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Christchurch Antarctic Office
30 November 2021

Kia ora koutou
120 years ago this month Captain Robert Falcon Scott arrived in Lyttelton with his ship Discovery to begin his first Antarctic Expedition.  There were only two cities in contention at the time to be Scott’s preferred Gateway  - Melbourne and Christchurch.  Rumour has it that Scott’s cousin and namesake, played the “provincial” card to get his relative to lean towards Lyttelton. Robert Julian Scott wrote to his Captain cousin, extolling the virtues of the people and businesses of Canterbury, ensuring him of the support he would receive from the city and the region. When Discovery departed on the 21 December 1901, Scott recorded in his diary - possibly while dining on one of the 45 free Canterbury lambs that had been gifted to his expedition – “It is most difficult to speak in fitting terms of the kindness shown to us in New Zealand...On every side we were accorded the most generous terms by the firms or individuals with whom we had to deal with in business matters”.  A hundred years later, the collective power of the Canterbury region has come to the fore to support Antarctic endeavours.  Congratulations to PrimePort in Timaru for being chosen as the construction staging facility for the new Scott Base.  Once again “Scott” is spreading his economic benefit across the plains of Canterbury! 

Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season. See you in the new year, with a “season closing” Days of Ice to look forward to in Feb/March.

Thanks to local photographer Antz Powell for his special shot of Scott Base from the pressure ridges at Pram Point.  In a few years there will be a large ship parked here offloading the new Scott Base !

Ngā mihi nui
David & Sue
Christchurch Antarctic Office

Antarctic Gateway movements

Thanks to Bob Cranfield for his photo above showing the resupply of a Kiwi field party in 1961.  The equipment may have changed, but the logistics challenge remains the same.  Here's an update on some of this season's Antarctic movements. 

Following the RNZAF’s C-130 
MedEvac flight in July, the RNZAF has completed eight flights to date this season with five more flights scheduled.

The C-17 Globemaster has recorded 21 flights to Antarctica during WinFly and the start of the season. We’ll next see them back in the city end of January ready to close out the season from early February.

The Italian Air Force is back in the city and has completed eight missions to Mario Zucchelli station in Terra Nova Bay in their C-130J. They will fly one last time in support of Italy’s 37th Antarctic mission, before returning to Italy early December.

You can still see the New York Air National Guard 109th (139th) LC-130s on the Antarctic ramp at Christchurch Airport.

Lyttelton Port will be busy with Antarctic vessels leading into the new year:

Italy’s icebreaking research vessel N/R Laura Bassi arrived 29 November, 120 years to the day that Captain Scott first arrived in Lyttelton.

US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star has left Seattle on her 25th journey to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze. 

Following a recent expedition to the North Pole - Korea’s Icebreaker research vessel RV Araon will arrive on New Year’s Eve from Antarctica.

The Italian and Korean ships will return at the end of the season.

Antarctica NZ Science update
The 2021/22 season is well underway, with Antarctica NZ personnel and scientists already on the ice undertaking or getting ready to begin fieldwork. Antarctica New Zealand recently published the 2021/22 Field Season poster, which contains a short explanation of the science they’re supporting during the summer season. To view, click 

Applications for Antarctica New Zealand's 2022 postgraduate scholarship round will open on 1st February 2022. You can find more information 

Space to Ice
A warm welcome to Carla Haroz, who joins the National Science Foundation's Office of Programs as Antarctic Operations Manager. Carla will be responsible for day-to-day management of operations at all three USAP stations, including responsibility for emergency response, fleet, fire response, waste management, fuels, heavy traversing, and airfields.  Carla comes from NASA where she was the flight operations director to the International Space Station.  As well as impressive line-up of qualifications, Carla speaks Russian, which is probably handy when you are CAPCOM for the ISS.  Read more about Carla 

Gateway Cities Korero
What better way to celebrate Antarctica Day on December 1st, than exploring our own connections to the frozen continent ?
 engaged are Cantabrians with Antarctica and the role of Ōtautahi as a Gateway City?

University of Canterbury Gateway Antarctica researchers, Assoc. Prof. Daniela Liggett and Dr Gabriela Roldan will present the findings of a multidisciplinary and international study on Antarctic Gateway Cities. You are invited to participate, ask questions and discuss. If you have any questions on this event, please email Gabriela.

Christchurch, from Antarctic Gateway to Custodial City
Tūranga - TSB Room - 60 Cathedral Square
Wednesday 1 December - 5.30pm
Doors open at 5.00pm
Note:the event will take place under COVID-19 Level 2 restrictions

Exhibit at the Innovation Expo

The Christchurch Antarctic Office is looking for expressions of interest from local organisations and businesses who might wish to exhibit under a collective Antarctic Gateway banner at the Smart Christchurch Innovation Expo 21/22 February 2022.  

Explore new possibilities, experience tomorrow’s technology, and meet our city’s innovators at one of the first events in the world-class Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.  The Innovation Expo is expected to attract 10,000 attendees over two days.  Check out the website here – and let us know if you are interested in working as part of an Antarctic Gateway City dedicated space by emailing David Kennedy.

Season Closing celebrations !

COVID may have scuttled our Season Opening plans with Days of Ice, but you can't keep a good Antarctic celebration down.  Days of Ice has been rescheduled to coincide withe the close of the Antarctic Season from 24 February to 6 March.  There are over 40 events on the programme, with something Antarctic for everyone. Exhibitions, Comedians, Polar movies, kids activities and expert speakers to name a few.  As a special family treat, kids will go free at the International Antarctic Centre for the duration of Days of Ice!  Have a sneak peek at the programme here

UC Gateway and KOPRI collab
Dr Gemma Brett, Gateway Antarctica UC, leads a project on Platelet ice at Terra Nova Bay in collaboration with the Korean Polar Research Institute. Gemma is joined by PhD student Natasha Gardiner as a field assistant 
Thanks to KOPRI and the team at Jang Bogo Station for looking after them!

What is platelet ice? Platelet ice is the crystallographic signature of deep-origin glacial meltwater and atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions.  Also, platelet ice accumulates into a porous mass called the sub-ice platelet layer, which is an important biological habitat for keystone species in the Southern Ocean. 

Conservators winter over
The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Conservation team has entered pre-ice quarantine ahead of a busy summer season of conservation works at all four of the historic Ross Island Huts, which will lead into a programme of Winter Artefact Conservation at Scott Base – the first winter-over conservators since 2014. The Venesta store cases pictured here at Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds will be part of the upcoming season’s deferred maintenance programme.  More detail here

The Business of Antarctica
Scott Base isn't the only Antarctic Science Station needing an overhaul.   It is estimated that 70 percent of the bases on the seventh continent will need upgrading or replacing over the next ten years.  Christchurch and Canterbury have 120 years of experience providing specialised goods and services to Antarctic expeditions and programmes, which is why we've started the
 Christchurch Antarctic Network - to modestly tell the world how great we are.   If you know of a business with expertise in extreme environments or strong connections to Antarctica, let us know by email here, and we'll join them up to Christchurch's coolest club.

Antarctic ice vault for humanity
Many of the world’s mountain glaciers will have disappeared by 2100.  These glaciers keep a record of our climate and environment, captured in ice across millennia. They are the only direct natural records we have of variations in atmospheric composition.

The Ice Memory Foundation’s inspiring project will store glacial ice cores from around the world for future generations.  The “Ice Memories” will wait in a vault at Concordia Station on the Antarctic plateau for decades or centuries, until science and technology develop to extract information that could one day save our planet. Check out this short video to understand more.

Mind the Gap
The New York Air National Guard's 109th (139th) Airlift Wing fly the largest ski equipped aircraft in the world.  Only 10 of these specialist aircraft exist in the world.  From December to January in Antarctica, wheeled aircraft can't operate and only the specialised LC-130s can fill what's known as the "wheeled gap".  Three of these aircraft will be operating out of Christchurch this summer.  See the 109th Facebook page here

A day in the life of a C-17 crew
Ever wondered what a (long) day in the life of a C-17 Globemaster crew on an Antarctic mission might entail?  This great little video takes you from mission briefing to the ice and back.  The inflight application of Antarctic themed cologne is a tradition of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.  Lovely fly-by footage of the crater of Mt Erebus on the way home.  Check it out here
Haere Ra to C-17 Commander Lt-Col. Brandon Tellez who is heading back to the USA after three seasons of Deep Freeze.  Haere Mai to new C-17 Commander Lt-Col. Matt McNulty.

Party in Antarctica
Still searching for a special venue for your Christmas or New Years celebrations?  It may be right under your slightly frostbitten nose. The International Antarctic Centre has a range of interactive experiences that provide fun, education and excitement for visitors of all ages and the team takes pride in delivering inclusive and engaging events of all shapes and sizes.  

Get close up to a husky, encounter an indoor Antarctic storm or hang out with Little Blue Penguins.  There’s also the exciting Hägglund Field Trip, an awesome 4D Theatre, a massive HD screen and food and beverage options galore. Check it out here


  • Christchurch, from Antarctic Gateway to Custodial City”
    Tūranga - TSB Room - 60 Cathedral Square
    Wednesday 1 December - 5.30pm

  • Days of Ice - 24 February to 6 March 2022

  • Congratulations Professor Gary Wilson for being awarded the 2021 Thomson Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his leadership in developing New Zealand's international profile in Antarctic Research

  • Congratulations to Dr Michelle LaRue at from Gateway Antarctica for receiving the Society for Conservation Biology’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr LaRue has been recognised for her unique use of marketing tools to increase public engagement and achieve conservation goal

  • Congratulations to Dr Gabriela Roldan and Matt Jordan who were elected as co-Chairs of the Canterbury Branch of the NZ Antarctic Society, with Geoff Price remaining as Treasurer, John Rogers and Anne Hunter sharing the Secretary role and other committee members of Chrissie Williams, Faye Broughton, Jane Ellis and Ken Livingston - Special thanks to outgoing co-Chairs Shirley Russ and John Rogers for their tireless work and contribution over many years - our Antarctic Gateway City status is richer because of you

  • The NZ Antarctic Society reelected Linda Kestle, Bill Nye, Natalie Robinson, Liz Forde and Stuart Grayson

With the festive season around the corner, we thought it appropriate to finish with a "Christmas" themed blast from the past.  Old Antarctic Explorer Bob Cranfield captured Ken Fairclough cutting the mid-winter party cake during the Scott Base winter-over of 1961.  Looks like those army-issue machetes even made their way to Antarctica, where there was hardly a jungle vine in sight...