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Christchurch Antarctic Office

Kia ora koutou

Spring is in the air, which means the Antarctic Science Season is upon us. COVID-19 is still limiting the number of personnel coming through our Antarctic Gateway, but credit and thanks are due to the NZ Government for approving MIQ slots for our international partners from USA, Italy, Korea, Germany and France.

The Antarctic apron at Christchurch Airport will have a truly international flavour this season with aircraft from the RNZAF, the US Air Force and the return of the Aeronautica Militare, the Italian Air Force. Lyttelton Port will also be buzzing with Antarctic research vessels with several visits over summer from Italy’s Laura Bassi and Korea’s Araon.

A warm welcome back to Ōtautahi Christchurch to our International Antarctic colleagues and friends. We also tip our hat to the Kiwi contingent from Antarctica New Zealand who will quarantine before departure for Scott Base and beyond.

Our traditional Antarctic Season Opening plans have been disrupted by the latest COVID outbreak, but in true Antarctic fashion we are soldiering on, just a bit later than originally planned. See below for the rescheduled dates in 2022.

We wish everyone a safe, happy and productive Antarctic Season!

Ngā mihi nui
David & Sue
Christchurch Antarctic Office

Our annual celebration of our Antarctic Gateway City status Days of Ice is normally scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Antarctic season in mid-October. Due to the uncertainty created by the recent Delta outbreak, Days of Ice has been postponed to 24 February – 6 March 2022, which coincides with the closing of the Antarctic season. There will be a wonderful and diverse collection of over 40 Antarctic events organised by the local Antarctic sector. Mark the dates in your diary and keep an eye on the website We'll update you in the new year.


Bill Nye’s Adventure Books was hosting the Icebreaker reception at the beginning of a three-day reunion of “Old Antarctic Explorers” when the COVID lockdown announcement cut short the event.

The 20 Explorers were part of the New Zealand Antarctic expeditions of the 50s and 60s, some arrived on the ice around the same time as the original Scott Base.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, who was at the reception to honour the Explorers, ended up being the one to break the lockdown news to them. "I'm sorry that this ends this way, especially with so many of you having come so far." said Mayor Dalziel.

"Antarctica means the world to this Gateway city and the Antarcticans who choose to come here. We recognise what a significant contribution Antarctica has made to our lives and the world. In the future I hope to one day welcome you back again.”

We understand the Explorers are planning to return to complete their reunion within the next few months. You can’t keep a good Antarctican down. Read the NZ Herald article here.


After a boomerang’ flight on the 20th of September, the first cohort of Antarctica New Zealand's Scott Base staff flew from Christchurch to Antarctica on the 24th of September marking the start of New Zealand’s 2021/22 summer season.
The US Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster is due to make its first flight Monday, 4 October and the Italian Air Force’s (Aeronautica Militare) Hercules is due to fly south on 19 October.


Congratulations to UC Physics Professor Jenni Adams for becoming the first woman to receive the prestigious Dan Walls Medal, the highest honour from the NZ Institute of Physics.

Professor Adams was awarded the medal for her work on the
IceCube collaboration, which 10 years ago built a one kilometre long telescopic array under the ice at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The IceCube observatory has made several world-first discoveries relating to neutrinos, unique sub-atomic particles that offer insights into the universe.


The South Pole is one of the world's premier sites for astronomy. At more than 9,000 feet elevation, the thin, dry air and six months of darkness during the polar winter make for ideal star gazing conditions. For more than forty years, astronomers have trekked to the bottom of the world to study the cosmos above. Check out this timeline of Telescopes at the Pole from NSF's Office of Polar Programs.



The 11 Regional, City and District Councils of Canterbury have pooled resources, knowledge and expertise for a stronger approach to adapting to Climate Change. “It’s time, Canterbury” includes a website with information on what we can expect in our changing future, what our local authorities are actioning, and suggestions and resources so we as individuals can make our own contribution. Check out the website and sign up to show your support and receive ongoing information.


Canterbury Tech are hosting an online event on October 5th and Matt Jordan, Project Manager from Antarctica New Zealand is one of the guest speakers who will discuss the construction of the new Scott Base. Matt will cover some of the unique challenges and “out of the box” solutions needed to build in extreme climate conditions and remote location that wouldn’t normally apply in standard New Zealand based construction projects. Register here


The South Georgia Museum is running an amazing online exhibition, Shackleton’s Last Quest, to mark the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s final Antarctic Expedition and the end of the heroic era of polar exploration. The Museum’s collection holds a number of significant artefacts and photographs linked to Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Quest expedition. The exhibition focuses on Shackleton’s final resting place and the significant part played by South Georgia in the history of Antarctic exploration.


Founded by Christchurch Antarctic videography legend Anthony Powell in 2006, the Winter International Film Festival of Antarctica (WIFFA) is an annual film festival only open to entrants who spend the entire winter in Antarctica. The festival is for short movies, less than 5 minutes of duration. It’s fair to say that “fun” and “crazy” are part of the international language of the frozen continent. Check out this years's winners and some classics from the past here

Farewell to Dr. Kelly Falkner, former Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs. Thank you Kelly on behalf of the Antarctic Gateway City of Christchurch for your friendship and support over many years. We wish you well for your future endeavours, and hope to welcome you back to Christchurch soon to show you our gratitude in person.
Welcome to the new Director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Office of Polar Programs, Dr. Roberta Marinelli. Dr. Marinelli is an oceanographer with extensive Antarctic experience. She has been a previous Program Director of Antarctic Biology and Medicine at the NSF, and amongst other things in an expert of the biogeochemistry of the seafloor. Marinelli Head in the McMurdo Dry Valleys was named to honour her Service to the US Antarctic Program.
Co-chairs of the Canterbury Branch of the NZ Antarctic Society, Shirley Russ and John Rogers have stepped down, and we welcome new co-chairs Matt Jordan and Dr. Gabriela Roldan. Shirley will continue to be involved with Special Projects and John will remain in the interim as acting Secretary. Thanks to Shirley and John for their leadership of the Society and their support of the Christchurch Antarctic Office events and activities

Every year Christchurch City Libraries hosts the Christchurch Photo Hunt to engage the community in heritage and gather photographs from across the community, along with the unique stories of their creators. The theme for the 2021 Photo Hunt is: People and Place - Our Stories revealed. Entries are open from 1-31 October. As an Antarctic Gateway City, we have thousands of stories to tell through imagery. Dig out that old shoebox of Antarctic photos from under the bed and enter HERE