It took two countries to get it started, two teams to make it happen and 99 days to complete, but on 2 March 1958 Sir Vivian Fuchs – with help from New Zealand – achieved his goal of making the first successful overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole.
Travelling a distance of 3,473 kilometres, this awesome achievement was a superb finish to the adventure officially called the ‘Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition’.
Fifty years later, we celebrated this magnificent milestone with a selection of Ross Dependency collectables that reflected both the drama and the significance of the event.
Led by Sir Vivian and launched in the United Kingdom in 1954 (with Queen Elizabeth II as Patron), the expedition was backed by the New Zealand Government to the tune of £50,000 – half of the British Government’s contribution. With Fuchs and his team planning to start from the Weddell Sea, New Zealand established a Ross Sea support party, led by Sir Edmund Hillary, that was charged with building a base at McMurdo Sound, laying supply depots and establishing a vehicle route from the Polar Plateau through the Western mountains and back to Ross Island.
Battling the Elements
All five stamps were displayed on the first day cover and two on the miniature sheet first day cover. Appropriately set against the icy Antarctic environment, they captured the rugged conditions in which the expedition took place.
The expedition success was a magnificent achievement, and one in which New Zealand was proud to play it's part. You could read more about our involvement in the commemorative presentation pack, which included the five stamps, first day cover, miniature sheet and miniature sheet first day cover.
The Ultimate Collector's Collectable
New Zealand Post only produces limited editions for collections that it deems worthy of the privilege – and the 2007 Ross Dependency - 50th Anniversary of The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition was one of those. Each individually numbered and authenticated limited edition contained the full set of stamps plus comprehensive – and fascinating – commentary from David Harrowfield, who has written five books on New Zealand’s Antarctic programme. Only 2,000 limited editions were available worldwide.
Ross Dependency Postage in New Zealand
|Ross Dependency stamps are not valid for postage in New Zealand. Click here to find out more.|
Product Listing for 2007 Ross Dependency - 50th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition
Click on image to enlarge.
|Issue date:||7 November 2007|
|Number of stamps:||Five gummed stamps|
|Denominations:||50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50|
|Stamps and first day cover designed by:||Cue Design, Wellington|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print, New Zealand by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Black plus one special colour|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104 gsm red phosphor stamp paper|
|Stamp size and format:||30mm x 40mm (horizontal)|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Perforation gauge:||14 x 14|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 6 November 2008.|