Kiwi winter-over team returns from Antarctica's Scott Base to the COVID-19 world


After a year on the ice at Scott Base in Antarctica, the winter-over team has arrived back home in New Zealand and to COVID-19.

The virus had not yet hit our shores when the team left for the ice in December. 

The winter-over Antarctica Team arrived back in Christchurch to some genuine creature comforts - Winter Base leader Rory O'Connor told Newshub waking up to birdsong was "really special".

There are bags to unpack, equipment to return and lots to catch up on - including just a few changes since they set off for the ice. 

COVID-19 hadn't hit New Zealand when the team left and Antarctica remains untouched.

Antarctica NZ engineer Luke Keehan says watching the virus spread was "surreal".

"To see the entire world go through something and not be a part of it you're just sitting off to the sidelines watching things happen."

Adjusting to life on the ice is one thing - adjusting to home is another

"Colour is a thing which is quite starkening when you come back," said O'Connor.

"It's a very monochrome existence over there, white snow, the green colour of Scott Base and that's about it."

Then throw a global pandemic in the mix. There's new lingo - like"'bursting bubbles" and new people to get to know - like Dr Ashley Bloomfield, and they're already up to speed with the two-metre social distancing rules. 

But it's the memories made in Antarctica they will be focusing on for some time to come. 

"It's been a remarkable experience, it's a special place," O'Connor said.