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Kiwis set off on major traverse across Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf

Six New Zealanders have just begun an almighty traverse in Antarctica, towing 100 tonnes of material across the Ross Ice Shelf.

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It’s one of just a handful of Antarctic operations approved this season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

It's one of just a handful of Antarctic operations approved this season because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Out where they're going, there's not a whole lot of stimulus," engineering solutions manager Jonathan Leitch told 1 NEWS.

"It's a big flat white nothing, you're basically in your own little bubble, where you can see the horizon of flatness."

It's a sight old Antarctic explorers could only dream of: a giant pistenbully dragging an armada of sleds into the great expanse, under the shadow of a New Zealand flag.

The small team are travelling more than 2000 kilometres across the Ross Ice Shelf and back at speeds of just five to 15 kilometres an hour.

They're carrying gear for long-term science operations and, for the first time, proper accommodation.

"In the past they've been sleeping in the back of pistonbullies. This year they'll have beds and literally a kitchen sink and a shower, which will be really great news and make the journey much more comfortable," Antarctica NZ chief executive Sarah Williamson says.

The big green travelling box has been designed to keep the team well-rested.

They'll need their wits about them.

"They've got shear zones, which is where there is lots of shears in the ice and creveasses form, and they've got to avoid all those hazards and drive around them," Leitch says. 

They'll have a couple of extra tasks too.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Antarctica NZ to leave most scientists at home this season.

"As they go [they'll] see if they can take some readings along the way, so the scientists have let the traverse team know what information they want to gather as they go," Williamson says.

All up, the trip will take 45 days, which means Christmas on the ice. 

Leitch says they've been given "a few extra treats" for the occasion, including ham and salmon.

By that time, they'll be alone on one the most remote parts of the planet, so a little festive cheer will probably go a long way.