An igloo fit for an Army

An igloo fit for an Army

November 2010, Antarctica. The Light Engineering Team undertaking their Field Training and building an igloo for overnight accommodation. (WN10-0005-073)

12 November 2010

The New Zealand Army’s Light Engineering Team recently undertook Field Training on the ice in Antarctica, creating the best igloo their field trainer had ever seen.

The four engineers had to sledge-haul their gear 5kms to the training site, and despite two of them never having been on skis before, New Zealand Defence Force Senior National Officer Lieutenant Commander David Washer says they picked up the technique quickly.

“Upon arrival, with no tent, they had to set about building an igloo to act as their overnight accommodation, and building an igloo is not as easy as it seems.”

“The blocks of ice have to be carefully cut to fit into place and the whole thing has to be constructed so that it slopes in at the right curvature to form a perfect half globe.  Any deviation from perfection will cause the structure to collapse, which is not an ideal way to be woken in the middle of the night.”

“Armed with a vital piece of advice from their field trainer, Andy Cole, on how a line can be used to ensure the perfect shape, the team set to work and with their professional building skills clearly evident, made the best igloo Mr Cole said he’d ever seen,” said LTCDR Washer.

The Engineering Team has built steps, turned containers into accommodation and built field toilets at the US McMurdo Base during their four weeks on the ice, and will return to New Zealand this week.


The New Zealand Defence Force contributes up to 90 personnel and up to ten Royal New Zealand Air Force return flights to OPERATION ANTARCTICA each summer season.  The NZDF provides support to the New Zealand and United States Antarctica programmes that includes planning, freight movement, headquarters roles, offload of supply ships, and engineering.

For further information contact Nicole Munro, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 148.

This page was last reviewed on 17 January 2011.