A National Geographic documentary series following Kiwi scientists in Antarctica premiered at Scott Base and in Christchurch this evening.

The documentary Continent 7: Antarctica, shot by three camera operators over seven weeks during New Zealand's 2015/16 Antarctic research season, may have proven one of the most challenging series ever made by the US-based organisation.

It offers a glance into the everyday operations of an Antarctic research base, and the challenges of working in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world.

Antarctica New Zealand staff work to keep New Zealand science operating, from contemplating how to drill holes in the Ross Ice Shelf, which can be up to hundreds of metres thick, to serving hot meals, gearing up, and guiding teams out onto the ice.


Throughout the series, research teams explore science that will lead to answers about how climate change in Antarctica could affect the rest of the world, particularly studying sea level rise.

They look at life of the mega-fauna, orcas and minke whales which migrate to the frozen continent each year, to the microbial life that exists in the unique, almost alien Dry Valleys.

The series also shows scientists carefully taking digital pictures of Scott's historic hut, and conducting a first-ever, in-depth MRI scan of Antarctica's active volcano Mt Erebus.

"The cameramen became a part of our family at Scott Base," Antarctica NZ chief executive Peter Beggs said.

"They truly understood our purpose, our values, our resource challenges and our unwavering commitment to health and safety across all of our operations."

To enable this series, last year National Geographic, Antarctica New Zealand and New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI) announced an unprecedented, cross-platform partnership.

"National Geographic's support has helped us launch some challenging new research expeditions deep into the interior of Antarctica to investigate how vulnerable Antarctica, its ice sheets and ice shelves are, as the Earth's oceans and atmosphere warm," NZARI director Professor Gary Wilson said.

"At the same time we hope to learn how the changing ice cover and temperatures will impact the fragile and iconic life of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean."


The global launch of the series hits screens around the world, including New Zealand, on National Geographic Channel 072, on November 15.

The series has a potential audience of 440 million in 171 countries and 45 languages.

A second season is currently being filmed at Scott Base.