Christchurch and Antarctic Centre

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and the third largest in New Zealand overall with a population of 400,000 people. Anglicans from England settled in the city early in the last century and the city was named after the University of Oxford which was originally known as Christ Church.

In September 2010, Christchurch City and the surrounding Canterbury region were devastated by a large earthquake which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and another large earthquake measuring 6.3 Richter scale also occurred in February 2011. These severe earthquakes and their subsequent, powerful aftershocks devasted much of Christchurch CBD and caused major destruction in the Eastern Suburbs which were ‘Red Zoned’ meaning it was unliveable and houses had to be sold back to the council. I visited ‘Quake City’ at the Canterbury museum which explained the science behind the earthquake as well as showcasing artefacts from the earthquake including the spire of Christchurch Cathedral and the clocks from the former railway station. It is also a celebration and tribute to the heroics of the emergency services. Progress towards the regeneration of the city are also explored and discussed.

Quake City exhibition at Canterbury Museum

International Antarctic Centre

Before I arrived in Christchurch I had not heard about the International Antarctic Centre and I had only learned of its existence from picking up a flyer at my hostel. It turned out to be one of those hidden gems that you discover on the ground when you are travelling just like when I discovered the Turtle Hospital in Townsville when I was in Australia.

Fully interactive, the Antarctic Centre was fantastic. I was keen to experience the ‘Storm Dome’ which is basically the experience of an Antarctic storm but don’t worry they give you a big red coat which protects you from the freezing temperatures and the insane windchill! It literally was a very cool experience!

Chilling in the Storm Dome!

When I had conquered the storm, I decided to climb on board the Hagglund which is an all-terrain amphibious Antarctic vehicle. Not for the faint-hearted, you had to hold on tight as the vehicle ploughed up and down crevasses providing a bumpy ride for all inside. It was a lot of fun and one of those things you would love to do again just as soon as the first experience has ended!

Hagglund adventure

After the excitement of these activities it was time to chill and relax and what better way to do that than to observe the beautiful little blue penguins. I was fortunate enough to observe them whilst they were active as they are usually nocturnal animals. However, I could see them swimming around and I was lucky enough to catch them at feeding time too. They really are cute! There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about these amazing animals.

The centre also has some incredibly detailed and informative exhibitions about Antarctica, which I was eager to learn more about. There are plenty of other activities to enjoy including the 4D cinema shows! It was another great day out in New Zealand, and I was glad that I discovered it by accident!

Teaching resources available for primary teachers:

Blue Penguin Non-Chronological Report Planning for Year 5/6
Blue Penguin
Blue Penguin Non-Chronological Report Text

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