Christchurch is the aerial gateway to the Antarctic with over 100 direct flights each year.
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.
Every summer military aircraft from USA and Italy 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.
Lyttelton Port Company annually hosts icebreakers bound for and returning from the Antarctic. Many Antarctic expeditions used the port as their base. The Discovery, Morning, Nimrod and Terra Nova expeditions all used the Graving Dock, which is still in operation today. The port continues to provide services for Antarctic scientific and supply vessels. Recent ships visits include Araon (South Korea), Nathaniel B Palmer (US), Italica (Italy), Xue Long (China) Janas (NZ) and Kapitan Klevnikov (Russia).
Heritage Expeditions, a local, family owned business formed in 1985, operates its own Polar Research Vessel, Spirit of Enderby, on expeditions to Antarctica and the Subantarctic, departing from Lyttelton.