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Icebergs Become Tourist Attraction Off New Zealand Coast

Earth News: New Zealand

Wellington (AFP) Nov 15, 2006
Two icebergs drifting off the New Zealand coast have attracted massive interest from sightseers as well as sparking fresh warnings to shipping after their 13,500 kilometre journey from Antarctica. The icebergs were about 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the Otago coast in the south-east of the country Wednesday, the closest sighting off New Zealand for 75 years, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said.
Helicopters have been taking scientists and sightseers out to view the massive slabs of ice. One is about 500 metres (1,600 feet) long, 50 metres wide and 60 metres high, while the other has a 100 metre high peak and is about 300 metres long.
The icebergs, accompanied by smaller chunks of ice, are considered unlikely to come close to land.
"From what we saw, they are melting fairly quickly and they are drifting a mile or two a day," Craig Purdie of Otago University told Radio New Zealand Thursday.
He added the icebergs were drifting further east away from the coast, although they could be affected by changing winds.
NIWA marine physicist Dr Mike Williams said the icebergs had drifted 13,500 kilometres from the Ronne Ice Shelf on the far side of Antarctica. Their journey started six years ago when a massive iceberg 167 kilometres long and 32 kilometres wide broke off the ice shelf.
Fishermen spotted the two icebergs on Tuesday night and Maritime New Zealand issued a fresh warning, although the area is not a busy shipping lane.

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