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Christchurch & Antarctica

New Zealand has played a key role in the Antarctic for more than 100 years; from Christchurch’s origins as the final stepping-off point for explorers Scott and Shackleton during the heroic era of exploration and New Zealand’s contribution to the International Geophysical Year and Trans-Antarctic Expedition in the 1950s (who can forget Sir Edmund Hillary’s ‘dash to the Pole’), to its status as one of the first signatories to the Antarctic Treaty.

New Zealand’s role in the Antarctic is further cemented by the cutting-edge science undertaken by New Zealanders, while Christchurch has the added distinction of being one of only five Antarctic gateway cities in the world, and hosts the New Zealand, United States, Italian and Korean Antarctic programmes as well as the NASA SOFIA and AtOM programmes.

Our authentic history and immediate proximity that connects us to the Antarctic gives New Zealand a genuine platform to engage and lead national and global discussions around critical Antarctic issues that affect us all.

The Christchurch Antarctic Gateway Strategy, developed by The Antarctic Office in consultation with stakeholders and the community, is designed to spark change in the way that we engage on Antarctic issues. The Strategy redefines Christchurch’s role as an ‘Antarctic custodian city’. This opportunity is given expression by re-orientating the traditional relationship and focusing on the importance of Christchurch to the Antarctic.