Come and celebrate Awesome Antarctica!

Days of Ice banner cropped for website
1 October 2023

Antarctica is coming to Ōtautahi Christchurch, with the ‘Awesome Antarctica’ Days of Ice festival running from 2 to 8 October.

Tūranga library will be the vortex of action during the week-long storm of events and festivities about to hit the Antarctic Gateway city. The programme includes themed activities, speakers, art exhibitions, films and events for tamariki – something for the whole whānau!

This year’s family outing, Explore Antarctica, with loads of activities for kids, will be held on Saturday, 7 October, from 10am to 4pm.

A highlight of the festival is an installation at Tūranga, Aurora Waiata, which has been crafted by artist Jason O’Hara with support from Antarctica New Zealand. This immersive audio/visual journey combines the calls of Weddell seals and the southern lights, Tahu-nui-ā Rangi.

The idea was sparked by scientists’ recordings of the very low frequencies emitted by aurora, and their similarity to the seals’ songs.

"It would be futile to attempt to visually recreate the grandeur of the Aurora. Any recreation would simply pale in comparison to the reality of nature,” Jason says.

“Instead, we have created an interpretation based on a computer visualisation of the actual sound of the aurora as its seed. We then created an imagined conversation in song between the Weddell seals and the aurora."

The festival will wrap up on Sunday, 8 October with the Cathedral Antarctic Service at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral at 10am, followed by Antarctic expeditioners laying wreaths at Scott’s Statue on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street at 11am.

At the church service, the Erebus Chalice begins its journey to Antarctica, where it resides at the Chapel of the Snows at McMurdo Station for the summer, a tradition that has continued for over 35 years.

Christchurch is bustling with personnel from international Antarctic programmes heading south for the summer research season. New Zealand’s summer team has landed at Scott Base, and the New Zealand Defence Force’s Operation Antarctica is underway.