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Adelie penguinNew Zealand Antarctic Covers

New on this Site:

June 2008: More flight information

May 2007: Six new covers

December 2006: Icebreaker and extra 1987 cover.

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Welcome! Like my other sites this a virtual collection, this time of covers, with a fair bit of history worked into the mix and some science. I have chosen to start after the heroic age in a period where the covers are more readily available to collectors and end yearly coverage with the closure of the Scott Base Post Office. I have not covered the sub-Antarctic islands covers.

Posting covers home was a tradition for polar visitors. The covers are relatively common and exist in great variety. 

--- The author of this site does not deal in these covers ---


New Zealand's Scott Base was established as part of the International Geophysical Year - IGY - joint Trans- Antarctic Expedition

It was named - of course - after Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Scott Base History

Google Earth file for location

rd_map.gif (37768 bytes) Ross Dependency Map - thumbnail.

The Ross Dependency stamps used there were first issued in 11 January 1957 before the official base opening. The post office initially operated in a Beaver aircraft crate, until the base was completed.





New Zealand uses the name Ross Dependency for the area and on the stamps. James Clark Ross was the commander of the British 1839-43 expedition to the area in HMS Erebus and Terror. Ross and Scott are both remembered by stamps in a 1972 British set. 

Erebus and Terror were later to carry Franklin on his disastrous Northwest Passage expedition and were lost on that voyage, along with all their crews.

Ross Dependency stamp and cover catalogue values, and here.


Scott Base is on Ross Island. The first site chosen by New Zealanders travelling with the 1955/56 Deep Freeze party was Butter Point on the mainland but the Endeavour could not get close to that site, so Pram Point was substituted. The supply ship was HMNZS Endeavour, named after Cook's first voyage ship. Ship history

On board was the first expedition Auster aircraft. Also on board was a DH Beaver.  A wing of the Auster was damaged when leaving Lyttleton (it overhung the side of the ship) and Endeavour diverted to Dunedin to offload the wing for repair. I saw the ship there as an 11 year old. One replica of the Beaver flies with New Zealand war birds and a second is in a museum.

Endeavour arrived in Antarctica in December 1956. On January 20th 1957 Scott Base was officially opened.

Sir Edmund Hillary was the Leader of the 1957 over-wintering party at the base.

Over the 1957/58 summer the Trans - Antarctic Expedition (TAE) lead by Vivian Fuchs took place ending at Scott Base. The New Zealand contribution was a support team lead by Sir Edmund Hillary. The support team travelled overland to the US South Pole base (established in 1957), reaching it before Fuchs. The NZ party journey. The Massey Ferguson tractors used by Hillary were used at the Pole by the US for some years. The TAE sno-cats were left at Scott Base and used there afterwards. One is now in the Canterbury Museum. The Beaver aircraft was a vital support to the New Zealand party ferrying supplies, spares and relief crews onto the polar plateau and supporting the scientific parties.

The 3d value of the 1957 set shows Erebus the ship and the mountain. The 4d value shows Shackleton and Scott. 


The reason for a post office? It seems to have been as much about sovereignty as anything. That was important in the pre-treaty days when there were lots of competing territorial claims. Why not New Zealand stamps? Probably seen as a money making opportunity.

1957 pole.jpg (81511 bytes) US Stamp cover. Cancelled at the US South Pole station, 1957, but on a Trans Antarctic printed cover and with a sticker over the Scott Base location, reading McMurdo Base.

freeze.jpg (36727 bytes) Operation Deep Freeze Cover May 1956. Cancel is Little America.

1957.jpg (10845 bytes)Registered cover

1957_5.jpg (20344 bytes)The cancellation is first day of issue
1957_4.jpg (31759 bytes)FDC
1957_3.jpg (12770 bytes)FDC
1957_6.jpg (75450 bytes)Card
1957 ffc.jpg (222479 bytes)Claimed as FFC - signed by RNZAF pilot. Presumably a local flight. 
1957xxx.jpg (47625 bytes)Signed by the  Endeavour captain- with pic

All cover illustrations are thumbnails


Where it is.

map1Rossisland.jpg (93002 bytes) Ross Island Map showing the US McMurdo Base and Scott Base. 


The US base was established in 1955 in Operation Deep Freeze. More. The bases are two miles apart. Deep Freeze and McMurdo have a philately all of its own - Link




RNZAF Auster flying in support of a field party. The Auster was a T.7C model bought in 1956. It is preserved in the Wigram RNZAF Museum.

The Antarctic Air Force. The TAE Otter on the right was claimed as the first single engined  aircraft to cross Antarctica, leaving Shackleton Base in January 1958 (see cover). However the Northrop Gamma Polar Star beat it by many years.

The Auster in the RNZAF Museum


The Beaver has a 2007 stamp.








r4d.jpg (36029 bytes)

p2v.jpg (45517 bytes)

c-124.jpg (35049 bytes)

mcmurdo chopper.gif (148749 bytes)

williamsfield1962.jpg (58910 bytes)

Navy R4D

Navy P2V Neptune

Air Force C-124 Globemaster

 Navy HUL-1  Sioux, from a 1957/58 photo collection, back stamped Scott Base.

Park 1962, R4D, Navy UC-1 Otter (DHC-3), Neptune

Pioneer US aircraft of McMurdo (thumbnails)

Five New Zealand scientists took part in IGY, the start of a now much enlarged scientific programme. 


US 1958 IGY stamp

1958.jpg (21878 bytes)  Antarctic crossing commemorative cover, showing DHC Beaver

1958 hillary.jpg (23797 bytes)Cover signed by Hillary and marked depot 700.
Depot 700 was the last before the pole. The expedition called there on the return from the pole at this date, but did not reach Scott Base until March 2nd 1958, so there must have been an aircraft mail pick up for this  for the cancellation date to apply.
1958_to_SB.jpg (11149 bytes)Cover to Scott Base from Shacklelton Base on the 6th  of Jan 1958 trans-Antarctic flight.
1958_packet.jpg (9849 bytes)Christchurch Packet Boat cancellation, Cachets: Hallett Station and NZ Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition.

1958 polar_transantarctic.jpg (17202 bytes) Cover carried across the continent

1958_2.jpg (13845 bytes) IGY cover
1958_fuchs.jpg (11600 bytes)Signed by V Fuchs - Trans-Antarctic Expedition leader
1958-2.jpg (26852 bytes)For once - a straight forward cover that does not commemorate anything!
1958rnzaf.jpg (21934 bytes)RNZAF Antarctic Flight cachet, signed by Squadron leader John Claydon

All cover illustrations are thumbnails


A more recent view Scott Base with active volcano Mt Erebus behind. Erebus research

Scott Base has been continuously occupied since 1957. A decision to make it permanent was taken in 1962. From the start there were small wintering over parties of 10 or more who maintained the base and performed meteorological recording and other scientific work at the base, and much larger groups of occupants over the summer seasons.

Today's weather at Scott Base

1959.jpg (20216 bytes)1959-60 cover and reverse

1959 endvr.jpg (40035 bytes)1959 Endeavour cover and contents photo

1959y.jpg (24060 bytes)IGY and 1959 cachets

All cover illustrations are thumbnails


Next Page - the 1960s

The author of this site does not deal in these covers.

 Page author: G Law