Gateway to the Antarctic

Hercules waiting at Christchurch © Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection

Hercules waiting at Christchurch © Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection

Listen to our Antarctic air bridge sound effects [3MB]

Christchurch is the aerial gateway to the Antarctic with over 100 direct flights each year.

Christchurch International Airport's Antarctic connection began in 1955 with the arrival of eight US Air Force aircraft for Operation Deep Freeze.  The aircraft left from Harewood Airfield for the 14-hour flight to McMurdo Station.  Operation Deep Freeze still remains at the airport today, and with the arrival of the International Antarctic Centre in 1992, Christchurch continues to embrace its' Antarctic connection.

ANTARCTIC AIR BRIDGE

To celebrate our connection with the Antarctic, some passengers flying into the airport from overseas will arrive onto an Antarctic themed air bridge.  Passengers will be surrounded by the expanse of the Antarctic and the towering Emperor penguins, they'll even hear the unique sounds of this amazing region.  Click PLAY opposite and have a listen yourself.

Did you know?

  • The Antarctic air logistic operations of the US, Italy and New Zealand are staged through Christchurch Airport to McMurdo Sound.  
  • Every summer the military aircraft of these nations complete some 100 flights to the continent and move over 5,500 passengers and 1,400 tonnes of cargo.
  • The US's McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base are approximately 3,920km by air from Christchurch.
  • The flight to the Antarctic from Christchurch takes about five hours in a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster or seven hours in an RNZAF C-130 Hercules.  You can view these aircraft in the below image gallery.
  • Weather disruptions are common and during the 2005/06 summer season nearly one-quarter of all flights were delayed. In the same season the re-supply ship was stranded for three weeks in some of the worst sea-ice conditions in over 20 years.

Image gallery

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