A United States Air Force C-17 is to make the first flight to Antarctica for the season, ending six months of isolation for 14 New Zealanders at Scott Base.
The flight is due to leave Christchurch International Airport on Friday afternoon to begin Antarctica New Zealand's scientific programme and carry supplies to staff members.
The plane is expected to land at 8pm, when crew will be trialling night-vision goggles to land the plane.
Antarctica New Zealand's manager of Antarctic science, Ed Butler, says a successful landing in darkness at the coldest time of the year should mean year-round access to the base.
Mr Butler says it is the earliest in the season Antarctica New Zealand has sent a plane to Scott Base.