Fixed Site Services


Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base was commissioned in 1957 and from then until the NZPO break up in 1987 the NZPO provided staff to perform Postmaster and Technical services for the base. Initial services were HF telegraphy via Awarua Radio and later grew to become machine teleprinter and voice sideband with speech privacy via other NZPO stations.

Campbell Island

Following on from its use as a Coastwatcher role during WWII it was decided the weather reporting function had been most valuable and that the site should be maintained as a Meteorological Station. Initially communication was via Awarua Radio using HF telegraphy, then as equipment evolved became HF voice services via other NZPO stations.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound was originally only accessible by foot over what is now the Milford Track, or by boat. Road access was not available until 1954 when the Homer Tunnel was finally completed. Milford grew as a tourist destination and the NZPO established a Post Office there. The Postmaster used radio communications via Awarua Radio for contact with the outside world. With commissioning of the Homer Tunnel telephone-wired contact became possible and radio services gradually diminished in importance.


Tracks had existed to Haast for some time but the first road access from Wanaka to Haast was completed in 1962. To the north a cattle track had existed for many years until it was replaced by a coastal road established in 1965. The NZPO operated a Post Office in Haast where the Postmaster had radio communication via Awarua Radio.

Lighthouse Stations

Awarua Radio provided radio contact for Marine Department lighthouses around the south coast. Apart from domestic needs the lighthouse keepers were also responsible for providing regular weather reports to the NZ Meterological Office in Wellington. The lighthouses were at Waipapa Point, Dog Island, Center Island and Puysegur Point.

Backup Services

Backup communications services were provided to southern New Zealand remote sites for use in the event that their main communications system failed. Basic telegraph and later AM voice radio equipment was held at Post Offices on Stewart Island, Milford Sound and Haast until these were superseded by other communication systems.

Penrod 74

In 1984 communications support was provided to the Penrod 74 Oil Rig and its Polar Bear and Grizzly Bear tenders during the period Hunt Petrolium was drilling for oil in the Great South Basin [Wikipedia: Great South Basin].  [Rig Image: article]

As well as direct HF radio services to the rig and vessels, the Radio Depot established radio linking equipment on Bluff Hill (Southland) and Mt Allen (Stewart Island), plus provided servicing for the rig's HF radio.

Comment by Rex Johnson: In those pre-GPS days the Penrod 74 rig location 'way down south' was determined by radio-location from two VHF or UHF sites in New Zealand. The rig company established these sites at the east and west edges of the lower South Island, these being at Waipapa Point Lighthouse and at Puysegur Point lighthouse. In a service visit I made to Puysegur Point I saw the transmitter and its operator were located in a tent erected on a narrow strip of land between the lighthouse and a steep cliff above the sea. The tent was of thick canvas and had 4x2 inch timbers for vertical poles and its horizontal ridgepole, plus had inch thick heavy rope guys, stays and cross lashings. That job must have paid well because it looked like a miserable place to live and work!