica.

Antarctic Centre – journey through Antarctica without leaving Christchurch!

Antarctic Centre – chill out in REAL snow & ice and brace yourself for the world's first indoor storm!

The Penguin Encounter is New Zealand’s first combined indoor/outdoor Penguin viewing area with capacity to hold up to 26 Little Blue Penguins.

Hagglund Ride - a fun-filled ride on the amazing all terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle.

Hagglund Ride - a fun-filled ride on the amazing all terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle.

Antarctic Centre

Journey through Antarctica without leaving Christchurch

The International Antarctic Centre is one of New Zealand's best tourist attractions providing visitors of all ages with an interactive, fun and exciting experience of Antarctica.  You'll experience snow and ice, a storm, learn about life in modern day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins!  There's also the famously exciting Hagglund ride and an awesome simulated 4D cruise plus heaps more! 

For a full range of the exciting ways you will experience Antarctica during your visit, click the links below.

Hagglund Field Trip - a fun-filled ride on the amazing all terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle.   Sit back, buckle up, hold on and prepare to experience what it's like travelling across rough terrain in this unique and exciting machine!  A highly authentic and exciting experience that simulates the conditions scientists experience riding in a Hagglund across the ice and over mounds, up and down hills, across crevasses and through water!

Storm Dome - chill out in REAL snow & ice and brace yourself for the world's first indoor storm!  Learn of the stories and hut legacies left by the great Antarctic explorers Scott and Shackleton and experience the stunning light and sound show of the four seasons of Antarctica.  This safe, fun-for-all-ages indoor polar room is chilled to -8 degrees Celsius and buffeted by a -18°Celsius wind chill machine. Every hour a chillingly realistic Antarctic storm blows through and you’ll be happy to shelter in an ice cave – and even happier that we’ve provided you with warm jackets and overshoes.

4D Movie Theatre -  ready to be shaken, jolted, sprayed and amazed? Our 4D theatre has all the thrills, spills and chills in an intense, immersive and in-your-face viewing experience.

Penguin Rescue - the nocturnal nature of the Little Blue Penguin means that most people miss out on sharing in the magic of these little birds.......UNTIL NOW!  The Penguin Rescue is New Zealand’s first combined indoor/outdoor Penguin viewing area with capacity to hold up to 26 Little Blue Penguins and allows visitors to view them in a natural-themed environment.  Their number in the wild is in decline and their conservation status is ‘at risk’.  That’s why we only house rescue penguins here. These are birds that have got into trouble in the big wide world or may be suffering from physical disabilities. Expert veterinarians assess each bird and those that don’t have the ability to defend themselves will find themselves amongst feathered friends at penguin sanctuaries like ours.

Antarctic Gallery - experience the sense of wonder up close in our Antarctic Gallery. This is an exhibition space purpose-built to educate and entertain. It conveys the scale of the continent while providing fascinating and awe-inspiring details.

Ace the Base - In partnership with Antarctica New Zealand and Science Alive, we are challenging kids and families to create their very own Scott Base! The Scott Base DUPLO lounge will be up at the International Antarctic Centre for a year, until the 26th of October 2021.
Using DUPLO, you can design your own base camp at the International Antarctic Centre. Take a photo of your creation with our Ace the Base Antarctic backdrop to go in to win monthly prizes.

Behind the Scenes Tours - choose from the VIP Penguin Backstage Pass or the Breakfast with Penguins.  These popular tour programmes give you the chance to see up close all the fascinating work done ‘backstage’ in our penguin habitat and penguin welfare centre.

Birthday Parties

There’s plenty to keep the little party goers entertained at this cool party venue. The base package includes attraction entry where they can play in ‘Antarctica’ the Snow & Ice experience, survive an Antarctic Storm, take the Polar Plunge challenge, say hello to our Little Blues in the NZ Penguin Exhibit, explore the Antarctic Gallery and other exhibits, get ‘snowed’ on in the Four Seasons of Antarctica exhibit, and watch the HD movie “Beyond the Frozen Sunset”.  For extra special fun, add on an exciting Hagglund ride or a 4D show (Ice Voyage 4D and Happy Feet 4D).  Catering is included with vegetarian and gluten free options available and party hats and plates. Bring your own cake, or we can provide a Penguin Birthday cake for you.  The Birthday boy or girl will also receive a free birthday gift from the Antarctic Centre as well as a certificate for a free entry next time they visit.
For more information on the International Antarctic Centres Birthday Parties, click here.

Opening Hours

Antarctic Centre open 9am-5.30pm daily (including Christmas Day)
Cafe open 8am-5pm daily

For full detail including price information click here. 


Antarctic Academy - growing the next generation of explorers

Our education programmes are designed to suit your interests and learning needs. 

We organize: -

  • interactive curriculum-based programmes for Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, ESOL and International student groups
  • fun and highly entertaining programmes for sport teams, community groups and holiday programmes

All our programmes include entry to the International Antarctic Centre and Penguin Encounter. The all-time favourite Hagglund ride and the stimulating 4D show 'Ice Voyage' are optional extras.  For full details on our Education Centre and how we can help you please click here for further information.

Kids School Holiday Programmes with a difference!

Need something to entertain your kids in the school holidays?  Send them to Antarctica! Well.... not literally, but the next best thing!  Enrol them in our school holiday programmes (options from 1-3 days) and we'll entertain them and educate them about all things Antarctic!

 For full details on these exciting school holiday programmes click here. 

Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.