Venture Southland supports satellite Earth observation services at the Awarua and Lochiel Satellite Ground Stations, providing turn-key services to establish and maintain ground stations for international partners.

Venture Southland's involvement and management of the ground stations generates many economic benefits for Southland by increasing investment from outside the region. Satellite tracking is a high value industry that requires specialist skills from professional engineers, skilled technicians, riggers and IT specialists. These roles have increasingly been able to be filled by local businesses which has encouraged them to develop and grow.

The Awarua Ground Station is 11 kilometres from the city of Invercargill and is the ideal location for 'launch and early orbit phase' (LEOP), and telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) ground stations. The first ground station was built in 2008 with the French Space Agency for the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 ATV campaigns. It is now also the home for ESOC, Planet, SpaceFlight and others’ equipment.

Mostly Awarua Satellite Ground Station is communicating with Earth observation satellites. These satellites orbit the earth about 12 times each day at altitudes of between 400 and 800 kilometres, scanning the earth at radio and optical frequencies. They are typically used to monitor the environment, land use, oil pollution, ship movement and assist with disaster recovery.

The only two locations in the world that can consistently download the data from polar orbit satellites are the North and South Poles. There are many ground stations near the North Pole, but few in the Southern Hemisphere. Awarua offers excellent look-angles to spacecraft over the Tasman Sea and the Southern Ocean, including all of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Awarua SGS website

Timeline of Awarua Radio Science Developments


Awarua VLB (later ZLB) Coast Radio station opens.


Awarua Coast Radio station closes.


The La Trobe University ‘Unwin’ TIGER radar at Awarua, which measures the ionosphere towards the South Magnetic Pole between 8 MHz – 20 MHz in conjunction with its complementary station at Bruny Island, Tasmania is opened. Unwin is part of the global SuperDARN network and is on the old Awarua Coast Radio site.


Venture Southland helps negotiate the Arrangement between the Government of New Zealand and the European Space Agency on the setting up and use of telemetry and tracking facilities for the purpose of the Agency’s launcher programmes and activities. This provides benefits to the Southland region.


Venture Southland and Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES—the French Space Agency) sign a 10 year services agreement.


Built by Venture Southland for the European Space Agency (ESA), Awarua Tracking Station is opened by Mr Chris de Cooke, Head of International Relations, ESA and Mr David Parker, Minister for Geospatial Information. ESA hands the station over to Venture Southland.


Awarua Station provides downrange services for ESA’s Ariane 5 ATV-1 ‘Jules Verne’ resupply mission to the International Space Station. Launched from Kourou, French Guyana, the spacecraft separate to the south-east of Bluff.


Downrange services for ESA’s Ariane 5 ATV-2 ‘Johannes Kepler’ resupply mission.


Downrange services for ESA’s Ariane 5 ATV-3 ‘Edoardo Amaldi’ resupply mission.


Downrange services for ESA’s Ariane 5 ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ resupply mission.


Planet's first S/X-Band and UHF antennas commissioned


Downrange services for ESA’s Ariane 5 ATV-5 ‘Georges Lemaître’ resupply mission.


European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) global navigation satellite system monitoring station at Awarua Station is commissioned.


Awarua Tracking Station is renamed Awarua Satellite Ground Station.


Planet's second S/X-Band antenna and UHF stations are commissioned at Awarua SGS.


First SpaceFlight S/X-Band and UHF antennas commissioned at Awarua SGS.


Awarua Communications Museum opens at the old Awarua Coast Radio site.


Spire-Global satellite ground station is established at Lochiel.


Fibre-optic cable connects Awarua SGS to the rest of the world.


Voluntary member of Protective Security Requirements Capability Model.


First Earth AdVantage ground station facilities established.



For further information contact
Robin McNeill - Venture Southland

Robin McNeill

Engineering Projects & Ground Segment Station Manager