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'Hundreds' of Icebergs Drift Toward New Zealand Coast November 27, 2009
Iceberg floating past Macquarie Island
One of the icebergs floating past Macquarie Island this week, possibly on its way toward southern New Zealand.
A veritable armada of icebergs appears to be advancing toward southern New Zealand after splitting from a massive ice floe that broke off from Antarctica years ago.

“This certainly appears to be bigger than the 2006 event,” said oceanographer Mike Williams of the country’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research.

The icebergs were first spotted by a tourist ship sailing around the Auckland Islands, nearly 300 miles to the south of New Zealand’s South Island.

Williams told Radio New Zealand the icebergs are probably parts of six very large icebergs that broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf between 2000 and 2002.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said more than 100 icebergs, some more than 650 feet wide, were seen in just one cluster.

He said that indicates there could possibly be hundreds more not visible in satellite imagery.

Whether the floating chunks of ice actually make it to the coast depends on wind and ocean currents the cluster encounters over the next few weeks.

In 2006, a number of icebergs floated to about 15 miles off the New Zealand coast — the first such occurrence since 1931.

Photo: Brett Quinton - Australian Antarctic Division