Our Buildings

Our Buildings

Tour Of Scott Base

Ever wondered what it's like in Scott Base? Click here for a tour.

Power Supply

Scott Base is powered from a grid that feeds both Scott Base and McMurdo Station.  Power is fed into the grid from three sources:  generators at McMurdo, Antarctica New Zealand wind turbines and Scott Base generators. 

  • Scott Base      - three x 200kW AN8 Cat Generators
  • Windfarm -      three x 330kW Enercon E33 wind turbines
  • McMurdo      Station - five x 1400kW AN8 Cat Generators

The average load at Scott Base is around 120kW and can run two main generators at any time with a backup generator in the event of a blackout.  The generators also supply waste heat to the interconnected buildings that make up the base.  When generators aren't running heat is supplied using AN8 fuelled boilers.

Antarctica New Zealand with the help of Meridian Energy installed three 330kW Enercon E33 wind turbines on Crater Hill above Scott Base, creating the southernmost wind farm in the world.  The windfarm supplies energy to both Scott Base and the neighbouring McMurdo Station, forming part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint logistics pool with the United States Antarctic Program.  The three turbines reduce the amount of fuel required for power generation by around 463,000 litres and cut CO2 emissions by 1242 tonnes per year.

The US and NZ have worked closely to try minimise fuel use across both bases.   Automatic generation at Scott Base has recently been implemented to minimise running more than one of their big generators at McMurdo, by supplementing energy with the Scott Base generators.  By combining the energy generated by the wind farm and the Scott Base generators, it is now possible to supply power to McMurdo with only one of their big generators running.

Scott Base Communications

Scott Base has a modern communications network. A small, fully featured telephone exchange provides a link to New Zealand through the SPARK satellite earth station at Arrival Heights. With the station dish pointing approximately 3 degrees above the horizon, the earth station is almost as far south as the limit of communication using geo-stationary satellites stationed above the equator. Connecting the exchange and the earth station is a fibre optic cable system.

The grey satellite station dome itself is located near Arrival Heights and consists of a dish that is nine metres in diameter. This is housed inside a 14 metre diameter, geodesic dome that has been designed to withstand the severe weather conditions that can occur in Antarctica. The dome is built on a large, steel structure, which is anchored to the ground. There is a fibre cable link to our neighbours at McMurdo Station. The two bases form a small free-calling area. This provides both Antarctica New Zealand and the United States Antarctic Program with a Ross Island network that allows access through each other’s telephone systems to New Zealand, the United States and the rest of the world.  During the summer season, three lines are provided from the Scott Base exchange, using VHF radio links, to enable the Italian Antarctic Programme at Terra Nova Bay to also join our network.

Scott Base operates as part of the New Zealand national telephone network.  Using speech compression, a considerable number of telephone circuits are carried over the satellite link from Arrival Heights.  Both Antarctica New Zealand and the United States Antarctic Program utilise the Scott Base system for telephone and data to New Zealand.

The Satellite we are currently using for all communications is Intelsat 19. This also provides us with New Zealand TV content which is broadcast from New Zealand to the Pacific Island Broadcasters and Scott Base. Currently this includes daily TV1 and TV3 nightly news, sporting and documentaries broadcast by Pacific Corporation Broadcasting Ltd which is funded by MFAT. There are TV’s in public areas at Scott Base where people can watch this content. Our system is part of the Spark New Zealand network. As such, users at Scott Base are able to share some of the calling specials that apply from time to time. This can make communication to and from Scott Base quite cheap for those that work there and regular contact with home makes life a little easier, especially during winter

Hillary Field Centre

The Hillary Field Centre upgrade was completed in September 2015. Part of this upgrade included an area where 15 workstations and 3 individual meeting rooms are situated. The Technical Support staff and servers are also located in this facility. There are public computers available for internet access or working. The computers are Windows 7 and have Office 2013 with access to a nearby printer. The area is designed to be a quiet area where data processing, writing and internet access can be carried out. Off to the side of this area is a ‘breakout space’ where one can nurse a hot coffee while sharing stories or planning their work. Laptops can be connected to the TV display monitor for planning presentations or discussions


There are four science laboratory areas at Scott Base detailed below. Use of Labs must be organised through the Event Planning Team at Antarctica New Zealand before travelling to Scott Base.

Wet Laboratory & Summer Laboratory

The Wet Lab was constructed for research related to marine biology and environmental monitoring of the base waste water treatment plant. There are two separate research areas related to these two different topics. The marine biology area has direct sea water (-1.8 to -1.3°C) circulation to nine small (20 gallon) aquariums. The facility has limited lab bench space, a refrigerator, two baking ovens, constant temperature bath, various digital balances (Metler), some standard glassware and a phone.

The Summer Lab is maintained for research groups which need quiet or uninterrupted lab space for set-up of experimental equipment. The facility has power and heat, but no running water, phone or data network access

Arrival Heights Laboratory

Located approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Scott Base and located above McMurdo Station in the Arrival Heights Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA). The current Arrival Heights Laboratory was completed in 2007 and opened by our then Prime Minister, Helen Clark on the 50th Anniversary of Scott Base. The lab replaced the smaller Arrival Heights lab facility (which was taken by Canterbury Museum for future public display!). There has been some form of facility in this location for more than fifty years. The location is valued for its view of the horizon for upper atmospheric work.

Antarctica New Zealand’s Technicians operate and maintain the experiments in this facility for the whole year for the owners of the experiments. NIWA operate air sampling, automatic weather station, Dobson (Ozone) spectrometers and several other types of spectrometers at this facility measuring upper atmospheric chemistry using the sun. Canterbury University have a Winds Radar receiver. Otago University Space Physics Group run a VLF experiment called AARDDVARK Antarctica New Zealand also supports the US Antarctic Program by hosting a Boltzmann LIDAR experiment operated by NSF funded Dr Xinzhao Chu and her research team.

Hatherton Laboratory

Named after Dr Trevor Hatherton, The Hatherton Lab was the main physics lab space at Scott Base and has largely been succeeded by the HFC upgrade for lab space.

The Hatherton Lab houses a number of long-term experiments for NIWA, GNS, Canterbury Physics Department, LINZ, USGS and Antarctica New Zealand.

The facility has three offices for short term use, an office for the Technicians’, an electronics workshop server facilities, video conferencing and movie room