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Christchurch's Antarctic Heritage

The Antarctic explorers of the early twentieth century were global superstars.  Christchurch presented the perfect basecamp for the expeditions that would take them to glory or demise.

From the first fragile sailing ships that ventured into the icy unknown, to the massive supply aircraft of today, Christchurch is proud of its long history connecting it to Antarctica.

Antarctic Scott On Discovery

Our Connection with the Past, Our Role in the Future

Ōtautahi Christchurch has a long history of involvement with Antarctica - from its contribution during the heroic age of exploration to its role today as one of only five international gateways to the icy continent.
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Era of Heroes

Antarctic Terra Nova Ship

Selfless and Courageous: Captain Robert Falcon Scott

Captain Robert Falcon Scott arrived in Lyttelton in 1910 on his way to make history. The explorer was bound for Antarctica on the Terra Nova. He wanted to be the first person to stand at the South Pole.
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File AK.2005.106.14 This is a studio portrait of Frank in his dress uniform sometime after the First World War (the ribbons on his bar indicate he's received his war decorations), probably the early 1920s. It's inscribed on the verso: 'Comdr F. A. Worsley DSO, OBE, RD., R.N.R., F.R.G.S. 81 Walm Lane, Cricklewood, London NW2.' Photographer unknown, c.1920.

Local Hero: Frank Worsley

Growing up in 1880s Akaroa wasn’t an easy life but it was full of adventure. And for Frank Worsley, it turned out to be good preparation for one of the most harrowing voyages ever recorded.
Ernest Shackleton Hut

Knighted Explorer: Sir Ernest Shackleton

Shackleton spent time in Lyttelton and Christchurch on five separate occasions between 1901 and 1917. His first expedition was as 3rd Officer on Scott's Discovery expedition, but he was invalided out.
Antarctic Pressure Ridges Landscape

First to the Pole: Roald Amundsen

The Norwegian explorer and his party were the first to reach the South Pole in December 1911. In December 1912, Amundsen gave a public lecture in Christchurch stating "We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our knowledge of the lands of ice in the South."
New Zealand Flag

A Grim Souvenir: Dr Edward Wilson

After Dr Edward Wilson froze to death in Antarctica, his possessions were given to his widow, Oriana. Among them she found a small silk New Zealand flag that her husband had on his person when he died.
Christchurch Robert Falcon Scott Statue

There is not, I believe, any country in the world so fully in sympathy with the objects of the expedition as New Zealand.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott
Antarctic Gateway City Trail Audio Tour

Listen Up Ōtautahi

Learn about Ōtautahi's role as an Antarctic gateway city on our audio tour.

Hear from scientists and artists, historians and curators and get a taste for the magic, adventure and importance of this otherworldly continent.

The tour takes about 90 minutes covering 1.2km with 18 stops. If you're with young ones be sure to look out for the Antarctic creatures hidden along the route.

Access the experience via your browser.

Modern Explorers

Protecting the Antarctic: Michelle Rogan Finnemore

Across most the globe, the map of the world is full of men’s names - with the exception of a few queens and wives. Antarctica is the exception. Here, women leaders and scientists have been memorialised in cartography.

Breaking New Ground: Margaret Bradshaw

Geologist Margaret Bradshaw’s career as an Antarctic researcher started with a simple request that she “go down and get some rocks” for the Canterbury Museum’s new Antarctic Hall.