NZ online groceries reach Antarctica

Popping down to the dairy for milk isn't an option for Christine Hush but through the web she now has greater access to supermarket shelves.

Popping down to the dairy for milk isn’t an option for Christine Hush but through the web she now has greater access to supermarket shelves.

Hush, who lives for now at the New Zealand base at McMurdo Sound, is one of at least 20 people in Antarctica ordering online from Blenheim-based thesupermarket.co.nz.

Hush found out about the service in magazine she was reading while waiting in Christchurch for transportation to McMurdo Base. Having spent the past eight summers working in Antarctica as a postmaster for Raytheon Polar Services, she knows how additional items can make life on the ice easier. This year she is wintering there for the first time and has found the website useful for stocking up.

She usually buys from the service every two weeks. Orders range in price from $80 to $300, plus $12 for transport.

Thesupermarket.co.nz general manager Warren McHugh says some weeks the service has orders from McMurdo every day. The e-tailer uses Courier Post to deliver orders to Christchurch from where they are transported on military aircraft at the expense of the National Science Foundation to McMurdo Base.

Apart from Antarctica, McHugh believes that 40% of the website's orders are from the rural sector. All domestic deliveries are handled by Courier Post and rural deliveries go through the Rural Post network. NZ Post handles all international orders. The standard delivery charge is $12 anywhere in New Zealand.

The McHugh family owns two grocery stores in the Blenheim area. It launched thesupermarket.co.nz last July.

Customers are given different ways to ship overseas and once their order is packed the supermarket.co.nz will advise on the weight and appropriate costs. Approximately 60% of customers are in the South Island and 40% are in the North Island.

The website was designed and is hosted by Dunedin-based Enabling Technologies.

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