Gateway to Antarctica

Hercules waiting at Christchurch © Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection

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 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 a Hercules C-130.  You can view these aircraft in the image gallery below.
  • 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