NZ IceFest is a celebration of New Zealand’s relationship with Antarctica and of Christchurch’s history as a gateway to the Antarctic. This festival includes many events, as well as interesting speakers, documentaries, and exhibitions.
The ‘Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton’ exhibition (based on the book of the same name), is a series of Jane Ussher’s photos (accompanied by a soundtrack) of objects inside and around the huts. It provides an interesting glimpse into what life may have been like for these explorers.
If you are keen to find out more about Scott and Shackleton we have a lot of books (including ebooks and audiobooks) detailing their remarkable lives. I am currently reading about Shackleton’s amazing survival story surrounding his ship Endurance. It became trapped in the ice and he managed to lead his men to safety through several incredible journeys over land and sea. At IceFest there’s a replica of the James Caird, the lifeboat used by Shackleton and some of his men in their efforts to be rescued, and it was seeing this and the accompanying notes alongside it that prompted me to get reading.
Also on display at the IceFest is the magnificent marble statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, sculpted by Scott’s widow, Lady Kathleen Scott. It was sad to see it in several pieces (it sustained earthquake damage); I do hope that it can be restored. It is an eerie reminder of the earthquakes, and seems very symbolic, shattered but hopefully restorable.
Onto cheerier thoughts… If you’re hungry, I can recommend a West Coast whitebait fritter, and there are also some other great food options available from the stalls at the Icefest. If it is a chilly night and you need some warming up, then that wintery treat, mulled wine, is available.
The ice skating rink at IceFest looks like fun (if you are more coordinated than I am!), and was getting a lot of use the night we visited. See the IceFest website for pricing and special offers.
NZ IceFest runs from 14 September to 14 October in Christchurch’s Hagley Park (next to the tennis courts that are close to Victoria Lake), and is definitely worth a visit, especially at night when you’ll see the twinkling lights surrounding the ice rink and lighting up the trees. Some activities within the Ice Station have an associated cost, but entry is free and there is plenty to see and do free of charge. For more details, visit the IceFest website.