A snapshot of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic
party, taken as the Terra Nova was about to leave Lyttelton
on the journey south in 1910. In the group are the four men
who perished on their return from the South Pole: Captain
Scott (1), Dr Wilson (2), Lieutenant Bowers (3) and Captain
Oates (4). - Otago Witness, 19.2.1913. Copies of picture
available from ODT front officer, lower Stuart St, or
Oamaru (February 10): Early this morning a report was
current that the Antarctic exploration vessel the Terra Nova
had paid a visit to Oamaru.
At first the statement was received with incredulity, but any
doubt was dispelled when the steamer Ngatoro arrived at 9
o'clock and reported having passed the Terra Nova about five
miles away, passing northwards.
About 2 a.m. a ship appeared in the offing, and Mr McKinnon,
the lighthouse keeper and night watchman, thinking that the
Ngatoro might have arrived earlier than expected, set the
signals against her.
A reply was received that a boat was being sent ashore, and
shortly afterwards a boat containing four men was discerned
in the harbour, and the occupants were by signal directed to
the landing at one of the wharves.
To the inquiry ''What ship,'' no reply was forthcoming, and
the watchman sought information in another direction by
turning his lantern on to the boat.
He was greeted with the assurance ''It is no use looking for
any name there,'' and my informant tells me that if the boat
had ever borne a name it had been painted out.
The watchman insisted on being given the name, and threatened
to invoke the aid of the police, but he was met with a
declaration that he would get no information out of them
though he called in the police, the Customs officer, the
harbourmaster, or anyone else that he like to call to his
Then, two of the mysterious visitors stepped ashore, and the
remaining two in the boat pulled off, and the vessel started
out to sea.
As to the two strangers who had landed, the official told
them that they could not leave until he had communicated with
the harbourmaster, and this led to the information being
elicited by them that the ear of the harbourmaster could be
reached by telephone.
The strangers asked that they might do this themselves, and
were conducted to the office telephone. Even there the
watchman was denied any chance of piercing the mystery, for
he was coolly told that he must go outside, as they wanted to
have a private communication with the harbourmaster.
Mr M'Kinnon's response was a threat to put the men under
arrest until Captain Ramsay arrived, but that threat was not
put into execution.
What passed over the wire cannot be said, but the explanation
was evidently satisfactory, for the sequel was that the
strangers were directed to Captain Ramsay's residence. I have
interviewed Captain Ramsay, who frankly admitted that the
visitors were officers of the Terra Nova expedition.
I pressed for further information, but the only reply given
was ''I am under a pledge of secrecy, and I must be a man and
keep my word as to who they really were or what their purpose
was in landing at Oamaru.''
• Christchurch (February 19): The Terra Nova has
returned much earlier than was expected. It was given out
that the Terra Nova would return to New Zealand some time in
March, and indeed Mrs Scott, wife of the leader of the
expedition, who left San Francisco a few days ago on her way
out to meet her husband, confirmed that statement.
It may be, of course, that the Terra Nova on arriving at the
base found the whole party waiting and everything in
readiness for an immediate return.
The men who arrived from Oamaru tonight are Lieut. Pennell
and Dr Atkinson. They state that nothing can be divulged
about the expedition until the cable message to the Central
News agency has been given 24 hours' start.
Both men looked in excellent health, but when asked as to the
health of the other members of the party Lieut. Pennell said:
''I can't even tell you that. As I said before, Captain Scott
is the only man who can tell you the story. Captain Scott has
arranged to supply an account of the expedition to the New
When? - Well, 24 hours after it has reached London.
- ODT, 11.2.1913.