Antarc­tic 4-D ex­po­sure

Eerie re­al­ism grips KIM TR­IE­GAARDT while view­ing a breath­tak­ing per­for­mance.

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The lights dim and we set­tle into our seats. The 3-D glasses take a bit of jig­gling to fit, but soon it feels like a night at the movies. Only, in­stead of soft plush seats we are sitting on squishy plas­tic. That prob­a­bly should have served as a warn­ing but we are too busy get­ting comfy and be­moan­ing the lack of pop­corn to an­tic­i­pate what is com­ing next.

As dark­ness set­tles over the au­di­to­rium at the Antarc­tic Cen­tre, Christchurch, a crescendo of mu­sic sweeps us on to the bridge of the Spirit of En­derby, an ex­pe­di­tion ship heavy with pas­sen­gers headed to see the Ice. The South­ern Ocean is grey with rag­ing waves, and in 3-D the ex­pe­ri­ence is eerily real; I find my­self hold­ing my breath as the boat crests a wave and launches into space.

It’s what hap­pens next that will make movies a bit of a yawn from now on. As we watch the boat crash into the sea, my seat jolts and wa­ter sprays across my face. There are a few shrieks from the au­di­ence. No­body had been ex­pect­ing that.

Our chairs con­tinue to shud­der as we crash through waves. Sprays of fine mist ac­com­pany each stom­ach-churn­ing lurch, and the fresh salty smell of the sea soaks the air around us. I find my­self grip­ping the arm­rests and brac­ing for the next jolt. This is the movies in 4-D, an all-round to­tal sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence.

Safely moored, the tourists in the movie head to a pen­guin colony. One fluffy brown king pen­guin chick de­taches it­self from the group and wad­dles over to the cam­era and stares right down the bar­rel – all very cute un­til it sneezes. Pen­guin snot shoots right out the screen and on to my face – well, that’s what it seems liked. It’s in fact just a squirt of wa­ter from the chair in front of me.

As the sky dark­ens over Antarc­tica, snow be­gins to fall. First, it comes as streams of bub­bles, and then, as the skies darken in the movie, lit­tle flakes of ice start to blow across us. They land on me and dis­ap­pear in an in­stant. I stick out my tongue hop­ing to catch a snowflake. No luck.

Soon the pen­guins start hud­dling to­gether as the wind picks up even more and the full force of an Antarc­tic storm hits them. We get a slightly mod­er­ate gale thanks to a wind ma­chine at the front of the theatre.

The Antarc­tic Cen­tre’s new 4-D ex­pe­ri­ence was filmed by Kiwi Emmy award-win­ning cin­e­matog­ra­pher Mike Sin­gle who cap­tured the footage in the face of 62 de­grees be­low zero tem­per­a­tures, once the wind chill was fac­tored in. Thank­fully, it’s not nearly as cold as that in the theatre, but the icy blast that brushes our an­kles, and the thick fog that floats up from the dry-ice ma­chines give a hint at ex­treme Antarc­tic con­di­tions.

The only down­side for Christchurch res­i­dents is that you can’t just go and see the Ice Voy­age movie; you have to do the whole Antarc­tic Cen­tre ex­pe­ri­ence (which is worth it any­way if you haven’t been be­fore).

But on the up­side, you can adopt a tourist for the day and you’ll get in free with a pay­ing guest – or take ad­van­tage of the spe­cial $25 ticket for lo­cals (don’t for­get to take some­thing with your name and ad­dress on it). You’ll leave smil­ing but wind­blown and damp, and thank­ful you didn’t get pop­corn.

King pen­guin chick: He­may look cute and fluffy, but just wait un­til he sneezes on you.

Icy el­e­ments: Mist, snow, wind and

spray are ex­pe­ri­enced by the

au­di­ence at the Antarc­tic Cen­tre’s 4-D movie,


See or ice­ for more in­for­ma­tion on the Antarc­tic Cen­tre tours.

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