17 Jan 2013

PM's visit to Antarctica delayed

8:45 pm on 17 January 2013

The Prime Minister is expected to leave for Antarctica on Friday morning for the start of a three-day visit.

John Key was supposed to leave on Thursday night but bad weather postponed his departure.

His three-day trip will include a visit to the South Pole and the return of three historically important bottles of Mackinlay's whisky discovered in ice under Ernest Shackleton's hut in 2007 and retrieved in 2010.

In January last year three bottles were flown to the owners of the Mackinlay brand in Scotland for scientific analysis and the whisky was recreated.

Mr Key will also attend Scott Base's 56th birthday party, host a dinner for Americans in Antarctica and take part in the unveiling of a pou, or wooden pole, which will mark the entrance to the base.

The Prime Minister is also likely to face questioning from scientists about protecting Antarctica's Ross Sea, with many angry that New Zealand continues to endorse fishing in the area.