South-African National Antarctic Programme
Home > Stations > Gough Island > Life at the base

Gough Island - Life at the base

History          Life at the base          Teams          Newsletters          Weather          Gallery

Gough House

Gough House

The Island...

Gough Island is a British possession, forming part of the Dependency of Tristan da Cunha, and is uninhabited save for the meteorological station manned by 6 South Africans. The site of the meteorological station is leased as part of an agreement between South Africa and the United Kingdom.

In 1993 Gough island and its surrounding waters out to three nautical miles were proclaimed a Wildlife Reserve and subsequently during 1996 granted "World heritage Site" status.

The Island has been little affected by human activities and is therefore a resource of great conservation and scientific research significance. Its land and seabird communities are especially significant. The Wildlife Reserve has benefited from having a formal management plan that proscribes human activities within it, in order to conserve the Island's indigenous biota and natural environment to the greatest degree possible.

Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha Island


Gough is more or less oblong in shape with a major axis of about 14.5 km extending NW to SE and a lesser axis at right angles thereto ± 6.5 km at the most. The highest peak rises 910 m above sea level.

The Island, some 350 km S-SE of Tristan da Cunha rises, like Marion Island, abruptly and steeply from the sea with a rugged rocky coastline. Around it there are several pillars of spires of rock extending vertically from the sea. Gough is much more overgrown with vegetation than Marion

The slopes of the Island's topography are densely covered with moss, grass and ferns.

Gough Island
Gough Island Topography

Go to the Gallery for more Landscape pictures...


Gough has an abundant bird life. There are, for instance, the Wandering Albatross, yellow-nosed Albatross, sub-Antarctic Skua, the flightless Gough island Rail, Buntings, Terns, Petrels and Prions. Rockhopper Penguins are often referred to as the little chaps in dress suits. The rare beaches are packed with fur seals and the occasional elephant seal. Both at Gough and neighbouring Tristan da Cunha there are also excellent crayfish beds.

Go to our Gallery for more Fauna and Flora pictures...


When one considers the climate it becomes clearer why the vegetation is so different from that on marion, although both lie in the belt of gales of the "roaring forties" with the never-ending low-pressure system (depressions), which pass mainly south of the Islands. The mean annual rainfall of Gough is, however, considerably higher, ± 3120 mm compared to the ± 2500 mm of Marion.

Furthermore, the average annual temperature of 11.5°C is bout 6°C higher than that of Marion. occasionally it becomes quite warm on Gough, with the mercury rising above 15°C. The lower st temperature is approximately 0°C and on rare occasions a degree or two below freezing.

Wandering Albatross chick
Wandering Albatross chick


The base itself is quite old with a lot of character and a very homely atmosphere. Still it provides for a very comfortable stay.

Water is filtered from a mountain river and the supply is sufficient for all purposes including drinking. Electricity is generated with a diesel generator for which diesel is re supplied annually. There are also two backup generators which are periodically rotated to allow for regular service.

Food, clothing, medical facilities as well as recreational facilities are provided.

Click here for a full inside view of the Gough House....

(Most of the photos are courtesy of the Gough 54 team)