Hercules waiting at Christchurch © Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection
Christchurch is the aerial gateway to Antarctica
with around 100 direct flights each year.
Christchurch 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.
Did you know?
- The Antarctic air logistic operations of the US, Italy, South
Korea and New Zealand are staged through Christchurch Airport to
- 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 a
Hercules C-130. You can view these aircraft in the image
- 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.