The hut was designed by Professor Gregory, who had been appointed leader of the scientific staff; however, he resigned from the position before the Discovery headed south. It was to be square in plan, its Australian origins evident in the open verandah that surrounded three sides of the structure. The structure and cladding of the building is entirely of timber, Douglas fir and Scots pine. The pyramidal-shaped roof was supported by a central post and consisted of two layers of tongue and groove boarding separated by felt; a ceiling enclosed an air space for insulation. The walls were of panelled construction, and the floor consisted of two layers of tongue-and-groove boarding fixed to joists and enclosing an air space. A heating stove was provided for the Officer’s quarters and a cooking stove in the Men’s quarters, and at least one of these was installed and later removed with the departure of the expedition. Seven double-glazed windows were located on three sides and additional light was admitted to the verandah on three sides by six skylights with shutters. Three exterior doors were provided, two of which are now sealed up.
On 21 December, the heavily-laden Discovery steamed out of Lyttelton where tens of thousands had gathered to see her off. Scott recorded in his diary:
It is most difficult to speak in fitting terms of the kindness shown to us in New Zealand … On every side we were accorded the most generous terms by the firms or individuals with whom we had to deal in business matters.
As the Discovery headed southwards the expedition stopped at Port Chalmers for coal and to bury a seaman, Charles Bonner, who had fallen from the top of the mainmast as the ship left Lyttelton. On 9 January 1902, a call was made at Cape Adare where the record left by Borchgrevink was found, and on 4 February, during flights by Scott and Sub-Lieutenant Ernest Shackleton RNR in a hydrogen balloon named Eva over the Great Barrier (now called the Ross Ice Shelf), Shackleton took the first aerial photographs of Antarctica.
Granite Harbour on the western side of McMurdo Sound was considered a possible site for wintering, but Scott opted to winter over in what they named Winter Quarters Bay, a small indentation at the end of the Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island and described by Wilson as, “the most perfect little natural harbour imaginable”.