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AntarcticaRoss Dependency: 15 Must-Visit Places in New Zealand's Southernmost Region

Ross Dependency: 15 Must-Visit Places in New Zealand’s Southernmost Region

New Zealand controls the Ross Dependency, a region of Antarctica between 150 and 236 degrees east longitude. This icy landscape offers adventurous travelers stunning mountain peaks, massive glaciers flowing into the sea, colonies of penguins and seals, historic huts from early explorers, and scientific research stations. Here are 15 must-see destinations for an unforgettable Antarctic experience in New Zealand’s Ross Dependency:  

McMurdo Station

The hub for U.S Antarctic operations, McMurdo Station offers tours for visitors. You can see Discovery Hut and Scott’s 1901 expedition base while visiting this sprawling complex of buildings on the south tip of Ross Island. It’s the central staging point for many Antarctic expeditions.

Mt Erebus 

The world’s southernmost active volcano, Mt Erebus offers the opportunity to climb to the steaming crater rim overlooking the frozen Ross Sea. It’s a chance to see Antarctica’s volcanic forces up close. The 12,500 foot peak has steam rising constantly from its lava lake in the crater.

Victoria Land

Victoria Land has dramatic mountains like the Royal Society Range. You can visit the explorer huts and camps left by Shackleton and Scott across this region first discovered in 1841. Victoria Land stretches along the western shore of the Ross Sea from Cape Adare all the way south to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.

Terra Nova Bay

An Italian research station with a museum, Terra Nova Bay offers a visitor’s program. Near here along the edges of the bay you can find the Northern Foothills which have small Adelie penguin rookeries. The stark white and blue colors stand out dramatically.

Ross Ice Shelf  

The world’s largest floating ice sheet, the massive Ross Ice Shelf offers endless vistas of ice and snow for visitors. You’re likely to spot seals basking on small ice floes near the edge where the shelf meets the sea. Some tour ships cruise along its front for passengers to take in dramatic views. 

McMurdo Dry Valleys

One of the world’s driest deserts, the McMurdo Dry Valleys contain dramatic glaciers and colorful soils that stand in stark contrast to most visions of Antarctica. Unique microbial colonies have been discovered that manage to survive in the dryness here.

Ross Sea

You can take an icebreaker cruise amid ice floes of the Ross Sea, spotting whales, seals and penguins. Voyages here also will give you views of Mount Erebus rising from the sea along Ross Island. Early explorers struggled to penetrate the thick sea ice blocking the Ross Sea.  

Shackleton Glacier 

 A highway for early explorers, the Shackleton Glacier allows visitors to hike over its surface of blue ice and take in views of the Transantarctic Mountains in the distance. As with other glaciers extending from the Polar Plateau, crevasses pose dangers.

Scott Base 

New Zealand’s research facility, Scott Base offers tours and displays for visitors focused on early expeditions. Close by there are rookeries where you are likely to see Adélie penguins and Weddell seals. Scott Base personnel also monitor penguin tagged populations in the region.

Balleny Islands 

The remote northern Balleny Islands support large Adelie penguin colonies visitors can view. For experienced adventurers, the islands’ undisturbed frozen wilderness is perfect for expedition kayaking. There are no permanent human residents, just seals, penguins and seabirds.  

Cape Adare

Cape Adare features Borchgrevink’s expedition huts from 1899, when they became the first people to winter intentionally in Antarctica. Nearby is a large penguin rookery visitors can view set against a backdrop of glaciers calving into the sea. 

Taylor Valley

One of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Taylor Valley contains colorful soils and perennially frozen lakes locked in place. Visitors here can visit glacier snouts slowly entering the valleys, held back by the dryness. Blood Falls is another draw, a red liquid seeping from Taylor Glacier laden with iron.

Roosevelt Island

A remote northern island perfect for kayaking with its long dark winters, Roosevelt Island also offers opportunities for spotting seals, whales offshore when sunlight returns. Roosevelt Island has no permanent human habitation but researchers may stay for short periods.  

Cape Hallett 

In summer, Cape Hallett offers visitors sights of seabird and penguin rookeries with giant petrels nesting on nearby rocky ridges. An Adélie penguin population was discovered here in the mid 20th century. Killer whales patrol just off this cape during breeding season. 

Beaufort Island

On this small northern island, Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition crew survived for 4 months in 1916 after their ship Endurance sank. Visitors can view a memorial cross and grave site recalling their resilience trying to reach rescue. It’s a testament to Antarctica’s brutality.


With incredible destinations across New Zealand’s Ross Dependency in Antarctica from scientific bases to historic huts, soaring peaks to penguin colonies, intrepid travelers will discover a landscape of extremes filled with natural beauty. Follow this list to craft your own Antarctic adventure in one of the world’s last great wildernesses.

The Top 15 Most Stunning Destinations Across New Zealand’s Ross Dependency in Antarctica

  1. McMurdo Station
  2. Mt Erebus
  3. Victoria Land
  4. Terra Nova Bay
  5. Ross Ice Shelf
  6. McMurdo Dry Valleys
  7. Shackleton Glacier
  8. Scott Base
  9. Balleny Islands
  10. Cape Adare
  11. Taylor Valley
  12. Roosevelt Island
  13. Cape Hallett
  14. Beaufort Island


[1] https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/best-places-to-visit-in-new-zealand 

[2] https://www.tripsavvy.com/best-places-to-visit-in-new-zealand-4768044 

[3] https://www.touropia.com/best-places-to-visit-in-new-zealand/ 

[4] https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255104-i125-k8543349-New_Zealand_s_best_two_cit ies_to_visit-New_Zealand.html 

[5] https://www.lelongweekend.com/top-things-to-do-in-new-zealand-a-locals-guide/ 


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