postage stamps of the Ross Dependency

New Zealand - Ross Dependency 1957-1971

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The Ross Dependency, which is a triangular shaped section of Antarctica extending from the South Pole 900 miles north to Stewart Island was handed over by Great Britain to New Zealand in 1923.

The first base was erected in 1956, as a prelude to the International Geophysical Year (I.G.Y.) and was named after Robert Falcon Scott, who perished with the rest of his expedition after reaching the South Pole in 1911.

Flag raising officially opens Scott Station, New Zealand's First Antarctic Base

United States and NewZealand scientists work together closely; a joint party operates the Cape Hallett camp. Scott Station lies less than two miles from the U.S. Naval Air Facility on Hut Point; both are on ice-locked Ross Island.

In this photo Admiral Dufek (fifth from left) participates in the dedication ceremonies in 1956. Flagpole is a relic of the base Scott used in 1902-04 and 1910-11.

The Ross Dependency was named after the British Naval Officer James Clark Ross (1800-1862),

who in 1840 in his ship "Erebus" accompanied by the "Terror", took six weeks to sail from Campbell Island to the Antarctic continent where his ships forced a way through the ice to the ice island which now bears his name.


1908 : King Edward VII Land.
This stamp was issued for the Shackleton Expedition. The New Zealand stamp Penny Universal overprinted. This is the Royle printing.

1911 : Victoria Land. This stamp was issued for the Scott Expedition. There were two stamps ½d and 1d, which while not strictly necessary were used to frank correspondence to New Zealand. They were sold to the public at a premium price to help finance the Expedition.

11 January 1957 : The first stamps issued for the Ross Dependency were recess-printed by De La Rue and showed :

8d : a map,(Designer R. Smith). This had two printings the first as Carmine red and ultramarine, and the second bright carmine red and blue, they are quite easily distinguished when they are next to one another. 3d : Ross's ship "Erebus" with the volcano named for the ship;(Designer E.M. Berry) 4d : Shackleton and Scott;(Designer L.C. Mitchell) 1/6d : Queen Elizabeth II. (Designer J. Berry)

Cover with a special cachet to mark New Zealand research in Antarctica, dated 21 FE 66,

There has been a permanent settlement at Scott Base since 1956 and during the summer months the scientists attached to the Department of Scientific Industrial Research carry out the research programmes. Since 1956 they have explored and mapped almost the whole area of the Ross Dependency, which at 175,000 square miles is nearly twice the size of New Zealand.

Scott Base was set up originally as a prelude to the I.G.Y for the attempted Trans-Antarctic Crossing. Sir Edmund Hillary was the leader of the New Zealand Expedition, which set off November 1957 from McMurdo Sound. They were travelling by dog sledge and food and fuel supplies had been established along the route by small planes. The crossing was planned for the period 1956 to 1958.

The meeting was successfully carried out, Dr. Vivian Fuchs and his 16-man team, travelling on sno-cats met the New Zealanders on the 20th January 1958, then led his party to Shackleton Base, 2000 miles away. Commemorative covers like this one were produced and mailed.

in 1967 New Zealand and her dependencies converted to decimal currency and on 10-7-1967 the postage stamps were re-issued with decimal figures as part of the design.


These decimal stamps remained in use until 18th January when new definitives were issued to meet increased postage rates.

The stamps were designed by M. Cleverley, and printed in lithography by Bradbury Wilkinson of Great Britain. The images show aspects of the Ross Dependency.

  • 3cent black, brownish grey & pale blue - Skua
  • 4cent black, royal blue and violet - "Hercules" aeroplane at Williams Base
  • 5cent black, brownish grey and rose-lilac Shackleton's Hut
  • 8cent black, yellow-brown and brownish grey Supply Ship H.M.N.Z.S. Endeavour This ship,shown below, designated "A184" is an American Oil tanker "Endeavour" loaned to the New Zealand Navy for service in the Antarctic.
  • 10cent black, truquoise-green & slate green - Scott Base
  • 18cent black, violet and bright violet - tabular ice floe

9th July 1971 New Zealand issued a commemorative stamp to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of New Zealand entering the Antarctic Treaty. All of the signatories of the Treaty have agreed that Antarctica be used for peaceful and scientific purposes only.

The stamp was designed by Miss Eileen Mayo, and printed by the phtogravure process in Tokyo by the Japanese Printing Bureau. Although it is not an issue for the Ross Dependency, I have included it because of the links with this part of Antarctica. New Zealand stopped producing and using separate postage stamps for the Ross Dependency, for a few years, but in 1990 began to re-issue them again.

Copyright 1999 By EARS Leisurewrite

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