New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

2017 Historic Huts of the Ross Dependency

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New Zealand Post teamed up with the Antarctic Heritage Trust and artist Sean Garwood to produce some stunning stamps. They featured Sean’s paintings and celebrated the historic huts of Antarctica and the incredible men who built them.

Issue information

Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton have had their names and their achievements forever immortalised in history. The heroic feats of both of these men helped to pave the way for future exploration and study of the icy continent in the Geographic South Pole. The huts left behind from their various explorations have now been taken into the care of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. A plan was made to restore and conserve the individual huts, each one needed weatherproofing and repairs of some sort. Terra Nova being the largest of the three huts took seven years to be fully repaired, and all of its 11,000 artefacts conserved.

Ongoing funding has been set up to ensure the prolonged protection and preservation of these incredible reminders of historic exploration achievements.

First Day Cover

The painting featured as the backdrop for the first day cover is Sir Ernest Shackleton. Here the reflection of the great explorer can be seen peering out across the inhospitable landscape that he explored and miraculously, against extreme odds, survived and returned to for multiple explorations until his final journey in 1922. This rudimentary, prefabricated hut nestled in the long shadow cast by Mt Erebus, is roughly a mere 10 metres long and around 5.7 metres wide. It was to be the home base for the party of 14 men that made up Shackleton’s shore party. Many accomplishments were made on this expedition, such as being the first to climb Mt Erebus, however the much sought after title of being the first to the South Pole was abandoned when horrific weather forced the men to turn back just 156 kilometres from their target. 

Miniature Sheet First Day Cover

The painting shown in the background of the miniature sheet first day cover depicts a well worn pair of leather hobnail boots. Multiple pairs of these hardy shoes were found littering Nimrod hut, most had been so well worn that they had the appearance of a second skin, each boot creased and moulded to its owner’s foot. While many types of footwear were used during early Antarctic explorations such as ski boots or crampons, the leather hobnail boots were the go to for daily use around the hut. 

Miniature Sheet

In the top right hand corner of the miniature sheet, Captain Robert Scott’s ship from the 1910 expedition, the Terra Nova, can be seen battling its way through the turbulent Southern Ocean. The ship came very close to being lost when the crew encountered a ferocious storm. The already overloaded ship was struggling greatly with handling and buoyancy. The 25 year old ship had a tendency to take on water, a situation made much worse by the momentous waves crashing across the deck. Cargo was being washed overboard or battered around the deck, one of the dogs, Osman, became somewhat of a legend after being washed overboard by one wave and then dropped back on deck again by the next. 

Presentation Pack

The presentation pack contained detailed information about each hut and each painting used in the stamps. The full image of each painting featured in this stamp issue could be seen with its name beneath it. Quotes from Scott and Shackleton’s wife give an inside look into the real struggles the men faced while they were living on the ice.

Whether you’re an avid collector of all things Antarctica or simply appreciate incredible works of art, this detailed pack would have made an amazing gift or edition to a pre-existing collection. 

Limited Edition

The limited edition had been written by the Antarctic Heritage Trust and contained all six stamps, a colour separation of the $3.30 stamp, and a specially numbered first day cover that had been signed by Nigel Watson, the Executive Director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

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 2017 Historic Huts of the Ross Dependency

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Scott’s Discovery Hut' gummed stamp.

Scott established this base for the National Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition 1901–1904. It was the first hut to be erected on Ross Island and became an important staging post for every subsequent heroic-era expedition. Built of Douglas fir and Scots pine, it was designed in Australia and resembles an outback house with large verandas. The hut turned out to be too hard to heat so the men lived aboard the Discovery and used the hut for scientific observations and other work.  

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Man’s Best Friend, Discovery Hut' gummed stamp.

A nip of Cognac would undoubtedly have been welcome after being out in the harsh Antarctic environment. The hut was used to store supplies for the 47 men and their animals. Spratt’s dog biscuits, preserved cabbage, mutton carcasses, baking powder, oatmeal, gooseberry jam, cocoa, and split peas were just some of the still preserved items found during conservation work on the hut. Many of the provisions had been taken on board in Lyttelton, the New Zealand port from which Discovery sailed for Antarctica.  

Single Stamp

Single $2.20 'Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut' gummed stamp.

Sir Ernest Shackleton landed at Cape Royds on 3 February 1908 on his expedition ship Nimrod. Prevented by thick sea ice from reaching Ross Island’s Hut Point, he settled for this site, 32 kilometres further north. The men built the hut in just 10 days. Made of fir, it was pre-fabricated in London and was able to be insulated with cork. It was sited in a sheltered area below a ridge of volcanic rock, with Mt Erebus towering over it in the distance.  

Single Stamp

Single $2.30 'Thank You Mrs Sam, Nimrod Hut' gummed stamp.

Mrs Sam’s stove was kept going 24 hours a day and provided enough heat to keep the temperature inside the hut at 16–21 degrees celsius. The stove burned anthracite coal and used less than 254 kilograms per week. It certainly improved the men’s living conditions, making it possible to provide hot meals and fresh bread every day, hot baths, and the ability to dry their clothes. Sufficient ice could be melted for the daily needs of the men and the ponies.  

Single Stamp

Single $2.70 'Scott’s Terra Nova Hut' gummed stamp.

The Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans (named after Scott’s ship) is from where Scott and his Polar Party departed in their quest to be the first to reach the Geographic South Pole. Scott reached his goal only to find that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had got there first. This is the largest of the historic huts and it has come to symbolise the hardship and heroism of early Antarctic exploration.  

Single Stamp

Single $3.30 'Dearest, Terra Nova Hut' gummed stamp.

The expedition had its own post office, approved by the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department, but letters were collected and delivered only once a year, when the ship returned from New Zealand after the winter. Expedition members often wrote letters back home. Family and friends were told about day-to-day life, whereas business partners and scientific advisers were sent updates on the progress of the expedition. The embossed, printed crest on this envelope reads: ‘British Antarctic Expedition Terra Nova R.Y.S.’ 

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $13.50
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $14.00
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $14.00
Presentation Pack

The epic achievements of Scott and Shackleton were covered in even more detail in this remarkable presentation pack. Sean Garwood’s paintings were revealed in their full glory with extra detail about the subject of each artwork. This presentation pack was a splendid collectable for anyone interested in the history of Antarctica, exploration or striking works of art. The pack contained a set of stamps, miniature sheet and first day cover.

Still available to purchase. Click here.

Limited Edition

The Antarctic Heritage Trust played a huge part in putting together this stamp issue. The copy in this limited edition was written by them, so all of the content was of very high quality. This limited edition contained all six stamps, a colour separation of the $3.30 stamp, and a specially numbered first day cover that had been signed by Nigel Watson, the Executive Director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Still available to purchase. Click here.


Technical information

Date of issue: 20 September 2017
Number of stamps: Six gummed
Denominations: $1.00, $2.00, $2.20, $2.30, $2.70 & $3.30
Stamps designed by: Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Paintings by: Artist - Sean Garwood, Nelson, New Zealand 
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours (CMYK)
Stamp size and format: 36.95mm x 37.5mm (vertical)
Miniature sheet size: 214.75mm x 217.5mm 
Paper type:  Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.62
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 19 September 2018. First day covers remained on sale until 19 November 2017.