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Cape Hallett Station was a joint United States and New Zealand base built for the International Geophysical Year (IGY). On 29 December 1956 the US ships Northwind and Arneb landed at Cape Hallett to establish the base. Over 8000 Adélie penguins were removed from the site and a net erected to prevent their return. The base was completed in February 1957 and along with living spaces included a balloon-inflating building, geomagnetic huts and an aurora observation tower.

1 November 1957 saw the first aircraft landing at Hallett by DC3 and the first sanctioned science investigation, the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition began. Joint United States/New Zealand support for the base continued after IGY due to the scientific significance of the area.  The station was supplied principally by sea until October 1961 when a ski-equipped LC130 landed on the ice.

On Christmas Day 1962 Hallett had its first fire, which destroyed a Jamesway hut housing scientific specimens and a woodworking shop. After this a permanent fire watch was instituted. A second fire on 6 March 1964 destroyed the science building and aurora tower. The three New Zealanders who slept there escaped, however the fire raised questions about the future of the base. The station converted to summer-only operations under United States management after the 1964 winter. The base continued to support New Zealand events including the1967/68 Mt Herschel expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary.

The need for Hallett Station declined as baseline data was acquired and long-range aircraft became available. In 1973, after six summer seasons the base was abandoned, although buildings, equipment and stores remained for future use. The base was never reoccupied except as an emergency shelter.

Human impacts on the local environment were significant at Hallett due to the proximity of the penguin colony. Attempts were made to minimise the impact by avoiding nesting sites and limiting vehicle traffic. Clean-up began from 1984 to 1986 when parties demolished and burnt buildings, dumped rubbish on the sea ice and returned items to Scott Base.  Several wannigans, fuel stores, a 100, 000 gallon fuel tank and debris remained. To encourage penguins to return to the base site, nesting mounds were constructed.

In 2001 a joint United States/New Zealand team carried out an environmental site assessment, which led to a multi-year remediation plan for the station site and surrounding area.