Kiwis head to Scott Base
The first wave of Kiwis destined for a summer of 24-hour daylight in Antarctica have left Christchurch in a Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 aircraft.
The Antarctica New Zealand (Ant NZ) Scott Base staff left the tarmac about 9am today, joined by passengers from the United States Antarctic Program.
Ant NZ operations manager Graeme Ayres said the balance of the Scott Base crew would head to the ice on Saturday.
''Some of them are first-timers, so they will go through a full Antarctic field course.''
The first two weeks would be used for a ''handover'' from the winter-over team, and scientists would start arriving soon after.
''I think the exciting aspect for us spending time with the new people on our staff who haven't been to Antarctica before. It's great to see the level of enthusiasm they have. We all feed off that.''
Antarctica NZ spokeswoman Lisa-Marie Brooks said a big focus this season would be pulling infrastructure out of Roosevelt Island, after the conclusion of field work for the Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution (RICE) drilling project last year.
''Obviously that's very challenging logistically, because it's a three-hour flight away from Scott Base. We're returning the area back to how it was before we put all the tents there.''
New Zealand Defence Force Senior National Officer for Antarctica Lieutenant Commander Barry Holmes, who is also Ant NZ's operations scheduler, is heading to the ice for his second summer in a row.
Holmes looks after the ''master plan'' of all movements on the ice, such as scientists going into the field and helicopter flight schedules.
There would be a big influx of scientists in the middle of this month, and again at the end of January, he said.
He'd probably miss ''greasy takeaways every now and then'', lying on the beach, and friends and family, but ''you really can't get too lonely at Scott Base - it's a really good team''.
Ant NZ supports between 50 and 70 events in Antarctica each season, from October to late February, including science groups, Antarctic Arts Fellows, and invited visitors.