As one of five gateway cities to Antarctica in the world, Christchurch has developed strong links with the vast continent that go well beyond the stepping-off point for expeditions, spanning business, research, tourism and art.

The United States, Italy and Korea have support offices for their national Antarctic programmes based in Christchurch where hundreds of world-class scientists, explorers, artists and the likes prepare for their work in Antarctica. The Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) secretariat also has its headquarters in Christchurch and the University of Canterbury hosts the Antarctic Environments Portal, a New Zealand-led platform which reduces the gap between science and policy.

 

Christchurch City Links

Throughout Christchurch historic links with Antarctica and tributes to early explorers are evident. Central city walking trails provides on an enlightening journey that covers three centuries of exploration.

A statue of Robert Falcon Scott in the heart of the city commemorates the great explorer who left the Christchurch port of Lyttelton to sail to Antarctica on his second mission in 1910 and never returned. It was sculpted by Scott’s widow, Lady Kathleen Scott. It was to be made in bronze, but when work started in 1915 World War I was underway and all available metal was being used for armaments. It serves as a memorial to those who died with Scott on his return journey from the South Pole in 1912, and bears his last message: ‘I do not regret this journey, which shows that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past’. There is information on the statue and an update on its post-earthquake status on the Christchurch City Council website.

Canterbury Museum’s Sir Robertson Stewart Hall of Antarctic Discovery, celebrates over a century of Antarctic exploration and features an internationally significant collection of items many from Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Hillary, including unique Antarctic photographs and archives.

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Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu exhibits works from the Artists who have participated in Antarctica New Zealand’s Community Engagement Programme, which showcases the output from media, writers, educators and artists who have visited Scott Base. The Christchurch Central City Library and the University of Canterbury Library both have extensive collections of Antarctic material that further depict the city’s connection with Antarctica.

Gateway Antarctica is the centre for Antarctic studies and research at the University of Canterbury, which plays a leading role in a range of national and international Antarctic research projects. Areas include engineering in extreme environments, Antarctica as driver of (and responder to) climate change, connections between Antarctica and New Zealand, and human influences in and on Antarctica.

Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch, features a restored DC3 plane used for US Antarctic supply missions in the 1960s, and the city’s Air Force Museum has a collection of historic aircraft including original Beaver and Auster aircraft used in early Antarctic aviation.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens has a Magnetic Observatory established to assist in locating the South Magnetic Pole, and is one of only three in the southern hemisphere. The observatory was used by early Antarctic explorers and operated until 1969.

The Contribution of Antarctic related Activities to the Canterbury and New Zealand Economy Report can be found here. The report estimates Antarctic-related activities bring $125 million to the Canterbury economy and $178 million to the New Zealand economy.