Dylan Robinson won’t be popping down to The Plaza to get his Secret Santa present this year.
Instead, he will be heading to the workshops at Scott Base in Antarctica to make something for the colleague he has drawn.
Lance Corporal Dylan Robinson has been at New Zealand’s Antarctic research station for three months.
The Ashhurst man is an engineer plant operator in the 2nd Engineer Regiment at Linton Military Camp.
A storm was going through the day Robinson spoke to the Manawatū Guardian via phone.
The day before it had reached 3C, “in the positives”. This was a lot warmer than the day he first arrived in September, when it was -43C - “pretty chilly”.
Stepping off the plane, the chill took his breath away and the hairs in his nostrils froze.
He has had three or four days when he couldn’t go outside, as the snow was so bad he couldn’t see more than 30 metres in front of him.
As well as exchanging gifts on Christmas Day, Robinson will do some skiing and is expecting to consume a feast.
He says his role at Scott Base is like liquorice allsorts, with no two days the same.
One day he could be clearing snow, and on another be setting up camp for scientists or collecting and compacting rubbish to send back home.
The 24-year-old could be helping scientists looking at algae or towing a cable drum.
It is Robinson’s first time in Antarctica, and he was nervous going over the transition - where the frozen sea meets the land - for the first time. He had to navigate tidal cracks caused by the high and low tides.
The ice has started to melt, and in a couple of months Robinson expects the ocean to be visible from Scott Base, with whales and penguins arriving.
It is daylight 24 hours a day at the moment, which causes Robinson to sometimes lose track of time. He has even been skiing at 10.30pm.
A highlight was going by helicopter to Cape Crozier at the most easterly point of Ross Island and seeing the Adélie and emperor penguins.
Robinson has also been to the United States’ McMurdo Station. He got to go under the sea ice, climbing down a tube into a fish tank-like structure. While under the ice, he could hear seals calling each other.
In Antarctica, he works six days a week, with Sundays off. He is hoping to get two-and-a-half days off at Christmas and time off at New Year.
He is enjoying the variety Antarctica offers, as well as meeting scientists and people from around the world.
He never gets bored when he’s off duty, with Nintendo Wii, movies, and quiz nights on offer.
Robinson joined the army in 2018 for adventure and experience and to gain a raft of specialist driving licences. He was farming beforehand.
Robinson is missing his family, his Huntaway Hootie, and summer.
He wanted to give a shout-out to his mother, father, family and the community of Ashhurst.
He will return home in March.