Project

Aotearoa New Zealand has significant and enduring strategic, scientific, environmental, diplomatic and economic interests in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, particularly the Ross Dependency.

Scott Base

Pram Point, Hut Point Peninsula, Ross Island in McMurdo Sound

77° 51’ S, v 166° 46’ E

10 m above sea level


Scott Base – New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station – is located 3800km south of Christchurch and 1350km from the South Pole.

Scott Base perches on a low volcanic headland called Pram Point at the southern end of Ross Island. Mt Erebus sits north-east and to the west, across McMurdo Sound, is the Royal Society Range. Here, lies the boundary between the Ross Ice Shelf and the sea ice that forms every winter.

From October to February, Scott Base is a bustling hub of scientists, staff and visitors.

Check out New Zealand’s current home on the ice: Explore Scott Base

Aotearoa New Zealand in Antarctica

Aotearoa New Zealand values a safe and secure Antarctica and wants to protect the region as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. Aotearoa New Zealand has had a permanent presence in Antarctica at Scott Base since 1957, where continuous scientific research has been conducted.

New Zealand is one of the 12 original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty. New Zealand maintains a pre-eminent role in the Antarctic Treaty System and strategic relationships with other national Antarctic programmes.

To have influence in the Antarctic Treaty System, New Zealand must continue to:

  • Have a credible ongoing presence in Antarctica, particularly in the Ross Sea region, and
  • Conduct high quality Antarctic science.

In addition to our presence on the ice, New Zealand’s interests are enhanced through the position of Christchurch as an Antarctic gateway city. In 2017, this brought over $190 million directly to the New Zealand economy.

Scott Base enables the permanent presence in Antarctica that underpins New Zealand’s strategic interests.

In July 2021, Cabinet endorsed the Implementation Business Case and approved the implementation of the Scott Base Redevelopment project, accordingly.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs pro-actively released the Cabinet papers and related Cabinet minutes concerning the Scott Base Redevelopment Implementation Business Case. Some information has been redacted.

Flagpole outside Scott Base

Why redevelop?

Scott Base has been continuously occupied since its establishment in 1957 and has had numerous upgrades and additions. The last major infrastructure investments occurred in the 1980s and mid-1990s.

The current base has served New Zealand well – and far longer than ever expected – but the buildings, facilities and systems are deteriorating and need to be replaced.

Designing, building and transporting a new base to Antarctica is an exciting yet challenging task that will take longer to deliver than if the same project was built in New Zealand. Designing and constructing a building of this magnitude in Antarctica takes at least ten years. Antarctica New Zealand’s aim is to have the base complete by 2030, so the building process is already well underway.

Current Scott Base

Vision

The vision of the Scott Base Redevelopment is to provide a safe, fit-for-purpose, environmentally sustainable scientific research base that will support New Zealand’s presence in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica for the next 50 years.

The redevelopment demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to scientific discovery of global significance and participation in the Antarctic Treaty System.

The existing base, made up of 12 separate buildings, will be replaced by three large interconnected buildings.

The new base will be located on the current site at Pram Point. Other locations were considered, but this is a perfect location as it is one of few places on the frozen continent not covered by ice.

SBR Jx HBA Entrance

Strategic Objectives

The Scott Base Redevelopment is underpinned by the following strategic objectives:

  1. Maintain a continuous presence in the Ross Dependency.
  2. Protect the Antarctic environment.
  3. Provide an environment that keeps people safe and healthy.
  4. Enable logistics to support and enhance high quality science.
  5. Maintain New Zealand’s credibility amongst Antarctic Treaty nations.
SBR Jx HBA Aerial Close

Project Team