Travelling to Antarctica
Tourism is on the rise and changing in the Antarctic.
In the 1980s, only around 2,000 travellers visited this pristine yet fragile and dangerous region each year. In 2017-18, approximately 50,000 tourists visited the continent, with several trips departing from New Zealand’s shores.
As a party to the Antarctic Treaty System, New Zealand is required to minimise the environmental impact of travellers to the region. We do this by:
- Ensuring any activities are safe and environmentally responsible.
- Limiting visits to sites where cumulative activity will lead to their deterioration.
- Opposing the expansion of permanent or semi-permanent land-based tourism in Antarctica, especially in the Ross Dependency.
- Providing only humanitarian assistance and basic hospitality for tourist and non-governmental expeditions.
The full text of the 2003 New Zealand Policy Statement on Tourism and Other Non-Governmental Activities in Antarctica is available here [PDF, 119 KB].
The Antarctic Treaty has guidelines for visitors and tour operators to the Antarctic. These provide direction on limiting the effect on the environment and wildlife, staying safe and respecting scientific activities. It's important that these guidelines are followed. Tour operators must also make certain preparations before departure, which include advising MFAT of travel plans and getting Ministerial permission.