Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) staff had been due to fly to Scott Base on Oct 1, but a series of snowstorms on the southern continent meant it was now hoped the first planes might leave Christchurch on Monday – two weeks later than usual.
Scott Base is New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station and will be home to 40 Antarctica New Zealand staff over the Austral summer.
A statement from ANZ called it the “longest delay in decades for the start of the season.”
“There are only 22 weeks in the season, so a two-week delay, especially at the beginning, is significant,” said operations general manager Simon Trotter.
“Weather delays are beyond our control … all we can do is re-schedule and wait for the window of opportunity.”
The storms had also affected researchers from the United States, with US staff waiting out the weather in Christchurch along with ANZ.
Recent winds at Scott Base had been up to 90kmh and deep snow had been dumped meaning roads and the airfield had to be cleared.
Antarctic research contributes around $450 million to the Christchurch economy each year.