Icebergs South of New Zealand


Australian Antarctic Division seal biologists were the first to photograph several large icebergs off the coasts of Macquarie Island. Since the beginning of November these icebergs have been pushed north by winds and ocean currents to be within 250 km of New Zealand.

You can find out more on the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre website.

Map showing the likely current location of the recently discovered icebergs.

How big are they?

The largest iceberg sighted was up to 2 km long, around 500 m across and 50 m above sea level, meaning a total thickness of 350 m. This covers an area of about 100 rugby fields. Since then the icebergs have been melting and splitting, so the ones closest to New Zealand are now around 100 m long.

Where did they come from?

We can't be sure, but they are likely to be part of a much larger iceberg that calved off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. This ice shelf experienced a major break up between 2000 and 2002, and was the source of the last major iceberg to visit New Zealand. Typically icebergs can take 2 years or more to work their way out of the Ross Sea into the Southern Ocean, but can become grounded in shallow waters delaying their release.

How does this compare to the 2006 iceberg?

These icebergs are in the same place and about the same size as the ones that visited New Zealand in 2006. There is every chance that they may follow the same path, but this remains to be seen.

Find out more about icebergs

Close-up of iceberg off the northern tip of Macquarie Island Taken 5 November 2009 © Tessa Bickford/Australian Antarctic Division.


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