Reports of a midwinter punch-up have been flying thicker than an Antarctic blizzard, but officials refuse to say why so many Americans have been evacuated from the ice.
A New Zealand Air Force Hercules made a dangerous 15-hour flight to Antarctica this week, initially to pick up sick and injured people.
However, it now appears that frosty relationships and a dose of cabin fever may be the real reason why air crews were asked to make the flight.
One evacuee is recovering in hospital, reportedly suffering from a black eye and broken facial bones.
The man refused to say how he had been injured.
Vivienne Allan, spokeswoman for Antarctica New Zealand, said the Air Force had been asked to provide a medical evacuation from McMurdo station and had done so.
An Air Force spokesman, Squadron Leader Ric Cullinane, said he could not comment on why the Americans were evacuated.
"The bottom line is, we just provide the trucks," he said.
"Someone said, 'Hey, we've got these people. Can you get them from McMurdo to Christchurch?'
"We had a look at it and said, 'Yes, we can do that'."
Squadron Leader Cullinane said "it was a bit like asking an ambulance driver about a patient," and so he would not say anything about the evacuees.
Reporters received a chilly reception when the Hercules landed at Christchurch.
All media were told to stay clear of the seven workers, who were spirited away from the plane.
John Sherve, the New Zealand manager for Raytheon, the private company that runs American bases on the ice, would not give the nature of the evacuees' illnesses, nor their conditions.
One man hurt his head in a fall and another is thought to be recovering from a heart attack.
The Herald understands that some of the other evacuees had resigned and one had been fired.
Mr Sherve would not comment on personnel issues, but said that some of the Americans had family emergencies and would be flown back to the US.