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Antarctic Season Opening
Enjoy a great range of events to celebrate the Antarctic Season Opening.
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Antarctic Season Opening 2019

Spring signifies the Antarctic Season Opening complete with a wealth of events celebrating Christchurch as one of five Antarctic Gateways in the world. 

This year, Cathedral Square will host Explore Antarctica – a free family fun day to welcome the international programmes and showcase the city’s wealth of Antarctic connections.

Antarctic Season Opening Events:

Antarctic Adventure

Professor Lloyd Peck, British Antarctic Survey

Life in Antarctica: A Study In Extremes

Lloyd’s talk will briefly describe Antarctic environments and why they are extreme, from temperature to solar radiation, seasonality and ice. Then the challenges to people working there will be addressed alongside the ways in which people now deal with those problems making it possible to work on the continent at the end of the Earth to open the door on its role in the Earth system.

Specifically, the effects of low temperatures, wind and snow are covered on land and the problems with ice and seasonality in the sea.  Having reviewed how people cope, the talk will then discuss how the warm blooded animals that live around the continent, such as Crabeater seals, or visit Antarctica, such as the great whales are adapted to cope. Finally, some of the most bizarre animals on Earth live in the seas around Antarctica, including the world’s largest sea spiders and fish that must have antifreeze or die, and these will be introduced to the audience with explanations of why they are there.

  • Location: Tūranga, Cathedral Square
  • Date: Wednesday, 2 October 2019
  • Time: 9am - 1pm

Antarctic Sun Lines by Adele Jackson

Antarctic Sun Lines is an international collaborative art project led by Christchurch-based artist, Adele Jackson. In this work, Adele uses solargraphy to locate Antarctica in relation to the sun and the natural forces that create and sustain life on Earth. The sun and the tilted rotation of the Earth are active in creating the long exposure images that record the narrow window of time when human and biospheric activity in Antarctica are at their peak. The illuminated artwork is powered using solar technology used in deep field Antarctic science events.

In 2018, with support from Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), solargraph cameras were installed at research stations across the Antarctic continent. As a pan-Antarctic international art project, Antarctic Sun Lines contributes to the cultural heritage of Antarctica, and reflects the Antarctic Treaty spirit of collaboration.

To celebrate Antarctic season opening, Christchurch Art Gallery / Te Puna o Waitwhetū are presenting the first in the series of Antarctic Sun Lines artworks. The complete exhibition will be presented in Hobart, Tasmania, August 2020, to complement the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and COMNAP conference.

The artist gratefully acknowledges that this project is made possible through the generous support of many organisation and individuals.

Financial and technical assistance has been provided by COMNAP, University of Canterbury, Gateway Antarctica, CuratorSpace and the Trans-Antarctic Association.

Event details:

  • Location: Christchurch Art Gallery Foyer & Atrium
  • Date: Wednesday, 2 October – Sunday, 6 October
  • Time: 10am – 5pm

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‘South to Antarctica 2019-2020’ Service

The traditional ‘South to Antarctica 2019-2020’ service will take place at the Transitional Cathedral - this is when the Erebus Chalice is presented to the US Air Force to take to the Chapel of the Snows at McMurdo for the summer season.


Breaking the Ice’ Exhibition

Breaking the Ice: The First Year in Antarctica is your only chance to see rare objects from Antarctica’s first buildings before they return the ice.

The exhibition, created in partnership with Antarctic Heritage Trust, tells the story of Carsten Borchgrevink’s Southern Cross expedition through objects the explorers left behind in the two huts they built at Cape Adare. The objects include scientific equipment, clothing and sledging supplies.

Breaking the Ice also showcases a century-old fruitcake and a forgotten watercolour painting that were left in the huts by the Northern Party of Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition.

Event details: 

  • Location: Canterbury Museum
  • Date: On Now – Sunday, 13 October
  • Time: 9am – 5pm

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The Gateway Antarctic Photo Exhibition

Staff and students of Gateway Antarctica and colleagues from across the University of Canterbury have put together this exhibition displaying the exceptional working space, Antarctica, from a personal perspective.

Some of the photos tell stories; some invite to reflect the beauty of the environment, and some just want to send the message of how precious this place is.

Come along, have a look, and participate in the viewer’s choice!

Event details:

  • Location: Undercroft Puaka, James Hight, University of Canterbury, 90 Ilam Road 
  • Date: Friday, 4 October– Monday, 21 October

‘Arctic Voices’ Exhibition

The new special exhibition Arctic Voices takes you on a journey to this frozen Northern region.

Arctic Voices uses interactive experiences, photos, videos and real specimens to convey that the Arctic is more than just snow – it is land, water, and ice. It is home to people and a surprising diversity of wildlife. It is a place of rapid change being studied and monitored by scientists. Find out what affects the Arctic and in turn, how the Arctic has an impact on the whole planet.

Pounce, hop, push and crawl like an Arctic animal as you explore one of the planet's harshest environments. Come face to face with a polar bear. Travel with scientists as they catch and tag Arctic whales, and then go on a garden tour to see how plants have adapted to survive and thrive in this harsh environment. Listen to stories from the people who inhabit this region, as they share their knowledge about the land and their unique culture. You can even try throat singing, a traditional art with modern applications.

Event details:

  • Location: Canterbury Museum
  • Date: On Now – Sunday, 3 November
  • Time: 9am – 5pm

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The Christchurch City Antarctic Walk

The walk is part of The Breeze Walking Festival, which starts outside Canterbury Museum and runs for approx. one and a half hours including a visit to the Antarctic Gallery in the Museum.

From there, the walk will explore an easy 3.5 km track through the Botanical Gardens and central city streets. The walk concludes at the museum.

The tour is led by Peter McCarthy - the grandson of Mortimer McCarthy, a seaman on Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition, and great nephew of Timothy McCarthy, who was on Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition.

  • Location: Starts at Canterbury Museum
  • Date: Saturday, 5 October
  • Time: 2pm - 4pm

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Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica by Rebecca Priestley

Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica offers a deeply personal tour of a place in which a person can feel like an outsider in more ways than one. With generosity and candour, Priestley reflects on what Antarctica can tell us about Earth’s future and asks: do people even belong in this fragile, otherworldly place?

  • Location: Scorpio Books, BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street
  • Date: Saturday, 5 October
  • Time: 4.30pm – 5pm
  • RSVP: tamsin@scorpiobooks.co.nz

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New Zealand Antarctic Society (NZAS) Wreath Laying Ceremony

A tradition that started in the 1930s when Admiral Richard Byrd laid a wreath at the Scott Statue. Join NZAS Canterbury Branch & Antarctica NZ to share in paying tribute to Antarcticans who currently serve and those who have gone before.

  • Location: Scott Statue, Oxford Terrace
  • Date: Sunday, 6 October
  • Time: 11.30am – 12pm

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The Lyttelton Antarctic Heritage Walk

This Heritage walk begins at Albion Square and covers and easy 3.5km track of Lyttelton streets and some wharf areas. The walk will conclude back at Albion Square. This walk is part of the Breeze Walking Festival.

  • Location: Starts at Albion Square, 44 London Street, Lyttelton
  • Date: Saturday, 12 October
  • Time: 1pm – 2.30pm

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