Discover arctic cold, visit indigenous New Zealand and journey back to the age of the dinosaurs at this extensive museum.
Learn about the great explorers who devoted their lives to conquering one of the most hostile environments on earth and check out the vehicles they used along the way at the Canterbury Museum. Peer into the mouth of one of the greatest beasts to ever exist and admire exquisite carvings from some of the earliest indigenous tribes.
Start at the Antarctica display and uncover the perils faced by a select few intrepid travelers. See a bronze bust of Norwegian Roald Amundsen who became the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911. Read about his perilous journey and view the colossal Sno-Cat that was used as the command vehicle in the first overland crossing of Antarctica 47 years later.
From here, head to the Maori gallery that holds exquisite examples of early woodcarving and shaped pounamu jade stones. Stare into the lifelike eyes of battle masks and sculptures and view early utensils that were used for hunting and in battle.
The museum holds a fine selection of ancient artifacts. Perhaps the most majestic of all is the Egyptian mummy of Tash Pen Khonsu that dates back as early as 150 B.C. Made from a single length of hollowed wood, it has vivid hieroglyphics that reveal the story of the young noblewoman who lies preserved inside.
Continue on to the exhibit of prehistoric creatures where a life-size replica of an allosaurus fills a considerable part of the room. Scientists have found evidence that these ferocious predators lived approximately 150 million years ago. Even this remarkable creature fails to draw quite the same gasps as the complete skeleton of a South Island giant moa. Growing to a height of 10 feet (3 meters), these stunning birds became extinct soon after the arrival of humans in New Zealand.
Canterbury Museum is east of North Hagley Park in the center of Christchurch. The museum is open all week. Entry is free although donations are appreciated.