The RV Tangaroa, the research vessel of the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), was built in 1991 in Norway.

An ice-strengthened, deep-water research vessel, the ship’s facilities are designed support marine science in the Southern Ocean environment.

In Maori mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the sea.


  • Research Vessel (RV)
  • DNV — 1A1 (stern trawler/research vessel) + Ice 1C (light ice: ice floes up to 0.4 metres thick)
  • main engines: Wartsila Vasa 8R 32D 2 999 kilowatts
  • length: 70 metres
  • breadth: 13.8 metres
  • capacity: 2291 tons (gross)
  • 26 passengers, 18 crew

Key Antarctic voyages

The Tangaroa was chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division for one voyage during the 1999–2000 season. The purpose of this voyage was to conduct a range of geoscientific research programs with scientists from the Italian Observatorio Geofisico Sperimentale.

In 2015, the Tangaroa travelled through the Southern Ocean to the Ross Sea on the Australia-New Zealand Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage, a collaboration between Antarctica New Zealand, the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and the Australian Antarctic Division. Research focused on the feeding areas of blue whales and humpback whales, to better understand factors affecting their numbers and distribution.

Current life

As NIWA’s flagship, the Tangaroa continues to provide support for New Zealand environmental survey and ocean science throughout the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.