Pacific Scoop

Zealandia, the eighth continent

Press Release – Otago Museum

This weekend, Otago Museum will open its most recent locally produced planetarium show, Zealandia: Life on the Hidden Continent .This weekend, Otago Museum will open its most recent locally produced planetarium show, Zealandia: Life on the Hidden Continent.

Just over two years ago, researchers confirmed the most significant geological discovery of our time – an eighth continent, almost entirely submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. The visible land that comprises the continent of Zealandia includes Aotearoa, the Antipodes Islands, the Auckland Islands, the Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, and the Chatham Islands.

The 25-minute long planetarium film was created entirely locally. It was produced in collaboration with NHNZ, with scientific advice provided by the University of Otago and GNS Science. The show is preceded by a look at the geology of the continent written in association with Dr Nick Mortimer from GNS Science, one of the key scientists who worked on the Zealandia discovery.

The film focuses on the unique flora and fauna found on the continent, using some of NHNZ’s beautiful footage. Locally based actor Peter Hayden has narrated the script.

This is the first collaboration between the Museum and NHNZ on a planetarium show, and displays the potential for the local production of high quality, science-based dome format productions. It is the second collaboration with the University of Otago on a planetarium film, the previous one being the very successful Far from Frozen.

Ian McGee, NHNZ award-winning producer, says, “Creating a story for a screen nine metres in diameter has been a steep learning curve. We’ve discovered that excessive camera movement will make the audience reach for the airsick bags; and if we push too much sound through the big bass subwoofer, the vibrations in the Museum gallery above the dome could break one of the world’s only intact moa eggs!”

Oana Jones, Otago Museum Full Dome Producer, says, “It has been a pleasure to work with NHNZ on this epic showcase of the Zealandia continent. Their enormous library of high quality footage allows us to tell local stories that are significant on a global stage, and we look forward to more collaboration in the future.”

The show was made possible with funding support from the Marjorie Barclay Trust.

Zealandia: Life on the Hidden Continent opens to the public this Saturday, with the first screening at 11.30am. Tickets are available from the Otago Museum Shop or

Zealandia: Life on the Hidden Continent.

Planetarium show

11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, 13 April to 28 April

Suitable for ages 7+.

In 2017, a team of researchers announced the greatest geological discovery of our time: the existence of an eighth continent, almost completely submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. They called their discovery Zealandia.

How Zealandia became a refuge for one of the strangest collections of animals on the planet is a mystery 85 million years in the making. Journey through time to see some of the weird and wonderful life on these remote islands, survivors of the geological equivalent of Atlantis.

Just one more reason this part of our planet is so spectacular and unique!

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