New Zealand’s Antarctic base, is located at Pram Point on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound. It was originally built in 1957, and rebuilt to be a suitable permanent base from 1976 to 1977. Today, it is a modern facility well suited to science support. Scott Base is made up of eight linked buildings with a maximum capacity of 80 people, and equipped with many of the comforts of home.
It contains 30 bedrooms, which sleep 1 to 6 people each, modern bathroom and laundry facilities, a large staffed kitchen, dining area, lounge and bar area, library, gym, and a shop. The facilities also have internet access and landline telephones that allow residents of the base to keep in touch with what is going on back home. There are also a number of recreational activities at, and around Scott Base. There are numerous hiking and cross country skiing trails nearby, a ski hill complete with a rope tow to the top, and a snow covered rugby pitch. Each year, in cooperation with McMurdo Station, there are bowling and dodge ball tournaments, a marathon and half marathon, and a rugby match between Scott Base and McMurdo Station.
Scott Base is also an advanced science facility with many features and equipment necessary for Antarctic research. There are many specialized instruments and facilities set up at Scott Base for environmental monitoring, weather observations, ionosphere and aurora observations, tide measurements, and for studying terrestrial and marine biology. As well, the Hillary Field Centre was opened in 2005, strengthening Scott Base’s ability to support field work. This centre provides a briefing and training room, field party preparation area, field equipment maintenance and storage areas, a drying room for field gear, cargo receipt and issue, general storage, refrigerated storage, offices, and a fitness centre. Scott Base also has an advanced communications centre that transmits and receives important information to and from field camps, air control, other Antarctic bases, and New Zealand. Sharing information about weather, flight schedules, personnel movements, and other important news, is vital to keep people safe and organized in Antarctica.
Each year, Scott Base supports 20 to 30 science projects. Summer is a busy time at Scott Base as it operates near its 80 person capacity much of the time from October to February. In the winter, when scientists cannot perform field work, only about 10 people remain at Scott Base, staying there from February to August. The functioning of Scott Base is vital for New Zealand based science projects to operate successfully in Antarctica, and the staff at Scott Base are invaluable in providing the necessary support to scientists to ensure that all field research can be completed efficiently and safely.