2007 Ross Dependency - 50th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition

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. 

Issue information

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.

Celebrating Achievement

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.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Beaver Aircraft' gummed stamp.

The expedition was supported with two single-engine aircraft: a Mk. VII Auster provided by the Royal New Zealand Air Force and a large Beaver bought jointly by the Ross Sea Committee and the New Zealand Government. Powered by special low-temperature fuel, the aircraft were used for supply drops, reconnaissance and depot-laying for the field parties.

$0.50
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Sledge' gummed stamp.

Experienced mountaineer and dog handler Harry Ayres (pictured on this stamp) was the first man to be named for the New Zealand support party. He was responsible for the dog teams in Antarctica, and made a number of sledging survey trips in the region, including to the Skelton Glacier – the route chosen for Hillary’s depot-laying party.

$1.00
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Sledge Dogs' gummed stamp.

Dogs were a vital part of the expedition, and were used extensively by geologists and surveyors on long field trips to remote areas of the Antarctic. Fed on a diet of dog pemmican (food made mainly of beef, dried fruit, and rendered fat) and seal meat, a team of eight dogs was capable of pulling a loaded sledge totalling 400 kilograms.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'TE20 Ferguson Tractor' gummed stamp.

The ‘Southern Tractor Party’ left Scott Base in October 1957 with 10 tonnes of cargo, three Ferguson tractors and a Weasel (tracked vehicle) in tow. They charted a route to the South Pole and cached supplies and food en-route, reaching the Pole on 4 January 1958.

$2.00
Single Stamp

Single $2.50 'HMNZS Endeavour' gummed stamp.

On 21 December 1956 the HMNZS Endeavour set sail from Wellington, New Zealand, carrying the Ross Sea support party and the transport needed to support their Antarctic attempt, including dogs, sno-cats, the famed Ferguson tractors and the Auster and Beaver aircraft. The 900-ton, wooden-hulled, ice-strengthened, wartime net-laying ship was built in 1944 and bought by the New Zealand Government for £20,000.

$2.50
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $4.50
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.00
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.00
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $25.90
Limited Edition Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else. $135.00

Technical information

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.