Christchurch is home to offices of a number of Antarctic programmes.

Antarctica New Zealand

The New Zealand Antarctic Institute, known as Antarctica New Zealand(external link), was established 1 July 1996. It is the Crown Entity responsible for developing, managing and executing NZ Government activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, in particular the Ross Dependency. Key activities include supporting scientific research, conserving the intrinsic values of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and raising public awareness of the international significance of the continent. All activities are conducted so as to minimise the risks to personnel as far as is reasonable.

Scott Base

Antarctica New Zealand manages Scott Base(external link), New Zealand’s Antarctic research station and permanent base in Antarctica, since 1959 (named after Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott). The base provides services and accommodation for the many research parties and groups who visit Antarctica during the summer, hosting up to 85 people.

US Antarctic Program (USAP)

The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent US government agency, manages the US Antarctic Program (USAP)(external link). NSF’s Division of Polar Programs (POLAR) coordinates all US scientific research on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean as well as related logistics support.

Through the Lockheed-Martin Antarctic Support Contract, PAE NZ operates the USAP, commonly known as Operation Deep Freeze. Operation Deep Freeze's presence in Christchurch dates back to the 1950s.

The New York Air National Guard operates LC-130 (ski-equipped) airplanes in the Antarctic Programme. The C17 Globemaster, which flies regularly during the summer season from Christchurch International Airport to Antarctica, is operated by the US Air Force. The Coast Guard operates icebreakers in Antarctica to escort supply ships and to support science.

McMurdo Station

McMurdo Station(external link), the logistics hub of the US Antarctic program in the Ross Sea, accommodates up to 1200 people. It is just 3km from NZ's Scott Base.

The USAP also operates the Amunsden-Scott South Pole Station and Palmer Station.


The Italians have used Christchurch as their base to service their research station at Terra Nova Bay in the Ross Sea.

Zucchelli Research Station

Built in 1986, the base supports around 70 people and operates during the summer months October to February, hosting a variety of scientific projects.

The Italica has been a regular visitor to Lyttelton over the years.

Korean Antarctic Program

In 2012 the Republic of Korea and New Zealand signed an Antarctic Co-operation Agreement. The Korean Antarctic Program(external link) (KOPRI) will service its new base Jang Bogo Station, Terra Nova Bay, from Christchurch.

KOPRI’s icebreaker, Araon, frequents Lyttelton on its way to and from Antarctica over the summer months.