16 Feb 2011

Families visit site of Erebus disaster

9:51 pm on 16 February 2011

Relatives of some of those killed in the Erebus disaster have visited the site in Antarctica where their their loved-ones died.

Some 257 people perished when an Air New Zealand plane crashed into Mt Erebus on 29 November 1979.

At Scott Base, 104 family members attended a memorial service led by the Dean of Christchurch Peter Beck on Wednesday.

It is the second time relatives have visited Antarctica. The first trip was in late 2009 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the disaster which remains New Zealand's worst aviation accident.

Philippa Lewis, who lost her brother and niece in the crash, said it was a privilege to take the trip.

Ms Lewis said the upper reaches of the mountain was covered in cloud but they saw the strip where the plane went in.

Andrew Bond lost his mother and father and says he was grateful to see the place where they died.

"To know that their last moments were in some ways so beautiful and special and to be able to come and experience that is something I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my days."

The families were forced to leave early due to incoming fog and were expected to arrive in Christchurch late on Wednesday night.

Representatives of all but 20 of the victims' families have now been taken to Antarctica.