Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stressed the importance of New Zealand maintaining its strong connection with Antarctica as other countries contest territory in the region.
Ardern is in Antarctica and spent yesterday visiting areas away from Scott Base, including the Terra Nova and Shackleton huts, and the Dry Valley.
Referring to the Antarctic Treaty, she said the greatest risk to it was anything that challenged the principles of the co-operation.
She said various parts of the world were "becoming increasingly contested" and Antarctica was not immune to that.
"It's incredibly important that New Zealand maintains its strong position over the role it plays here and over the Ross Dependency, but it's also important that we maintain our position of peace, environmental protection, and research."
Ardern had spoken to scientists who had been examining the geology and landscape of Antarctica.
She said those on the ground praised how active New Zealand had been in the area.
"You constantly hear, of course, about New Zealand punching above its weight, but here in a place on Earth where there are a number of countries that stake claims and have different interests, different research programmes.
"It's been interesting here to talk to a few individuals who do hail from other countries who say that New Zealanders have a much closer connection to Antarctica, in many ways, than other countries."
She said those who had worked at the base for multiple seasons had described to her the changes over the past five years.
"They see the sea ice cracking or moving, what changes they're seeing in the glaciers or in icebergs, and of course that just reinforces what we're hearing. When you come down and see the vastness of this place you can appreciate a degree or two will have a phenomenal impact on the world."
In addition to checking in on science programmes, Ardern also visited Sir Ernest Shackleton's hut.
She was photographed reading Sir Ranulph Fiennes' biography of the explorer on the flight over, and described Shackleton as a childhood hero.
"I think when you're a kid and you read stories about Shackleton you'd never imagine that you'd have the opportunity to come, so I feel pretty lucky."
She said Shackleton's name became synonymous with leadership because he saved his men.
"He knew success would come down to his ability to keep the team together in really hard times, so there's a lot to take away in that."
Ardern was asked if she took any particular inspiration from Shackleton.
"I don't think I can quite compare government with the hardship and endurance of Antarctic exploration, but some days..."