25 Feb 2014

Ship with minister on board forced back

10:28 pm on 25 February 2014

A big storm has forced a scientific expedition to the sub-Antarctic islands to turn back to New Zealand.

The HMNZS Wellington.

The HMNZS Wellington. Photo: DEFENCE FORCE

The HMNZS Wellington left Bluff on Sunday on its annual service trip to the Bounty, Antipodes, Campbell, Auckland and Snares islands. Conservation Minister Nick Smith is among those on board.

Captain Phil Rowe said on Tuesday that the ship's crew coped well in the hurricane strength storm.

"It gets unnerving at times but the ship's designed to take this weather and I've put every bit of faith in the crew and we came out the other end. This morning we got up and the sun is shining and the albatrosses are around for a great day."

Some crew were forced to go to bed due to sea sickness in 14-metre swells, he said.

Dr Smith was expected to launch a new pest control programme and formally open three new marine reserves during the expedition.