“How about Tanks for Everything?” Barret asked one evening while we were making dinner. “That sounds rad.”
It was our third visit to Christchurch and I was beginning to feel like we were living in the North South Holiday Park. Every night, while we cooked dinner in the shared kitchen, we picked up a few tourist pamphlets from the rack near the door and read them.
“Well- this still looks cool. How about the Adrenalin Forest?!”
My modus operandi, at least since I picked up the brochure, had been to see a kiwi bird. Having achieved that, I wanted to save my money.
“The Antarctic Centre? You CAN’T say no to that.”
I had previously nixed this idea as being dorky, but he was right. I couldn’t say no to that. Truth be told, I’d just found out that my sister Nan was chosen to go to Antarctica as a contract fire-fighter. I was pretty proud and somehow unsurprised that her first home-away-from-home would be an isolated, frozen tundra.
She was due to arrive in Christchuch in two days time for orientation and to pick up her cold weather gear. Only after she had forwarded me her contact details did I realize that the touristy Antarctic Centre was actually attached to the US Antarctic Program. In fact, the flights to Mc Murdo Station were the planes that flew over our tent and woke us up at midnight.
Suddenly attractions like the 4D EXTREME Theatre and Beyond the Frozen Sunset felt very relevant; I had to visit the Antarctic Centre.
The tickets weren’t cheap, but Barret and I weren’t skimping on anything. We wanted to know as much as we could about what Nan might experience. If she was going to ride on a Hagglund, I wanted to as well. If she was going to fly on the Hercules cargo plane, I had to watch the whole informational video loop. If she got frostbite, then I was determined to simulate that by touching the ice slide with bare hands.
We browsed through Mc Murdo photo feeds far longer than the average visitor and shot each other knowing glances when there was firefighter equipment on display. Nan told me she was thinking of spending a winter season their too, so I watched an entire video about ‘life at the station’.
Spoiler alert- there were a lot of hippies and guitars.
I also gave anyone unfortunate enough to linger in my vicinity a short biography on my sister- employees included.
It was a new experience going to a museum with an agenda and I liked conducting research on behalf of my sister and my family. It felt a little bit stealthy, a little bit exciting, and I couldn’t wait to report back to Nan about Antarctica. She was going to love it!
How to get to the Antarctic Centre: 38 Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch 8544, New Zealand