Plaque to NZers killed while working in Antarctica

Plaque to New Zealanders killed in Antarctica: Lieutenant Tom Couzens (19/11/59); Jeremy Sykes (19/11/69); Terry Newport and Garth Varcoe (13/10/92). It lies beneath the flagpole at Scott Base.

Helicopter crash

On 13 October 1992 New Zealanders Garth Varcoe and Terry Newport were killed in a helicopter crash 40 km from Scott Base. They were returning to McMurdo Station in a US Navy helicopter after rebuilding the hut at a summer research station, Cape Bird. The weather deteriorated during their journey and the helicopter struck an icy slope above a 10 m ice cliff. Varcoe, Newport and Ben Micou, a US Navy helicopter mechanic, were thrown from the helicopter and killed as it slid towards the rocks below. The pilot and co-pilot, also of the US Navy, survived but lay waiting for help, rescue efforts hampered by poor visibility.

Newport, a summer carpenter, had only worked in Antarctica since August that year - fulfilling what was reportedly a longstanding ambition. Varcoe had a much longer Antarctic career - it was his 37th visit. His first was in 1978 as the buildings and services officer of the Antarctic Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. In 1990 Varcoe was awarded the Polar Medal in recognition of his contribution to the New Zealand Antarctic Research Programme.

Other NZ fatalities

Varcoe and Newport are commemorated on a plaque beneath the flagpole at Scott Base. Also remembered are two other New Zealand fatalities in Antarctica, engineer Thomas Couzens and National Film Unit cameraman Jeremy Sykes. Couzens was killed in 1959 when the Sno-Cat he was driving fell into a 30-m deep crevice. Sykes was killed in a helicopter accident in 1969. Their names have also been given to geographical features in Antarctica: Varcoe Headland, Newport Bay, Couzens Bay and Couzens Saddle, Sykes Glacier.

Further information


  • David L. Harrowfield, Call of the Ice: Fifty years of New Zealand in Antarctica, David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, 2007


Community contributions

No comments have been posted about Plaque to NZers killed while working in Antarctica

What do you know?