How to Travel to Antarctica for an Afternoon - Kid Friendly Travel Ideas

How to Travel to Antarctica for an Afternoon - Kid Friendly Travel Ideas

Traveling from Los Angeles to New Zealand was a 16 hour travel day. And with 4 kids and a baby that didn't sleep most of the flight, it made for a really, really long day. There was one thing we did as soon as we landed that immediately perked my kids up! If you travel to Christchurch, your first stop after the airport absolutely has to be The International Antarctic Center.

It brings the excitement and wonder of Antarctica to you (literally a 5 minute walk from the airport). We spent about 4 hours here and enjoyed every minute. My kids are ages 1 1/2, 4, 6, and 8, and there was something there for everyone. Here's just a few of the things you can do at the International Antarctic Center:

  • You can ride in an all-terrain vehicle to see what it feels like to drive over the ice in Antarctica
  • Check out the center's rescued and rehabilitated penguins
  • Feel the bitter chill of an Antarctic storm in their simulated storm dome
  • Get up close with huskies
  • Be immersed in a room of surround video of Antarctica or in their 4D theater
  • Get hands-on with lots of different science exhibits

Check out a fun recap of our full experience here:

Penguin Backstage Experience
The two big kids and I (you have to be ages 6 and up for this) got to go backstage with one of the Antarctic Guides. The International Antarctic Center is home of many Little Penguins. All of the penguins in the Center are rescued in the wild from injuries and rehabilitated at the Center. 

We went into the area they feed the penguins in, saw where the penguins have their little nests, and where they do health check-ups with their penguins. It was so special to go behind the scenes and see how they care for the penguins and get up close with them. The Little Penguins that they have here are so darling and tiny!

In the vet clinic area, they taught my kids so much about penguin anatomy and fun facts about them. The kids also got to see one of their penguins up close here. They watched it get fed and swallow a fish whole, which they were mind blown about. Our Guide was so sweet with the kids and answered all their questions. I highly recommend doing this if you have kids over 6!

Feel the Chill of an Antarctic Storm
This was one of the coolest (no pun intended) things we did. They provide you jackets to keep you warm while you're in the dome. We met up with Jordan and the little kids and joined them in here after our VIP experience.

The room is covered in ice and feels pretty cold when you walk in. There's an igloo and snowmobiles for the kids to check out. You can also see a giant thermometer in the corner so you know how cold it is.

Suddenly the room started getting darker and the wind started blowing stronger. It was subtle at first but soon it turned into a full blown storm with howling wind. 2 of the 4 kids bailed on the storm room about halfway through! It was so cold, it felt like my face was frozen in place. It was a really fun experience and something so unique to do here.

Climb aboard a Hägglund and drive over Antarctic ice
These all-terrain vehicles were an absolutely wild ride. They take you out behind the Center to show you what it feels like to drive over crevasses, deep snow, steep ice cliffs, and through water if you were in Antarctica. My kids loved this and loved bouncing around in the vehicle and the thrill in their stomach at the sudden drops. Don't miss doing this!

Getting here and booking tickets
A major perk about the International Antarctic Center is that they make it affordable for families. Kids 4 and under are free, and they even have family pricing bundles. I highly recommend looking into the VIP Penguin Backstage Pass that the big kids and I did! If you're coming straight from the airport, they have an area to store your luggage while you're there. The walk from the airport is easy and only takes 5 minutes. It really is the best experience to help get your kids active and moving (which is especially important in a new time zone).

My family loved the International Antarctic Center. If you go, be sure to tag me so I can see! It's a must-do on your family trip to New Zealand.



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