Looking for 'a new adventure'? Staff wanted for New Zealand's base in Antarctica

Breanna Barraclough
Source: 1News

If Covid-19 has put your plans for overseas travel on ice, Antarctica New Zealand could scratch that itch — and you don't have to be a scientist.

They're looking to fill jobs for the upcoming summer season, some of which don't require much previous experience, according to Antarctica NZ chief executive Sarah Williamson.

"There's a whole raft of different roles that are offered... We need all the people you might need to run a small city," she told 1 NEWS.

Antarctica is a workplace like no other, with an average temperature of -19.8C, all-day sun for months on end and gusty winds of up to 180km/h.

It's also an opportunity to leave New Zealand during a time when borders around the world are shut or otherwise impacted by Covid-19.

Williamson says they're looking forward to recruiting from their "Kiwi bubble" this year.

"Covid will mean some people who would've been overseas might have to come home and might be looking for a new adventure. Certainly Antarctica can provide that."

All of the jobs ultimately support the work carried out by scientists from Scott Base, New Zealand's scientific base on Antarctica's Ross Island.

It means they're looking for people to take up jobs such as domestics and chefs, as well technical support, field trainers and others.

"We need water engineers and power engineers and half a dozen electricians and mechanics to make sure all of the equipment is top notch and ready to go. You can't afford to have it break down," Williamson says.

Erin Parlane is currently working at Scott Base as a domestic and planning to stay over winter as the base's sole medic.

It's her second time down, after working over last summer season too.

"Lots of people think I'm crazy for doing it," she says.

"I didn't feel like I'd had the full experience or quite finished down here, so I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to come back and to come back for winter.

"Very few people get to come down here and I felt blessed enough that I have a job that allows it."

As a domestic, it meant Parlane was one of those responsible for cleaning, laundry and other domestic duties around Scott Base.

"With climate change and all of the science that's going on today, it felt really like an opportunity to be involved with it indirectly," she says.

"I'm not a scientist, but it's really cool to have the opportunity to support that sort of thing going on... Even if it's just filling up the jam container or replacing the toilet paper, someone has to do it and to get to be the one to do it is pretty cool."

Both Parlane and Williamson say there's one requirement above all others if you want to work in the coldest, driest, most remote place in the world: a sense of adventure.

"Antarctica is a continent like no other. It's an absolutely incredible place to be. You want a sense of adventure," Williamson says.

You'll also need to be pretty good at problem-solving.

"It's often hard to get the stuff you need — can't pop down the road and find a hardware store or the supermarket," Williamson says.

"People are good at solving problems and making do with what they have is a great skill to have as well."

Parlane says passion is everything.

"I think it's not so much about your skillset, it's more about who you are as a person," she says.

"If you show that you're committed and have drive, that's the kind of person they want down here."

The recruitment underway now is for the summer season beginning in September, looking for staff to work over the next summer and winter period.

As well as a regular job interview, Parlane says people have to undergo a fairly intensive medical to make sure they're in top shape to live on the ice for months.

Williamson is hoping they'll be able to run a full season, unlike this summer's reduced work due to Covid-19.

They also want to make sure Scott Base and the continent stay free of the coronavirus.

"So there might be a need for people to spend some time in isolation before they head south, just to make sure we keep Covid out of the continent," Williamson says.

Around 26 fixed-term staff are employed over the summer season, according to Antarctica NZ, across base services, engineering and science programme support.

People can apply or find out more on the Antarctica NZ website .

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