On this page we list breaking news items and notices of forthcoming events of interest to Antarctic Philatelists.  It will be updated as often or as infrequently as events happen.


3rd December, 2006

Icebergs spotted off New Zealand coast for first time since 1931.

During November 2006 an Armada of icebergs arrived off the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. This had not happened since 1931. This time an armada of 200 icebergs arrived after a long several year journey from their birth in the weddell Sea. Several icebergs, some as big as 1 km long were visible from high pooints around Dunedin but the best views were obtained by the many people who took helicopter flights out to see the icebergs. We have photos and some flown postcards from these flights which can be seen here.


16th January, 2006

R.N.Z.A.F. Orion lands on Pegasus ice runway, McMurdo Sound

For the first time a RNZAF P3-K Orion aircraft landed in antarctica when an Orion from Number 5 Squadron touched down on Pegasus runway next to Ross Island in McMurdo Sound. The aircraft (shown below) was undertaking air surveillance in the Ross Sea checking out fishing and whaling vessels for possible breaches of treaty agreements. In is hoped that in future seasons a Orion aircraft can be based there for short periods to help increase the surveillance capabilities of New Zealand in support of their CCAMLR obligations. It also adds another Antarctic medevac alternative.

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Photo courtesy NZ Defense Forces

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Photo courtesy NZ Defense Forces


15th January, 2006

It has been learned that the Fesco operated icebreaker "Krasin" which has been chartered by the US National Science Foundation to break into McMurdo this season has lost a blade (Paddle) off its propellor and while the vessel carries a spare propeller it can't be fitted unless the vessel returns to New Zealand. This will take at least 2 weeks and leaves McMurdo without a dedicated icebreaker at a critical time. In the interim, the US supply vessel "American Tern" remained in Lyttelton until the 18th of January awaiting developments.


24th December, 2005


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News comes from both Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Organisations that their vessels are currently harrying the Japanese whasling fleet of the Nisshin Maru and its fleet of 4 catchers. The vessels are currently situated in Commonwealth Bay in Australian Antarctic Territorial waters with the Sea Shepherds "Farley Mowat" captain Paul Watson vowing to prevent the whaling at all costs.

23rd December, 2005


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The South Pole Traverse team arrived and parked their tractors at the South Pole at 2:58pm, Friday December 23rd 2005, delivering heavy equipment and snow removal equipment with a total weight that would have required approximately 11 LC-130 flights. This Traverse using the planned road to the South Pole is an important and controversal development which will see a lot of supplies taken to the Pole station overland rather than by aircraft.


12th December, 2005

The Russian icebreaker "Krasin" made an unannounced call into Lyttelton today to load fuel for McMurdo Sound. The "Krasin" has again been chartered by the United States National Scence Foundation to break into McMurdo Sound and allow the regular tanker and supply ships to replenish McMurdo station.  In the past a US Coast Guard Icebreaker has been used for this task but as both American Polar Class icebreakers are proving unreliable the change has been made to employ the much newer "Krasin"


14th January, 2005

The Tourist Icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov arrived at Lyttelton at 6.30am today at the end of a long voyage from Ushuaia in Argentina. Reports from tourists on board are of a wonderfull cruise with the only dissapointment being that they were not able to go ashore at McMurdo or Scott Bases.

The icebreaker departs Lyttelton for another cruise tomorrow.

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12th January, 2005

Finally after a long wait for the weather to improve at McMurdo the Russian Antonov-3T aircraft was able to depart the South Pole yesterday and safely landed at McMurdo. Meanwhile the Ilyushin-76 had departed Christchurch the same morning. Today (12th January) the Ilyushin-76 with the Antonov-3t inside safely flew back to Christchurch arriving shortly before 8.30pm with the expedition leader Dr Artur Chilingarov being interviewed on network television news. 

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The Ilyushin-76 and the Antonov-3t on the McMurdo Pegasus Ice runway

The following 2 photos courtesy of Joe Lindsay.

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Antonov-3t at McMurdo

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Ilyushin-76 at rear, Antonov in front.


10th January, 2005

- yet another Russian Aerial Antarctic Expedition update-

Bad weather at McMurdo continues to delay the flight of the Antonov-3t from the South Pole to McMurdo. The Ilyushin-76 meanwhile remains in Christchurch.

Medivac underway from Chinese Expedition

This past week a member of the Chinese traverse team came down with a high altitude sickness near Dome Argus in East Antarctica. This has an altitude of over 4000 meters. An American aircraft from South Pole Station was sent to extract the patient but the current bad weather at McMurdo has meant the patient has not yet been   medivaced through McMurdo and onto New Zealand. 


6th January, 2005

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Russian Aerial Antarctic Expedition update-

Bad weather at McMurdo has again delayed the flight of the Antonov-3T from the South Pole to McMurdo. This weather has also prevented the Ilyushin-76 flying to McMurdo. At this stage another attempt might be made on Friday 7th January but weather condition do look like causing further delays.

At left we show a special patch produced for the Antonov-3T part of the Expedition. the inscription translates as "Russian Return Expedition/South Pole/ 50th Anniversary"


4th January, 2005

The Antonov-3T has earlier today undergone a hour and a half  flight test and we expect it to depart South Pole for McMurdo on Wednesday depending on weather conditions at McMurdo.

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The Antonov-3T ready for its flight

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The take off from the South pole ski-way

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28th December 2004

We can report the safe arrival of the Ilyushin-76 aircaft at McMurdo yesterday afternoon. The two following pictures show the Ilyushin-76 on the Pegasus runway at McMurdo.

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27th DECEMBER 2004

The Italian Antarctic supply vessel "Italica" arrived in Lyttelton Harbour early this morning for a 3 day stay before heading south to Terra Nova Bay in the Antarctic.


27th DECEMBER 2004


The Russian Ilyushin-76 aircraft departed Christchurch at 10am this morning bound for McMurdo (Pegasus Ice runway) with a replacement engine and spares for the Antonov-3T aircraft which was stranded at the South Pole in January 2002.

The Ilyushin-76 is expected to arrive at Pegasus about 3:30 pm and a team of 12 Russians, their tools and aircraft parts will then head on to South Pole by American hercules aircraft. With the use of a 24 hour team roster repairs are hopede to be completed within a week so that a test flight can occurr about the 4th of January. with the Antanov-3 hopefully able to fly to McMurdo the following day. It will then be taken apart and placed inside the Ilyushin-76 which will return to McMurdo from Christchurch on the 6th of January. The Antonov-3T will then be flown McMurdo to Christchurch inside the Ilyushin-76.

During this time a further group of 11 Russians will stay in McMurdo. These people are specialists who may go to the South Pole if required and media staff including a film crew.   The aircraft repair and retrieval has attracted considerable publicity in Russia and this has encouraged the American NSF to accept the project as an official Russian Antarctic Program activity and consequently the Americans are affording the expedition their official support.

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Ilyushin-76 patch with badge attached. The Symbol is that of "Gasprom Air", the large Russian Oil company and Sponsor of the expedition.

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Russian 2004 Antarctic Expedition Patch.



Operation Deep Freeze expect to finally pension off their C141 starlifter aircraft at the end of the current season. These aircraft which were first introduced in 1975 provide freight capacity on the Christchurch to McMurdo route. The starlifters have come to the end of their economical life and have been gradually replaced by the new Globemaster aircraft in recent years. The very last Starlifter Antarctic flight is tenatively scheduled for early February and in a fitting co-incidence it is hoped that the very same aircraft which commenced the service will fly the last flight in 2005.




The Ilyushin 76 aircraft arrived in Christchurch about mid-night on the 2st of December with a reported 35 people on board including a film crew.

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Ilyushin 76 at Christchurch 22 December 2004

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The aircraft's registration number is RA76445

Contrary to previous reports the aircraft did not as expected depart for the Antarctic on Wednesday afternoon but is now expected to remain at Christchurch for several days. Evidently the US Antarctic Programme have decided that the McMurdo runway is not in a fit state to accept the Ilyushin especially as none of the crew on board have Antarctic flight experience.  Latest reports are that the Antonov-3T engine which the Ilyushin has on board will be transferred to a American ski equipped Hercules at Christchurch and then flown with Russian technicians to the South Pole where in can be fitted to the Antonov which will then fly to McMurdo. The Ilyushin is expected to then fly to McMurdo to pick up the Antonov. Exactly what the remaining members of the Russian party will do is no doubt being negotiated with the Americans but it is known that both McMurdo and South Pole bases have no spare bed space on hand. We await developments with interest.


20th DECEMBER, 2004


Back in January 2002 a Russian "Semi Official" expedition arrived at the South Pole on a Antonov-3 aircraft with various Russian dignatories and some tourists on board. Their aircraft was not able to leave the South Pole and the party was eventually "Rescued" by Adventure Network International (for the tourist part of the expedition) and by the Americans of Operation Deep Freeze for the Russian part of the expedition after arrangement with the US state Office. The party came out through Christchurch. You can see pictures and story about at;

The leader of the expedition was the famed Russian "Hero of the Nation" Artur Chilingarov who was Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma and a person of high standing in Russia.

An Ilyushin 76 is expected to arrive in Christchurch late this coming Tuesday evening (21st December)and it will depart Christchurch for McMurdo at 2pm the following afternoon (Wednesday 22nd). This means it will reach McMurdo about 7pm. After offloading cargo and passengers, the Ilyushin will return to Christchurch where it will wait for the next week or so until the Antonov-3 is ready for picking up from McMurdo. They expect this to happen some time in early January. Artur Chilingarov is apparently going to be in charge of the expedition again . The plan is that the Russians will bring a replacement engine for the Antanov-3 inside the Ilyushin. At McMurdo it will be transferred to a US Air National Guard ski equipped Hercules and then flown along with a Soviet engineering team of 8 to the South Pole. Another group of 12 Russians will do day trips to and from South Pole. When the new engine of the Antonov-3 is fitted it will then fly to McMurdo where it will be taken apart and put inside the Ilyushin 76 for return to Christchurch.

Now of course you might ask why are the Americans helping out the Russians in this manner?   Well it is  in exchange for the loan of an icebreaker to help in the break into McMurdo this season.  This seson the B15A Iceberg and the thick sea ice it has caused in McMurdo Sound are proving difficult. this season the American have their CoastGuard vessel "Polar Star" attempting the break-in to McMurdo. Last season they used both Polar Class icebreakers and it wasn't enough (They are both aging and often break down) and this season the Polar Sea is currently under refit. The Americans have tried to charter an icebreaker elsewhere   The outcome is that the FESCO owned icebreaker "Krasin" will be loaned by the Russians. It is a relatively new and conventionally powered icebreaker which is based in Vladivostok. It has just finished a big job earlier this month and from late next year will undertake a big 10 year contract escorting crude oil tankers through the Tatar Strait for Exxon so it has a window of oportunity to undertake this task.

The two Icebreakers ("Polar Star" and "Krasin" are expected to try to go south of B-15a and squeak between B-15k and C-16 Ice Bergs which will be a new path into McMurdo.


-Update December 21st 2004

According to a news release 3 hours ago..............


The Far-Eastern Marine Shipping Company's icebreaker Krasin leaves Vladivostok on Tuesday for the Antarctic to rescue the US polar station McMurdo. According to the shipping company, the cruise to the Antarctic was ordered by the Russian Government at the request of the US authorities for an ice-breaker to assist in urgently resupplying the US Antarctic mission. McMurdo Station is a major research center in the Antarctic. It is situated on the coast of the Ross Sea. Two US Coast Guard icebreakers - the Polar Sea and the Polar Star usually supply the station with everything its crew needs for sustenance and research. However, the Polar Sea is undergoing overhaul, with the other icebreaker being unable to handle the resupply mission on her own. Therefore, the US authorities turned to the Russian government for help, the Far-Eastern Marine Shipping Company says. The Russian and US icebreakers are slated to rendezvous in the Ross Sea between January 10 and 14, 2005. The link-up is to pave the way through ice for a tanker to get to McMurdo Station. The larger Krasin is to lead the way in making a channel through ice for the tanker to follow, with the leg from the edge of ice to the shore to span 470 nautical miles, the shipping company says. On February 1, the Russian and US icebreakers are to link up with the American Tern supply vessel carrying 10,000 tons of cargo. According to estimates, the Krasin's Antarctic mission will total 5-6 weeks, after which she is to head for home to start leading Arctic convoys through Russian waters in the northern sector of the Pacific in April 2005."

also from Novesti Russian news agency.

On December 17th The State Duma (lower house of the Russian parliament) hosted:

"A press conference was held with State Duma Vice Speaker Artur Chilingarov speaking on "the Air Antarctic Expedition" This was timed at (12.30pm)." No report yet on what he said!


20th DECEMBER, 2003


Jennifer Murray's helicopter is reported by ALE to have crashed near Patriot Hills. ALE's twin otter is on site. Both occupants have survived but have sustained injuries. A doctor from ALE is treating the patients who are to be evacuated by ALE to Patriot Hills. AN Ilyushin 76 jet aircraft is expected to depart Punta Arenas in a few hours timefor Patriot Hills to medevac the patients. Weather at Patriot Hills is currently holding.

Photos of the helicopter's earlier arrival at the South Pole can be seen here

21st December update-

Jenny Murray, 63, and Colin Bodill, 53, survived temperatures of minus 40 Celsius and high winds after their Bell 407 helicopter crashed in frozen wastes 120 miles north of Patriot Hills in very bad weather conditions.

Mrs Murray broke her arm, while Mr Bodill suffered chest injuries.  Despite the shock, cold and injuries, they managed to take shelter in the aircraft before venturing out to put up an emergency tent to keep warm while hoping they would be rescued. The signal from the  helicopter’s satellite distress beacon was picked up at RAF Kinloss in Scotland who at first alerted search and rescue on the Falkland Islands.

Mrs Murray and Mr Bodill were stranded at the crash site for several hours before the veteran polar Twin Otter pilot Karl Zberg of Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) flying a Twin Otter plane picked them up and flew them to the base at Patriot Hills. Weather conditions at Patriot Hills were not real flash with a significant cross wind component to contend with. The two injured persons were then flown to Punta Arenas in a  IL-76 aircraft under the command of Captain Rashit Saitov.  Both injured persons
are now reported as being in a stable condition.



1st December, 2003


We have created a page showing photos taken at the South pole this season kindly forwarded to us by Scott F. Smith. These can be seen here


14th November, 2003


The US Icebreaker/ research ship "Nathaniel B. Palmer" suffered serious damage a week ago in the Ross Sea and was stuck for some time in the ice 400 miles north of McMurdo. She has subsequently freed herself and is now limping on two of her four engines back to Lyttelton for major repairs which reportedly will require the removal of the two damaged engines by cutting holes in her main deck.


From Japan we learn that recently announced plans to replace their Icebreaker "Shirase" with a new vessel in the next few years have been shelved and there are now even doubts over the Japanese being funded to carry out any programmes for the 2004-05 season.


The joint French/Italian Base "Concordia" will be officially commissioned this season with the completion of the building of the main station complex. Errected on poles, this modern station is located on the Antarctic plateau and is supplied by aircraft from Tera Nova Bay and an annual overland traverse from Dumont D'Urville Base.


A Solar eclipse which is scheduled to happen over East Antarctica on the 23rd of November will be witnessed (hopefully) by a number of parties from various nations. Firstly several of the bases will experience a full or partial eclipse, two aircraft flights are being made (From Chile to the South Pole and by Qantas to AAT) and by the tourist icebreaker "Kapitan Khlebnikov" which has just departed Capetown.


After several medevacs in recent years, the US Antarctic program is planning to check more closely the health of intended South Pole over-winterers this season. Unofficially we hear that intending over-winterers will be required to undergo ultra sound testing for possible gall bladder misfunctions. Any sign of gallstones or what is called Gall Bladder Sludge will disqualify candidates for the winter and if any of the currently signed up over-winterers has any of these problems they may be required ultimately to have their gall bladder surgically removed.


With the new South Pole elevated station now in commission, many of the station functions have been transferred to the new building leaving some empty space in old Dome building. Some tidying up in the Dome has now happened with some of the buildings inside now being dismantled prior to reuse elsewhere or removal from the continent.


20th October, 2003


The massive B-15 Iceberg which broke off the Ross Ice shelf and grounded to the East of Ross Island causing a severe change in climate in the Ross Sea is now reported to have broken in half. Satellite photos show it has broken into two main parts approximately 80km and 40 km long. McMurdo shipping experts are keeping a close watch on the parts to see if this development will help or hinder this seasons Icebreaker attempt to break into McMurdo. As a contingency the US Antarctic program has ordered several extra miles of rubber hose. Last season's supply tanker was forced to anchor at the ice edge and transfer its fuel to McMurdo by hose over several km of ice and this season it is possible that an even longer fuel transfer will be necessary.


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Barry McCue, shown at left resting at home in Chicago with his daughter, was successfully medevaced from the South Pole Station by Twin Otter aircraft on September 21st. A blocked gallbladder which threatened to affect his pancreas meant the need for the medevac to be carried out despite the risks associated with operating an aircraft in such low temperatures.


The Russian tourist icebreaker "Kapitan Khlebnikov" which is the most powerful vessel operating tourist voyages in the Antarctic is to carry two New Zealand Helicopters this season. Previously operating old Russian helicopters the vessel is scheduled to take on board two New Zealand registered squirrel helicopters (ZK-HJB and ZK-HDR) when it calls at Capetown. These aircraft left Nelson, New Zealand in crates on the 4th of September bound for Port Elizabeth in South Africa.


News comes from Australia that approval has been given for this season's extensive Heard Island operations to have a special pictorial postmark as shown at right. This postmark will be a fixed date cancellation for the one day only (12 December 2003) to mark what is the biggest ever ANARE operations on the island which will operate between the 2nd of December 2003 and the 27th of February, 2004.

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28th September, 2003


The Tasmanian State Government has accepted advice and has decided to pull the plug on their support for the 3 year old "Antarctic Experience" Tourist attraction situated in downtown Hobart at Salamanca Place. The Attraction has failed to attract sufficient tourists to cover costs with the State Government now deciding that the valuable land could be put to better use. A similar attraction in Christchurch continues to prosper mainly because it is situated next door to the International Airport and a continual stream of tourists which the Tasmanian attraction is not able to do.

New Zealand & USA Research seasons to get underway Tuesday 30th September.

The first of the regular 2003-04 season flights to McMurdo commence later this week with both New Zealand and the USA programs having full schedule of events. Meanwhile news comes of a temporary grounding of US Air National Guard Hercules aircraft following a fire on a similar aircraft in Germany. All C-130 have been grounded until test can be done to confirm correct parts and pumps in the Fuel Cells. This may well mean a several day delay in plans to send the ski-equipped LC130 aircraft south and a consequent delay in the first flights to South Pole Station which is dependent on this type of aircraft.


14th September, 2003


Australia Post have just introduced new pictorial base postmarks to replace their old pictorial ones which have been in use for a number of years. It is also possible that a special postmark will be used this season on Heard Island as there are a large number of events taking place on the island this season.   The new confirmed postmarks and their designs are as follows;

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14th September, 2003


Currently a complicated series of flights are underway to rescue a sick Raytheon employee from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Because of low temperatures and lack of daylight the American South Pole Station is normally cut off until November but as the patients condition has worsened it has been decided to commence a medivac. On Friday 12th September two twin otter aircraft arrived in Punta Arenas from Canada to instigate the rescue. They will fly from there to the British Rothera Base for refueling before flying onto the South Pole. Provisional plans then call for one of the Twin Otters to fly the patient to McMurdo Base where he will be picked up there by a RNZAF Hercules and brought to Christchurch where he will be hospitalised. It is also possible depending on weather etc that the patient will be evacuated to Punta Arenas.


22nd August, 2003


The first Winfly flight for 2003 was delayed for one day by bad weather at McMurdo but finally took place on Thursday 21st when the C17 Globemaster piloted by Lieutenant Paul Groven of the 62nd Airlift Wing transported 137 New Zealanders and Americans along with 15,000 kg of cargo to McMurdo and safely returned.


19th August, 2003

USAF to start 2003 WINFLY flights on Wednesday 20th August 2003

Depending on weather the first "Winfly" (Winter fly In) flight for the new season will commence this Wednesday when a C17 Globemaster departs Christchurch for the McMurdo ice runway in Antarctica. The Winfly flights (Normally a series of about 5 flights) are used to take scientists south who need to start their research progams before the advent of summer. It also provides a chance to resupply the US Antarctic Base at McMurdo and the nearby New Zealand Scott Base.


News comes from Australia that the Australian fisheries protection vessel "Southern Supporter" is currently in persuit of  a Uruguayan flagged fishing vessel which is alleged to have been illegally fishing in waters around Heard Island to the far south of Australia. The Uruguayan vessel is reported to have tried to escape by heading towards the Antarctic ice pack with the "Southern Supporter" following.  It is understood that the South African vessel "Agulhas" which is equipped with a helicopter may now be heading towards the same area to assist the "Southern Supporter".




In an unexpected move the Chinese Antarctic Programme have decided that for the 2003-04 season (Chinare 19) they will not emply their vessel "Xue Long" but will instead send their expeditioneers to their stations either by aircraft (for Great Wall Station) and as part of the Australian expedition to the Zhong Shan Station. The Zhong Shan exchange crew will travel along with the Australians most likely on board the "Vasiliy Golovnin".  Neither station will be operating post offices this season as the facillities for these and the Postmaster himself are transported on board the "Xue Long".

For the 2004-05 season however "CHINARE XX" it appears that a special effort is being planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary with China Central Television with China Science Expedition Association help, producing a television programme from Zhong Shan Station which will link various other bases around the Antarctic for a live broadcast back to China.


In another even more unexpected move, Anne Kershaw, the departing owner/operator of Adventure Network International announced on July 24th that the company had decided that it would not operate at all in the Antarctic during the 2003-04 season. Their plans for 2004-05 season are still being decided but the lack of ANI aircraft for this next season will severely curtail all private expeditions in antarctica as most of them use ANI either for basic transport or at least as an emergency rescue back-up.


4TH JULY 2003


The Australian Antarctic Division has chartered the Russian  Ice Class vessel "Vasiliy Golovnin" for the 2003-2004 season to assist their "Aurora Australis" in resupplying their Antarctic Bases. built in 1988 the vessel is operated by the well known Vladivostok based FESCO shipping company.

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The Australian tourist expedition vessel "Sir Hubert Wilkins" has finally been sold after being on the market for over a year. Operated by "Ocean Frontiers" and owned by Antarctic veterans Don and Margie McIntyre the vessel made a number of trips to the AAT and the Ross Sea but proved both uneconomical and relatively unstable in the Southern Ocean.


18TH MAY 2003


Well known Australian author Thomas Keneally is returning a biscuit he stole from Scott's Hutt in 1968. Back in those days it was common practice for visitors to the hut to 'souvenir' a biscuit or something similar but in recent years the Huntly & Palmers hardtack biscuit and its theft had been knawing at Keneally's conscience and so he recently decided to return it.

Accordingly Keneally booked a voyage on the ice breaker "Kapitan Khlebnikov" which in February this year was scheduled to call on Scott's Hut on Ross Island to enable himself to return his souvenir. However in a strange quirk of fate when he arrived in Lyttelton to board the vessel he realised that he had forgotten to pack the biscuit. When he eventually arrived at the hut he found that the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust had a restoration team working there and he took courage and admitted to their leader (and the executive director of the Heritage Trust) Nigel Watson about his biscuit theft of many years ago. Rather than arresting Keneally on the spot Nigel Watson calmly arranged for Keaneally to return the biscuit to the trust after he had returned home and now that this has been done Keneally says that he now feels absolved.

In recent years many such items have been returned.


12 May, 2003

The New Zealand Government announced recently that a new field store was to be built at Scott Base next summer. The two storey 1800 square metre building which will be the largest building constructed at Scott Base since 1956 will be heated throughout unlike the current ex aircraft hanger store built in 1960 which was constantly frozen.

Sad news came today with the death anounced of Rev. Father John Coleman.  John who was the Catholic priest at Sumner's "Star of the Sea" church in Christchurch was for many years right up until 2002 the person responsible for organising the rota of 4 ministers who served at the "Chapel of the Snows" Church in McMurdo each season. John himself had served as minister at McMurdo many times over the past 20 years and was a keen member of the New Zealand Antarctic Society and a good Antarctic photographer. He was responsible for many Antarctic calendars.


17 April, 2003

New Christchurch City Art Gallery to feature Antarctic Art.

May 2003 sees the fruition of 60 years planning with the opening of a stunning new Art Gallery in the heart of Christchurch called "Te Puna o Waiwhetu". The gallery will open May 10th and amongst other attractions will be a special Antarctic Gallery sponsored by Tait Electronics. More details can be seen on the Gallery's own web page here

25 January, 2003

The American Antarctic program has finally replaced their  increasingly unreliable supply vessel "Green Wave" with a new vessel. The "American Tern" was built in Germany 1990 to Finnish Ice class 1A specifications and has a 50% greater carrying capacity than "Green Wave". The vessel is operated by American Automar which has a contract with the American Military Sealife Command which provides the cargo capacity for the US Antarctic Program. This contract which extends until 2010 will see the vessel make an annual trip to McMurdo. We have a page showing photos etc of the new vessel here

30th December, 2002.


The first South Pole Trekers for the season arrived at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station on Sunday 29th December at 9.15am local time (New Zealand time). The 4 man party is the British Centenary Expedition. The team set off from Hercules Inlet in the Chilean Antarctic in mid-November and  used parasail to aid their progress. According to South Pole reports the team arrived fit and well and in good spirits despite some minor frostbite.

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The four member team of Patrick Woodhead, Tom Avery (Both British), Andrew Gerber (South African) and Paul Landry (Canadian) at the South Pole.

Above photo by Scott F. Smith

Sunday the 29th December also saw the annual ceremony  marking the moving of the South Pole marker. Because the ice cap is constantly moving over the actual pole, the marker in the ice has to be moved each year. This year Scott F. Smith a long time "Polie" was the honoured person chosen to enact the shift.

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Above photo by Vladimir Papitashvili

Xmas Day 2002 saw the annual "Around the World" foot race run at the South Pole with the prize being a certificate and the right to buy a "Around the world" t-shirt. As usual a variety of transport techniques were used ranging from the foot runner to the motorised.

The start of the foot race is shown at right.

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Above photo by Scott F. Smith

16th December, 2002.


The Radisson Seven Seas cruise liner "Hanseatic" has suffered considerable damage during her recent Southern Ocean cruise to Antarctica south of New Zealand. The 8,378 tons vessel has the highest posible (1A1 Super) ice rating for a cruise liner. It is understood that the vessel had deck equipment including a radar dome swept away by a rogue wave which also broke the bridge window as shown at right.

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  The "Hanseatic" which was scheduled to berth in Bluff but has instead been diverted to Lyttelton arriving Monday 15th December for urgent repairs. At this stage she is expected to remain in Lyttelton until the 21st of December. Her next scheduled cruise starts from Ushuaia on January 15th 2003 going to the Antarctic Peninsula

9th December 2002


The Chinese Antarctic support vessel/Icebreaker "Xue Long" arrived in Lyttelton yesterday for a 4 day stay to load supplies and personnel before departing for China's  Great Wall and Zhong Shan Antarctic Bases. The vessel will not return home to Shanghai until early April next year. While in Lyttelton the chance was taken to exchange greetings and notes with the US Icebreaker/Research vessel "Nathaniel B Palmer" which had recently arrived from South America on her way to the Ross Sea and McMurdo for Antarctic research. The "Nathaniel B Palmer" will be based again at Lyttelton for the most of the next year after several months spent in the Antarctic Peninsula area.

1st December 2002


The international conservation organisation "Sea Sheppard" was formed in 1977 when a group of ex Greenpeace people wanting more direct action split away from Greenpeace. The group has a vessel called "Farley Mowat" (Originally a Norwegian fishing vessel) and now registered in Canada which is currently in Auckland . The "Farley Mowat" has a crew of 40 with Captain Paul Watson who has indicated that the vessel will leave for Antarctic waters in about 1 weeks time to search for the Japanese Whaling fleet which has been reported as headed for the Ross Sea.  NZ Police and customs  last week inspected the vessel after a report that it carried explosives on board as well as being fitted with torpedoes. In actual fact the vessel had a large plastic imitation torpedo on board and no explosives so it has been given a clearance.  Co-incidentally the Japanese Whaling research ship Shonan Maru no 2 is in Hobart for legitimate whale research sponsored by the International Whaling Commission.

14 December, 2002 update. The "Farley Mowat" is now at Hobart her last port of call before heading for the Southern Ocean

29th November 2002

Sir Hubert Wilkins chartered for Antarctic expedition.

The Hobart based  expedition vessel "Sir Hubert Wilkins" will depart Hobart on  December 1st, 2002 for a previously un-announced charter voyage to Cape Adare and the Ross Sea. We understand the vessel has been chartered by Television New Zealand for a upcoming "Wild South" documentary series.  The Dunedin based film makers have an enviable record in producing award winning wildlife documentaries. The expedition is expected to return to Hobart about the 8th of February 2003.

27th November 2002

The "Kapitan Khlebnikov"   departed Lyttelton today commencing a long tourist trip circumnavigating the Antarctic continent in a westerly direction returning to Lyttelton in early February 2003. Apart from a ship to ship transfer of passengers with the vessel "Professor Multanovskiy" at Deception Island, the vessel will only call at Antarctic bases over the next 2 months until it returns to Lyttelton.

19th November 2002

We understand that Adventure Networks International's Basler DC3 aircraft has been severely damaged if not wrecked in a storm at Patriot hills recently when its tethering came adrift and the aircraft is now left in pieces on the ground.

This unusual turbo-prop DC3 on skis has been the mainstay in recent years for ANI's transport of groups between Patriot Hiills and their two main tourist destinations of the South Pole and and the Vinson Masiff climbing region.

BaslerDC3atSP.jpg (24518 bytes) It is likely that the loss of this aircraft (shown above at the South Pole in 2000 will severely affect current ANI plans. Further Basler photos can be seen here.

6th July 2002


Recent reports that tests taken in the stables of Scott's hut on Ross island showed traces of Anthrax have now proved to be false. Final results show various minor viruses attributable to the Manchurian ponies that Scott used but no positives for anthrax. It has now been decided to reopen the huts to visitors. It is also expected that further tests will be done this season at other historic huts in the Antarctic.


News comes from her German owners that the "Magdalena Oldendorf" will now remain stuck in the Antarctic ice for the rest of the season (until November) as attempts to free her by the Argentine icebreaker "Almirante Irizar" appear to have failed. The Argentine Icebreaker evidently will still try to free itself but it seems likely that both vessels will have to remain until summer unless an unseasonal break in the weather happens.

14th March 2002

As the 2001-2002 Antarctic season winds down we can report that the Chinese Antarctic Programme are planning an increased spending on Antarctic activities in future, the Australians are planning to fly most of their Antarctic Expeditioneers to the continent by 2005 and the Americans have certified a white-ice runway at McMurdo which in future seasons should allow greater use of wheeled aircraft on the main Christchurch to McMurdo route freeing up their ski-equipped Hercules aircraft for intra-Antarctic flying tasks.

15th February 2002


The Princess Royal, Princess Anne completed her visits to the Antarctic and Christchurch on schedule. The following two photos were taken in Christchurch on February 11th. We also offer collectors covers from the two Antarctic bases she visited: Scott Base and the nearby Italian Terra Nova Bay. New Zealand Post did not use a special postmark but mail from both bases had special visit cachets applied by NZ Post as it passed through Christchurch. We also hope to shortly have available  official Antarctic Heritage Trust envelopes for the Historic Huts preservation campaign.

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Princess Anne speaking to Reverend Father John Coleman while the Christchurch Mayor, Garry Moore and the Mayoress look on.

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The wreath placed on the Scott Statue in Christchurch by Princess Anne on the 11th February 2002.

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Princess Anne visit to Scott Base cover with special visit cachet in red. Price US$3

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Princess Anne visit to Italian Terra Nova Bay cover. Green visit cachet.  Price US$3

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9th FEBRUARY 2002


The Princess Royal, Princess Anne flew by RNZAF Hercules aircraft from Christchurch to the Ross Dependency arriving on Thursday 7th February after a "Boomerang" flight the previous day. The Princess who is staying at Scott Base has visited various historic huts in the area as well as the nearby American McMurdo Base and the Italian Base at Terra Nova Bay. She was scheduled to attend a special anniversary meal at Scott Base this evening to celebrate the centenary of the First British Antarctic Expedition of Captain Robert F. Scott arriving in the antarctic as well as a special church service in the Chapel of the Snows before returning to Christchurch on Sunday weather permitting.

In Christchurch she is scheduled to place a wreath on the famous Scott Statue in Worcester Boulevard before attending a Civic function in the Canterbury Museums' Antarctic wing on Monday 11th February.

20th JANUARY, 2002


The Russian icebreaker "Kapitan Khlebnikov" departed Lyttelton this afternoon for her final Antarctic cruise this season. She is scheduled to visit the Ross Sea including hopefully visits to McMurdo (American), Scott (NZ) and Terra Nova (Italian) Antarctic Bases as well as other historic sites in the area before arriving at Hobart after a call at Macquarie Island on the way north.


A Japanese Oceanographic expedition will take place next month South of Australia along the 140 E Longitude between Hobart and the Antarctic mainland.  The "Tangaroa" will depart Hobart on the 5th February and return there on the 16th of March. The expedition will be engaged in water sampling.

18th JANUARY, 2002


Bad weather at McMurdo and on the Antarctic Continent has stranded two US Hercules and a British Antarctic Survey twin Otter aircraft at the South Pole while they wait for the weather to improve. Photos of the stranded aircraft at the South Pole can be seen on our South Pole photos page here

12th JANUARY, 2002


The Russian VIP party stuck at the South Pole on the 8th of January by the breakdown of their aircraft has been evacuated from the Continent. The Russian part of the Antonov-3 compliment has been flown via McMurdo Base to Christchurch by the USAF while the tourist compliment has been flown from the South Pole by a ANI DC-3 aircraft to Patriot Hills and from there they will go to Punta Arenas. More photos of the expedition showing the Antonov-3 being stored for the winter at the South Pole, the arrival of the DC-3 aircraft and the Russian party on arrival in Christchurch can be seen here

10th JANUARY, 2002


The Australian antarctic supply vessel "Polar bird" which has been stuck in the pack ice near the AAT Mawson Base since before Christmas has had its compliment of scientists and expeditioneers taken off it by helicopter and flown to the Australian icebreaker "Aurora Australis" as there seems little immediate hope of freeing the vessel from the ice. For several days the "Aurora Australis" has tried to rescue the "Polar Bird" but has been prevented doing so by the 10/10th's pack ice. The "Polar Birds" crew has remained on board and it is hoped that a weather change will enable the vessel to be freed when the "Aurora Australis" returns to the area in a few days time.

American Coast Guard vessels open up McMURDO.

The USCG Cutter "Polar Sea" has succeeded in cutting a passage into McMurdo Sound arriving on January 6th. Along with her sister ship the "Polar Star",  the two vessels will escort supply ships, a tanker and several tourist vessels into the McMurdo ice wharf this month. One of the ice breakers first jobs on arriving was the annual McMurdo Sound cruise for McMurdo base staff which is the highlight of the working season for many of the staff at McMurdo.


A VIP visit to the South Pole has resulted in the stranding of the vice-President of the Russian Duma at the South Pole as the Russian Antonov 3 ski plane has broken down with serious mechanical problems. The 14 persons from the Antonov are being looked after at the south pole by the Americans as plans are being considered for the flying out of the VIP party.  Photos of the aircrafts arrival at the South Pole and the Russian VIP party can be seen here

26th DECEMBER, 2001


Christmas Day saw the arrival at the South Pole of the 7 person "Ski the Last Degree" expedition. These people skied the last 60 miles to the South Pole after having been dropped off at  89 degree South point by an adventure network aircraft. Photos of this expedition, a recent visit by a Chinese film crew to the South Pole and the annual South Pole "Around the World" race can be seen by clicking here


Following a severe storm just over a week ago, the McMurdo area has been enjoying warmer and sunnier weather than usual with temperatures above freezing experienced. Photos of Williams Field (The airfield at McMurdo) after the big snow dump can be seen here


The Australian chartered Antarctic Supply vessel "Polar Bird" has now been stuck in the Antarctic ice pack not far from Mawson base for the past 2 weeks. It is surrounded by 10/10 ice coverage and has been conserving fuel by only running its main engines every so often to help relieve pressure on the vessels hull as it awaits for the weather to improve and rescue to be made.   The delay has caused following "Polar Bird" voyages  to be rescheduled.


Current economic woes have been reflected in the Argentine decision not to open all their bases this season. A recent visit of the tourist expedition vessel "Polar Star" has confirmed the regular Almirante Brown Base is amongst those affected with the "closed" sign on the door.

19th DECEMBER, 2001


The regular Italian Antarctic supply vessel "Italica" arrived in Lyttelton yesterday (December 18th) as its last port of call before heading for the Italian Antarctic Base at Terra Nova Bay.  She is expected to depart on December 23rd.


The American Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names announced on Thanksgiving Day 2001 a further 7 Antarctic Veterans who have had Antarctic places named in their honour. Those announced by Julie Palais the NSF Science representitive South Pole Antarctic Glagiology Program Manager and a member on the Advisory committee were;

Walker Cirque 79o32'S, 156o31'E.   A prominent glacier-filled cirque at the W side of the terminus of  McCleary Glacier in Cook Mountains. The cirque opens to Darwin Glacier near the head. Named after Carlton Walker, Facilities, Maintenance and Construction Supervisor at South Pole Station during USAP South Pole Station Modernization.

Grant Valley 79o58'S, 156o25'E.    A valley between Communication Heights and Mount Ash in the Darwin Mountains. A lobe of ice from Hatherton Glacier occupies the mouth of the valley. Named after Bettie Kathryn (B.K.) Grant, Information Systems Supervisor at South Pole Station. She made 11 deployments to Antarctica, 1990-2001, the last 10 to South Pole Station where she wintered, 1993.

Conant Valley 79o57'S, 156o03'E.   A valley between Duncan Bluff and Communication Heights in the S part of Darwin Mountains. The valley mouth opens to Hatherton Glacier. Named after Neil Conant, communications operator in support of the USAP in 15 austral summers, 1984-2001; three summers were at Siple Station in the 1980's, the remainder at South Pole Station.

Marty Nunataks 80o07'S, 155o13'E.   A group comprising about six nunataks in the W part of the Britania Range. The group lies midway between Haven Mountains and Vantage Hill and extends E-W for 7.5 miles. The nunataks rise to over 2000 m; local relief is on the order of 200 m. Named after Jerry W. Marty, involved in Antarctica from 1969, first as a construction worker at the South Pole Station; from 1995, engaged in on-site contract support to the Office of Polar Programs, NSF, as Construction/Operations and Maintenance Coordinator for South Pole Station Modernization.

Jensen Rampart 78o52'S, 160o35'E.    Steep rock cliffs that rise to 1600 m at the SW edge of Worcester Range. The cliffs are 6 mi W of Mount Speyer and overlook the N side of Mulock Glacier. Named after Kate Jensen, NOAA field team leader at South Pole Station winter party, 1993 and 1995; ASA Winter Site Manager at the Station, 1998; with Raytheon as South Pole Area Manager, 2001.

Marks Mount 78o47'S, 160o35'E.   A broad ice-covered mountain rising to 2600 m 5 mi. NNW of Mount Speyer in Worcester Range. Named after Rodney Marks (1968-2000), an Australian citizen who died while conducting astrophysical research as a member of the 2000 winter party at the South Pole Station. He was employed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, working on the Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory, a research project of the University of Chicago's Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA). He previously had spent the 1998 winter at the Pole as part of CARA's South Pole Infrared Explorer project

Harper Ridge 79o09'S, 156o57'E.   A nearly ice-free ridge, 2 mi long and rising to over 1800 m. It extends N from the central part of Finger Ridges, Cook Mountains, toward Yamagata Ridge. Named after Doyal A. Harper of the University of Chicago, Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, WI, director of the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica at South Pole Station for several years from 1991.


Yet more 2001-2002 photos have been added to our South Pole pictorial page which can be seen here

2nd DECEMBER, 2001


We have added more new photos to our South Pole page including photos of the first tourist flight to the Geographic South Pole by Adventure Network International which arrived there earlier today. You can see these photos by clicking  here


News comes from Australia that the planned Japanese television sponsored expedition to Mt Erebus in the Ross Dependency has been cancelled because the ship owners could not attract enough other passengers for the voyage. The thick ice in the Ross Sea may also have influenced this decision as it appears likely that the vessel would have experienced considerable difficulty with the heavy ice in the Ross Sea.

21st NOVEMBER, 2001


Recently confirmation has come that the US National Science Foundation has requested the second "Polar Class" icebreaker "Polar Sea" joins her sister ship "Polar Star" in the annual ice break-in to McMurdo Sound. Normally only a single icebreaker is needed but this season the ice is a lot more extensive. This is the first time that both "Polar Class" icebreakers have been scheduled to be employed together for this task.


While digging out ice for the new Pole station at the South Pole, workers have discovered an old parachute dating back to the original 1956-57 period when the South Pole station was first established. The well preserved and colourfull cargo parachute has stamped-on manufacture info indicating its origins.   A photo of part of this parachute can be seen on our "Recent South Pole Photos" page here


Christchurch's International Antarctic Centre has commenced a new attraction for visitors. A 3 hour chance to get to know a genuine Antarctic veteran. Three distinguished OAE's in Bill Cranfield, David Harrowfield and Allan Guard are acting as guides for "The Old Antarctic Explorers Tour" which includes a visit through the Antarctic Centre, a lunch with the explorers and a ride in a Antarctic Hagglund. The three Explorers are shown at right.

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As reported last month, the Italian Antarctic Programme have this season not used the Italian Air Force for its logistic air support but have instead chartered the private South African Company SAFAIR to provide flights from Christchurch to both Terra Nova Bay (where the main Italian Base is located ) and to McMurdo Sound.

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Shown at left is one of the two SAFAIR Hercules crews along with Navigation Planner Loius Cronje at right. SAFAIR use a four person crew to fly their civilian L382-G type Hercules. This series of flights is the first time that SAFAIR aircraft have been used on this side of the Antarctic, the first time SAFAIR aircraft have landed on sea-ice and the  first time that a SAFAIR aircraft has over-nighted in the Antarctic.

7th NOVEMBER, 2001


German sources advise that in a Joint European Move the German icebreaker "Polarstern" is now to be based in Capetown to concentrate on Antarctic work while a new European Community vessel will be built to cover the Arctic duties previously undertaken by 'Polarstern'.  Intentions are that 'Polarstern' will now also operate in Southern Ocean Antarctic areas south of New Zealand and Australia. The two yearly German Ganovex programs based in Victoria land in the Ross Dependency look a likely focus of these operations. 'Polarstern' will in future only retun to Germany about once every 5 years for major overhauls. It is also expected that the Post Office currently operating on board the vessel will be dis-established in 2002.


The Lyttelton Port company will celebrate their long involvement with Antarctic shipping with the use next month of a pictorial meter celebrating the "Centenary of the First British Antarctic Expedition" which saw Captain R.F. Scotts' vessel "Discovery" depart Lyttelton on the 21st December, 1901.

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Lyttelton continues to host Antarctic bound vessels with several departures scheduled this season.

4th NOVEMBER, 2001


We have added a new page for photos received from the South Pole this season. the first of these showing the arrival of the first hercules aircraft in many months are now available here.

3rd NOVEMBER, 2001


A donation of about NZ $2,500 is to be made to the Magnetic Observatory Museum which is being established in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The museum is being established in an old worshop building which was part of the Magnetic Observatory established for the 1901-04 British Antarctic Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott.  The team of 200 Americans overwintering at McMurdo Station in Antarctica chose the project for a charity cause. The money was raised by the raffle at $5 a ticket of a large quilt made for the 2001 Art Show at McMurdo Station according to a organiser Caprice Stevenson in a report today in a local Christchurch Newspaper.


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The 50 foot steel ketch "Gambo", shown at left departed Lyttelton early on November 1st at the start of a 2 year Antarctic Expedition.

The "Science at the Extreme" Expedition is led by Englishman Alun Hubbard who has during 2001 worked at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch while preparing his yacht for the harzardous adventure along with friend Peter Taylor.

Ist NOVEMBER, 2001


Recent reports from McMurdo Base (see "The Antarctic Sun") indicate that this season the ice in both the Ross Ice Shelf area and in the area around the Antarctic Peninsula is far thicker than in previous seasons.  the sea ice this year is reported to be 40% thicker than last year with the sea ice at McMurdo measuring 3 meters thick. Normally when the annual icebreaker visit happens in December the vessel needs to cut a channel of around  15 to 20 miles to reach McMurdo from the open sea but it looks like this year the icebreaker may have to cut its way through 70 miles of ice.

At McMurdo speculation is that the nearby presence of a grounded giant iceberg may be affecting the local climate and causing the much colder than normal ocean temperatures. The extremely large iceberg B-15 extends down into the sea some 1,000 feet and is effectively blocking the circulation of water through McMurdo Sound.

Currently contingency plans are being made in case more than a single icebreaker is needed to open up McMurdo Base for its annual important tanker and supply ship visits scheduled for January. It is possible that the "Polar Sea" which is scheduled to be in the Weddell Sea area assisting a private film company searching for Shackletons' sunken "Endurance" may be diverted to assist her sister ship "Polar Star" and it is also possible that the newer and more powerfull icebreaker "Healey" could be employed in the Antarctic for the first time.  The "Polar star" is currently scheduled to start breaking Antarctic sea ice on December 28th.


Weather has also played its part in the Australian Antarctic Support schedule with the new Australian Royal Navy hydrological vessel "Melville" having to abandon its scheduled voyage to MacQuarie island and to return to Hobart because of extremely bad weather according to the vessel's commander J.W. Maschke. This voyage was the first of ANARE's annual supply trips.

26th OCTOBER, 2001


We have heard from the South Pole that the Amundsen-Scott Station has suddenly experienced a rapid population growth as the first two Hercules LC130 aircraft arrived yesterday. The third scheduled flight for the day was postphoned as weather conditions deteriorated but the over-winterers are having to adjust to a few strange faces around the place now.

25th OCTOBER, 2001


The US Icebreaker "Nathaniel B Palmer" is reported by Antarctic sources to have now freed itself from its icy predicament and aided by a good SE wind it made a successful dash for the ice edge. It is making for Punta Arenas which it will now arrive at only a few days later than originally scheduled.


The first flights from McMurdo to Amundsen-Scott South Pole station were scheduled for Monday 22nd of October. However bad weather en-route have delayed the flights with several days delay now still holding up the opening of the South Pole season where South Polies are still looking forward to their first fresh food, mail and other supplies in several months.


Over the past few months the French Post Office has used at least 4 different postmarks with an Antarctic theme. We show three on them below. The fourth is a pictorial postmark used at Paris on the 20th October to commemorate the 20th anniversary of CCAMLR, featuring a Antarctic Toothfish and the logo of the CCAMLR. For collectors wishing to obtain examples of these four postmarks Shades Stamp Shop Ltd  can supply them at US$3 each or US$10 for all four.

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AntarcticTreaty 40th Anniversary postmark - Paris Ordinary postmark

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AntarcticTreaty 40th Anniversary postmark - Paris Pictorial Postmark

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"Passion Polaire" Philatelic Exhibition - Metz Pictorial Postmark

23rd OCTOBER, 2001


Yesterday the first of the new seasons flights was scheduled to fly from McMurdo to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to bring to an end several months of isolation. Three ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules aircraft of the New York Air National Guard were to fly as a group to provide support to each other in case of an emergency.

"Nathaniel B Palmer" still stuck in ice.

We have learnt that the US icebreaker "Nathaniel B Palmer" is still stuck in the ice between Adelaide and Alexander Islands but is in no immediate danger. The vessel has extensive supplies on board and is designed to spend months at a time icebound and so the event is more annoying than dangerous.


In the wake of the Terrorist bombings and anthrax letter threats, the United States Antarctic Program's mail service is taking a much harder look at mail passing through its hands. A new  requirement is that all mail (including philatelic mail) must have a senders return address on the top left of the envelope or else it  will be treated as suspicious and it will not be forwarded to Antarctica. All mail posted in the Antarctic must similarly have a return address although it is not clear if this should be the Antarctic senders address or the original senders return address.

Antarctic Explorer  to participate in adventure race in New Zealand.

British Polar Explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes is to tackle the "Southern Traverse" adventure race in New Zealand this November.  Sir Ranulph suffered a badly frostbitten hand during a solo walk to the North Pole last year and this race represents his first outing since then.   He and  3 other British members in Team Alstrom will start the Southern Traverse event on November 12th near Queenstown. The event will take competitors through the alpine terrain of the Southern Lakes region of the South Island.


18th OCTOBER, 2001


News comes today that the American research icebreaker "Nathaniel B Palmer" is stuck fast in the ice near the Antarctic Peninsula. The ship is about 60 miles from the ice edge and wedged between Adelaide and Alexander Islands with rafts of sea ice 65 feet deep around it.

Last week after the ice science camp was called back into the ship by radio, they watched as the entire camp was swallowed by the rafting ice. The ship is hoping on getting a powerful wind from the South East to help them in their predicament as they are scheduled to arrive in Punta's Arenas, Chile on October 19th.

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"Nathaniel B Palmer" in the ice.


The 18th Chinese National Antarctic expedition will see the expedition vessel "Xue Long"  depart Shanghai on 15th November and arrive in Lyttelton (Christchurch) on 3rd December. After a short stay "Xue Long" will sail for the Antarctic Peninsula and is expected at the Great Wall Station on 20th December and then at Zhong Shan Station on 15th January arriving back in Shanghai on 25th February after making a call into Perth on its way home having circumnavigated the Antarctic continent.


The US Antarctic Program will be short of a series of C-17 Globemaster flights from Christchurch to McMurdo Sound this season with the cargo capacity being required for military purposes in the Middle East. A single C-17 flight will carry more cargo than 4 C-141 Starlifter flights so the lack of C-17 flights will be a serious handicap to the season which is in its critical period when the ice runway can be used.

14th OCTOBER, 2001


After previous failed attempts to arrange visits to Antarctica by members of the British Royal family comes news that Princess Anne will be visiting Scott Base and McMurdo Station in January 2002 in her capacity of Patron of the United Kingdom based Antarctic Heritage Trust. The visit is timed to coincide with commemorations for the centenary of Captain Robert Scott's Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904 and will include visits by the royal party to historic huts in the area.


The Italian Antarctic Program has decided this season to charter a South African based Hercules aircraft for their Christchurch to Terra Nova Bay and Christchurch to McMurdo Sound flights rather than use an aircraft of the Italian Air Force. In the past the reasonably new Italian Air Force Hercules aircraft have proved rather unreliable operating over this route which requires specialist skills which the Italian antarctic Program believes the South African company can provide. The first South African flights are scheduled for later this month.

8th OCTOBER, 2001


We have today added a page offering recent Antarctic publications . This includes two Philatelic books and a new book about Antarctic Aviation. The web page can be seen by clicking here

7th OCTOBER, 2001


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The above set of 6 penguin stamps which will be issued by New Zealand Post in early November feature views of 6 different penguin species found around the New Zealand coastline. New Zealand is home to more different penguin species than any other country with many rookeries found around the South Island and off-shore islands to the South. An interesting aspect of the above set is that the design of the 80 cent stamp supposedly showing a little blue penguin in error actually shows the closely related (but differently marked) white flippered penguin.   We can offer customers sets of this stamp set either mint or used or on first day cover as well as a similar set of 6 penguin stamps (Showing species found in the Antarctic) being issued by Ross Dependency on the same day. To see illustrations of the Ross Dependency designs click here


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New Zealand Post will use the above pictorial postmark on the 21st of December, 2001  to mark the departure of Scott's vessel "Discovery"from Lyttelton bound for the Antarctic on his first Antarctic Expedition. 

Collectors wishing to obtain this postmark on their mail for that day can write either to New Zealand Post, Cathedral Square, Christchurch or if you wish to have the cancellation applied to one of the above penguin stamps on a special "Discovery" postcard then place an order with us by email (click here) Price US$2 each.

20th SEPTEMBER, 2001


This week a new Christchurch based Antarctic links website has gone on line. It is called "Canterbury Antarctic Link" and is supported by the Christchurch City Council, Banks Peninsula District Council, Christchurch and Canterbury Marketing, and the Canterbury Development Corporation. The site provides a link to a myriad of Christchurch based Antarctic related businesses, tourist attractions and other Antarctic resources including links to web based Antarctic sites.

The site can be found at

19th SEPTEMBER, 2001


It was announced today that well known Christchurch Scientist Dr Margaret Bradshaw has been honoured by having the International Antarctic Centre's new (second) all-terrain tourist Haaglund named after her. The $5000,000 Hagglund will join the previous Hagglund, named for Sir Edmund Hilliary, carrying tourists around the Antarctic Centre. Dr Bradshaw has led many Antarctic expeditions including a well publicised one to retrieve Antarctic meteorites. She is the current president of the New Zealand Antarctic Society and has also recently acted as a lecturer on Antarctic cruise vessels.

27th JULY, 2001


At the current meeting of the Antarctic Treaty members in St. Petersburg, Russia a long awaited breakthrough was made with the decision to establish the first permanent secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty System at Buenos Aires in Argentina.  This will lead to the establishment of a permanent headquarters there for the treaty members which will see most future meetings of the organisation being held there.


News came yesterday that the New Zealand Department of Conservation have completed their ambitious campaign to rid   sub-Antarctic Campbell Island of its Norwegian rat population. The campaign intended to take 3 months has been completed in less than one month owing to suitable helicopter flying weather and the efforts of the Southland based team. Follow ups will be done for the next two years to make sure the island is predator free before attempts are made to re-introduce previously endemic endangered wildlife species.

IST JUNE, 2001


The Christchurch Antarctic Centre yesterday announced that its Hagglund ride using a gwenuine Antarctic Hagglund has proved so popular in its first year that a second Hagglund vehicle was being added and the adventure course part of the tour was being extended including the addition of a mock crevasse for the vehicles to traverse. In the past year more than 40,000 people have taken a Hagglund ride which apart from the adventure course includes visits to several Antarctic facilities.

To see photos of the Hagglund and covers carried on its very first trip click here

26th APRIL, 2001


The RNZAF C-130 Hercules yesterday completed its medevac by bringing back to Christchurch 11 US personnel from McMurdo station. Four of these were for medical reasons and the other 7 for personal reasons. The flight had been delayed for 1 day due to weather conditions at McMurdo.

Meanwhile the South Pole medevac by twin otter aircraft has gone ahead with one of the aircraft currently at the South Pole due to return to Rothera Base after a 12 hour wait for refueling and rest for the flight crew. We have dramatic photos of the Twin Otter aircraft at the South Pole here

21ST APRIL, 2001


It was announced that the planned South Pole Medevac for Doctor Shemenski has now been put on hold as the medical condition of Dr Shemeniski has improved. Earlier plans for a medevac from the South Pole through Christchurch using USAF ski equipped Hercules were changed as temperatures dropped to a 2 plane Twin Otter medevac from Punta Arenas via Rothera Base. Bad weather in Punta Atrenas and on the flight path had held up these plans and with the improvements to Dr Shemenski these plans have now been put on hold.

Meanwhile it has been announced in Christchurch that the RNZAF will attempt a Medevac from McMurdo on Monday 23rd April of 5 American personnel needing medical treatment in Christchurch. A RNZAF Hercules will leave Christchurch before dawn and arrive at McMurdo at 1pm during the short 1 hour of daylight gtime before returning immediately to Christchurch with the 5 American personnel.

13th APRIL, 2001


It was announced today that the US National Science Foundation have requested that the USAF Air National Guard make plans for a possible medevac of the current South Pole Station doctor who is suffering from Pancreatitis.  Dr Ronald Shemenski (59) will be evacuated by LC130 aircraft if possible in the next few days as soon as the aircraft have arrived from their base in Scotia, New York.

25th FEBRUARY, 2001


Yesterday the two man Norwegian South Pole team arrived in Bluff, New Zealand  at the end of their controversial trans-Antarctic expedition. Originally only authorised to trek from the Norwegian Troll station to the South Pole and return, Sonneland and Bae surprised everyone by continuing on to Ross Island to cross the entire Antarctic continent unaided. We have added more photos of the expedition to our web page here and expect to shortly add more photos showing their arrival in Bluff on board the "Akademik Shokalksiy".  Bae and Sonneland were collected from Bluff by Klaus Arne Pedersen of the Antarctic Protection Society who is hosting the two Norwegians during their Christchurch stay. They are expected to leave Christchurch on 28th February and arrive home in Stavanger on March Ist to a welcome from friends and family.

Yesterday was also the scheduled last day for flights between McMurdo and Christchurch by Operation Deep Freeze.

20th FEBRUARY, 2001


In an announcement on their "Your Expedition" website we learn that Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen were picked up at 10am local time today by the "Sir Hubert Wilkin's" helicopter and flown the short distance to the ship. 
The "Sir Hubert Wilkins" will arrive in Hobart early next week.

Meanwhile, the "Akademik Shokalskiy" will arrive in Bluff at the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand on Saturday 24th February with the two Norwegian trans-Antarctic trekkers Rolf Bae and Eirik Sonneland on board.  This pair
had arrived at Scott Base 2 weeks earlier than Bancroft and Arnesen having completed their trek all the way from Troll Station unaided.  Hastily made arrangements saw the "Akademik Shokalskiy" use its new ATV (all terrain vehicle) to travel some 80 km over the ice from the vessel to pick up the guys near Scott Base and then return 80km with them to the vessel. After spending a few days in Christchurch the 2 Norwegians will fly home to a welcome in Stavanger on the 28th of February.

7th FEBRUARY, 2001

We have added a page showing the Dutch vessel "Archangelgracht" which has been chartered by the American National Science Foundation to act as their second Antarctic supply vessel for 2001. The A-1 class ice strengthened hull vessel will depart Lyttelton on Friday 9th February, 2001 bound for McMurdo where she will off load a large cargo of containers and backload empty containers for Lyttelton. This page with some nice photos can be seen by clicking here

We have also added a page showing photos and two envelopes we have for sale from the Malaysian Antarctic Program currently operating in the Ross Sea area in association with Antarctica New Zealand. This page can be found here.

6th FEBRUARY, 2001

News comes today that the two man Norwegian South Pole Expedition team comprising Rolf Bae and Eirik Sonneland have safely arrived at Ross Island to complete their unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent. They arrived at Williams Field at 1am local time Tuesday 6th February, 2001 and are now resting at the nearby New Zealand Scott Base.

Rolf Bae reports they had no major problems during the trip.  After coming off the Axel Heiberg Glacier however they had hardly any wind.  This is where they lost time and eventually missed the 30th January rendevous with the "Kapitan Khlebnikov".  They still had food and fuel for 20-some days when they reached McMurdo. Also in the AH-Glacier they broke the antenna to their orbcomm-communication, which is the reason nobody heard from them after January 9th.  Exactly how the pair will leave the Antarctic from Ross Island is uncertain but now they have arrived  these plans can now be finalised.

In further Norwegian Antarctic news we can also report that the 22 year old ship hand from the Norwegian vessel "Lance" who had to medevac'd from the Antarctic over a week ago is now making reasonable progress in Christchurch Hospital. Thomas Olsen Wotnitza was driving a Skidoo near the Norwegian Troll Station when it flipped causing extensive leg and head injuries.  In a multi-national rescue effort Wotnitza was flown by German Dornier aircraft to the South Pole and from there by American ski-equipped Hercules aircraft to Mcmurdo and then on to Christchurch arriving in the early hours of 28th January 2001. He is mending well physically  but still has some neurological problems with short term memory loss and balance problems. It is expected that he will remain in Christchurch for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

5th FEBRUARY, 2001

We can report that the Ice island vessel "Braveheart" is currently in the middle of the Ross Sea and finding the going difficult with the heavy ice pack proving difficult to penetrate. the vessel has been using its Hughes 300 helicopter to help navigate through the ice.

US Antarctic "Deep Freeze" program will this year employ a second supply vessel to transport supplies from Lyttelton to McMurdo. The NSF have chartered the Dutch vessel "Archangelgracht" which has already arrived in Lyttelton. It is expected to depart for McMurdo on Thursday 8th February and arrive at McMurdo about the 15th ot 17th of February or about the same time as the usual supply vessel "GreenWave" will have completed her cargo offloading.   This season there was a particularly large amount of cargo because of the current building of the new South Pole Station.

It appears that the Australian Antarctic chartered supply vessel "Polar Bird" isstill trapped in fast pack ice not far from Casey AAT Station. The vessel has been there for several weeks now but has been able to undertake some work with the use of a helicopter. The Australian Icebreaker "Aurora Australis" has been asked to go to the rescue of the "Polar Bird".

21st JANUARY, 2001

The non-governmental Ice Island joint American/New Zealand expedition vessel "Braveheart" departed Lyttelton on 17th January bound for the Ross Sea and a date with the giant iceberg B15.

The expedition partly sponsored by (US) National Geographic Society also has a team of divers, photographers and a camera crew on board to record and document the effect that such a large iceberg has on the surrounding area. They also carry a helicopter and will attempt to put teams onto, under and inside caves in the iceberg. We have a page showing team members and the departure of the expedition from Lyttelton here.

20th JANUARY, 2001

We have a page here for the Bancroft Arnesen Antarctic Expedition. this shows photos of the first ever all-woman team attempting to ski and sail across the Antarctic Continent. The photos were taken this week at the South Pole.

Meanwhile news comes that the vessel "Kapitan Khlebnikov" has succeeded in becoming the vessel to have sailed the furtherest south ever. this was made possible by the recent calving of a big ice berg from the Ross Ice Shelf.

16th JANUARY, 2001

We have added a page for the first Danish South Pole expedition which reached the South Pole on January 13th, 2001. Click here to see photos of the Danish team arriving at the South Pole.

We have also added many items to our existing page for the German cruise liner "Bremen" which departed Bluff on January 11th for a cruise to the Antarctic. Our page showing philatelic covers from the "Bremen" can be seen here

We have a separate page showing photos of the visit to Bluff here

4th JANUARY, 2001

We have added photos and some mail from two Japanese ex Whalers which are currently passing through New Zealand on their way to the Ross Sea engaged in Whale research for the International Whaling Commission. You can see covers from these vessels by clicking here

We have extra photos of their port call to Wellington which can be seen here.


"POLE TO POLE 2000" Expedition team arrives at South Pole on the 31st December, 2000. The team comprising 9 people from 7 different nations set out from the North Magnetic Pole on the 5th April 2000. We have a page showing photos of their arrival at the South Pole here

Meanwhile we have received news that the Australian private expedition vessel "Sir Hubert Wilkins" has attained the Magnetic South Pole on december 23rd at a location some 100 km north of the Antarctic continent not far from Commonwealth Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory. The vessel has since dropped off a Mawson Huts restoration expedition team at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay. this party will remain there for 2 weeks helping to conserve the historic buildings erected by Sir Douglas Mawson last Century.  The party has a special pictorial AAT postmark and we expect to eventually have philatelic mail to offer collectors.

31st December, 2000

Dutch South Pole "ORIGIN" Team arrive at South Pole.

The Dutch 2 man "Origin" South Pole Expedition team arrived at the South Pole on 27th December, 2000 at 21.45 GMT  ( 10.45am Local time on 28 December) in good condition and in good spirits. They have rested for 2 days there and are now returning to Patriot Hills by foot.   We have a page of photos of the teams arrival which can be seen here.

24th December, 2000


The Australian Antarctic support vessel, "Polar Bird" is now finally heading to Hobart after freeing itself from Antarctic pack ice on Tuesday (19 December) evening.   "Aurora Australis", the Australian Icebreaker  which had been asked to help rescue "Polar Bird" has  now resumed its original course and is also heading for Hobart about a day behind "Polar Bird".

"Polar Bird" Voyage Leader, Dr Ian Allison, reported last evening that they had started making headway through the ice early on Tuesday morning. Prevailing winds and sea-ice drift led to an easing of the ice conditions,  allowing the ship to make its way to open water by Tuesday evening.  The vessel  is now expected to arrive at Hobart on 26 December. 

It appears that the current Australian research programme will not be greatly affected by the month long period when "Polar Bird" was trapped in the ice. 

23rd December, 2000

The 20th Indian Antarctic Expedition is due to start out from Capetown in the German chartered vessel " Magdalena Oldendorff" on the 30th December, 2000. The Expedition under the command of geologist Mervin D' Souza includes two helicopters from Helicopters (NZ) Ltd. The Expedition will be based at the Indian Antarctic Maitri Base.

20th December, 2000

We can announce today that the Norwegian South Pole Expedition team comprising Rolf Bae and Eirik Sonneland arrived at the South Pole earlier today (December 20th)  just 2 months after setting out from the Norwegian Troll Base in Droning Maud Land where they had over-wintered.  We have photos of their arrival at the South pole which can be viewed here. The Norwegians stayed at the pole for only 1 day before continuing on their trek across the Antarctic heading for Ross Island where they plan to be picked up by a ship.

We have added a new page on our site for the US operated Byrd Surface Camp which is situated in West Antarctica on the polar Plateau. This page can be seen by clicking here

15th December, 2000

News today that the Australian Antarctic support vessel "Polar Bird" has been trapped in the Ice for the past 2 weeks and Australian antarctic division are making plans to have another vessel go to its aid.

Meanwhile Heritage Expeditions vessel "Akademik Shokalskiy" has returned to Dunedin from a Bird watching expedition to various sub-Antarctic Islands including MacQuarie Island. We have some photos and covers from this expedition available here:

6th December, 2000

We have added a new page showing photos of the  building of the new South Pole Station

Click here to see this page.

We have also added to our "Shirase" page. the "Shirase" is the Japanese Icebreaker which each year transports the Japanese Antarctic Expedition to Antarctica. In November 2000 it called into Fremantle in Western Australia on its way south. We have also added a page showing pictures from this port visit including special ceremonies held on board. To see mail from the "Shirase" click here.

To see picture of the Fremantle port visit click here.

30th November, 2000

We have added a new page on our listings of Antarctic bases for the American Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. This page includes some recent but very rare flight covers including medical emergency flights and the famous 1999 mid-winter medical air drop to the south pole where we offer some items actually in the parachutre drop.

Click here to see the South Pole page.

26th November, 2000

We have received an attractive range of covers from Heard Island where the Australian Antarctic division is this year conducting several major scientific research programmes. This season is the first for many years that a special Heard Island postmark has been used. To see these covers take a look at our page for the "Polar Bird" which was the first vessel to return from the island this season.

20th November, 2000

The United States National Science Foundation have chartered ANI's Turbo prop DC-3 aircraft (Now called a Basler BT-67) for work in the Antarctic for the next month. the aircraft arrived at the South Pole station yesterday  to commence work and we have photos of its arrival here

Meanwhile the Air National Guard continues to have problems falling far behind their schedule of LC-130 Hercules flights with shortage of supplies now starting to affect NSF field operations and the building of the new South Pole Station.

The "Sir Hubert Wilkins" is nearly finished her refit at Lyttelton and is now wearing an attractive paint scheme. It is expected that she will leave Lyttelton for Sydney and then Hobart on 22nd November 2000.  Her first trip south from Hobart is still tenatively scheduled for 12th December 2000.

Click here to see more photos of Sir Hubert Wilkins

14th November, 2000

Today saw the first RNZAF C130 Hercules flight to McMurdo Sound and the ice runway. This is the first of about 19 scheduled flights by the New Zealand Air Force.

Meanwhile the Italian Air Force Hercules allocated for Antarctic supply duty  broke down last week. It has been handed over to the Air New Zealand engineering workshops at Christchurch for repairs to enable it to participate in flights to Antarctica. These workshops are one of the few around the world fully accredited by the Hercules Aircraft makers, Lockhead to do major overhaul work on Hercules aircraft.

Two helicopters chartered by the Italians from Helicopters NZ Ltd which were to be transported south inside the Italian Hercules have now been released back to their owners. While the Italian programme already has two helicopters situated at Terra Nova Bay, their main Antarctic Base, the lack of the extra two aircraft has already meant the deletion of some proposed events including drilling on the sea ice.

16th October, 2000

The "Sir Hubert Wilkins", the ex Finish State Royal Yacht now owned by the Australian company "Ocean Frontiers" Antarctic Tourism company arrived at Lyttelton today.

The two company principals Don and Margie McIntyre, who are travelling on board say that the vessel is to undergo extensive repairs and modifications while in Lyttelton. This will include a period spent in the Lyttelton dry dock. When she arrived the vessel sported her new name of "Sir Hubert Wilkins" but was still listed in the shipping list of the Port campany under her previous name of "Tuka".  Her paintwork shows an amount of rust and does not yet feature the distinctive Red slash and Australian flag hull design as in her promotional brochures. She is scheduled to leave Lyttelton on 15th November so this month will probably be used to apply the new colour scheme as well as fit other equipment for her new Antarctic tourism role.

Click here to see photos of Sir Hubert Wilkins arrival at Lyttelton

16th October, 2000

United States Air Forces Air National Guard short of skilled ski equipped Hercules aircrew.

In 1999 the US Navy handed over the air support role for Operation Deep Freeze to the US Air Force who have assigned the role to their New York Air National Guard squadron. This squadron is the world's only squadron which flies heavy payload ski equiped aircraft.

The Air National Guard train their pilots in an annual series of flights in Greenland. Pilots must undertake two seasons of Greenland flight training before they are allowed to venture south to the Antarctic. for the 2000-2001 season this has resulted in a shortage of qualified flight crew  which means that over 50 flights from McMurdo to the South Pole may have to be deleted from this years U.S. National Science program. This will severely curtail the 2000-2001 South Pole Station building program.

16th October, 2000

Deep Ice Drilling in the Antarctic

United States scientists will be participating this season with the international deep drilling programme at Lake Vostok near the Russian Vostok Antarctic station. The project is to drill several thousand meters down through the ice cap into a newly discovered lake (Lake Vostok) which sits beneath the ice and on top of the continental land mass. Scientists are excited about the potential of being able to tap into a very large lake of water which has never had the chance to be contaminated with man made pollutants. Scientists will also be using the lake as a test bed for various equipment  testing for presence of any life. This equipment is being developed to eventually be used to test for life on other planets.

Recent reports are that US scientists have discovered another lake under the ice cap situated only a few kilometers (Less than 10) from the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station. US Scientists intend that any techniques/problems learnt at Lake Vostok will be applied in subsequent drilling at the un-named South Pole Lake.

5th October, 2000

Norfolk Island today issued a Miniature Sheet ( two stamps ) with an Antarctic Theme. The sheet was issued for Canpex 2000 National stamp Exhibition held in Christchurch for which Norfolk Post were one of the main sponsors. The sheet shows  Providence Petrels, A  bird of the Southern Ocean which nests on Norfolk Island. The sheet itself shows the Island, anenlarged South Island of New Zealand and the Antarctic Continent around which the Petrel live.

Click here to see a picture of the first day cover and pricing details.

September 8th, 2000

The regular Chinese Antarctic expedition vessel "Xue long" is currently undergoing repairs and modifications and won't make the usual long trip via Fremantle to China's Antarctic Great Wall and Zhongshan Stations this season. It is understood that arrangements have been made for Chinese expeditioneers to travel south with the Australians in their chartered Antarctic support vessel  "Polar Bird" from Fremantle. Obviously similar arrangements will have to be made with a nation to resupply   Great Wall Station. The most likely is Chile.

August 27th, 2000

The 2000 USAF Winfly flight schedule was delayed somewhat with bad weather at McMurdo preventing the scheduled 3rd flight on Friday 25th August. This flight was  put back 2 days and the fourth flight delayed until Sunday 27th.

August 21st, 2000

2000 "Winfly" flight

Today the USAF was scheduled to fly the first of three 2000 Winfly flights from Christchurch to McMurdo to end several months of winter isolation for the main US Antarctic Base. A Starlifter C141 (a/c no 38076) from McChord Air Force Base was the aircraft involved.

August 20th, 2000

Sir Peter Blake and Cousteau Society part over Antarctic Expedition Plans.

Earlier this year the noted New Zealand yachtsman Sir Peter Blake was apointed to head the International Cousteau Society.   This week it was announced that plans for an Antarctic trip led by Blake in the specially build polar yacht "Arctic Explorer" would no longer be done as  a Cousteau Society event. The Antarctic expedition will still go ahead but it will now be done by "Blakexpeditions" according to spokeman Alan Sefton. The vessel is to be renamed "Seamaster" and will depart for the Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula after a tour around New Zealand Ports to drum up support.

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