Our 2019 Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula saw our largest group ever joined by New Zealand Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson.
A film documenting a gruelling New Zealand Arctic expedition.
Watch ‘In Nansen’s Footsteps’ here.
‘In Nansen’s Footsteps’ follows young Antipodeans as they ski 560 kilometres to cross the Greenland icecap towing 60 kilogram sleds.
In Nansen’s Footsteps premiered at the prestigious New York The Explorers Club Polar Film Festival on the evening of 24 January 2019.
The Explorers Club is a 114-year-old global network of explorers. Its famed membership has included Sir Edmund Hillary, Tensing Norgay, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Roald Amundsen.
In Nansen’s Footsteps was made as part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s third Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition. The film was shot and directed by Australia’s Keith Parsons. He was one of four young people selected for the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s 2018 Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition, along with well-known Kiwis Brando Yelavich and Hollie Woodhouse and fellow Australian Bridget Kruger. Belmont Productions in Christchurch produced the film.
Keith says having the film premiere at such the prestigious Explorers’ Club is an honour and reward for the enormous challenges he faced in making it.
“This was a difficult project. The adventure was unfolding in real time, there were no second takes, no setups … it was all action. I constantly battled to keep the batteries warm and charged and the gear frost-free. It was an unforgettable experience though and I think the film has an authenticity borne out of those limitations.”
Led by Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson and guided by Ousland Explorers master guide Bengt Rotmo, the expedition was in part supported by Australasian outdoors company Kathmandu. The expedition honoured Fridtjof Nansen. A Norwegian polar explorer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nansen completed the first crossing of Greenland in 1888.
Nigel Watson says the film captures the highs and lows of the 28-day journey.
“There were times of utter elation with breath-taking sights, but also some very challenging periods including storms and significant snowfall.”
As well as numerous storms, the team pushed on through illness and fatigue … even developing a taste for the pounds of butter they had to eat to maintain their energy levels.
“We had to dig deep (literally at times!) to get through this journey, but it helped deliver on the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s goal of Inspiring Explorers.”
The film includes some incredible drone footage which captures the beauty of an area few viewers are likely to travel to.
“We hope people around the world will see this film, be inspired by Nansen’s story and take the opportunity to get out and explore this amazing world we live in.”
In January 2010 our conservators found five crates encased in ice under Shackleton’s 1908 Antarctic base – three contained Mackinlay’s whisky and two contained brandy.
The three whisky crates were excavated and one crate was flown to New Zealand to be carefully thawed by the Trust in a purpose-built environment and public gallery at Canterbury Museum. Eleven bottles of the 114-year old whisky were revealed, still sheathed in their paper and straw packaging.
After delicate conservation, the then owner of Whyte & Mackay (which owns the Mackinlay brand), flew to New Zealand to see the extraordinary find. Under permit from the New Zealand Government, he transported three bottles to Scotland on his private jet for scientific analysis by Whyte & Mackay and The Scotch Whisky Research Institute.
In a unique opportunity for the whisky world, the bottles were subjected to sensory and chemical analysis to establish the flavour and composition of a product manufactured a century earlier. In April 2011, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender, Richard Paterson, successfully recreated an exact replica of the century-old whisky and Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky was born.
The whisky proved so popular that in late 2012, a second edition, ‘The Journey’, was released. Both editions have resulted in a substantial donation to the Trust’s conservation work in Antarctica.
The National Geographic Channel’s Expedition Whisky documentary and author Neville Peat’s excellent book, Shackleton’s Whisky, have both recorded the whisky’s journey from obscurity to world-wide attention. Meanwhile, whisky lovers the world over are enjoying the replica whisky. They are in good company. The whisky has been gifted to, and by, heads of state and royalty.
In January 2013, the Shackleton whisky story came full circle with New Zealand Prime Minister the Rt Hon. John Key repatriating the three bottles of original whisky to the Trust’s staff in Antarctica. The final stage in a remarkable journey for the world’s best aged and travelled whisky was the return of the original crates to Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 base at Cape Royds.
Although my time working around Scott Base has been incredible, the portion of my trip which I was really looking forward to was the 11-day trip camping out in the field. This was divided between Cape Royds – the location of Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut, and Cape Evans – the location of Scott’s Terra Nova Hut.
I had heard many great things about Cape Royds: the hut, the Adélie penguin colony and the possibility of seeing the open sea. I was certainly not disappointed.
Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds is set in a stunning location. The hut is a lovely design, with gable ends and open-plan inside. At one end is a beautiful ‘Mrs Sam’ cooking stove which would have created a lovely warm ambience over the long Antarctic winter.
The first day we arrived the sea was open, clear of ice. The water was a very dark royal blue, different to what I’m used to seeing in New Zealand. The next day however, the wind changed and blew the loose pack sea ice back south therefore choking the area of McMurdo Sound around Cape Royds, and removing all signs of open water as far as we could see.
The hut is situated near an Adélie penguin rookery. The proximity of the rookery to the hut gives the whole area a real sense of life – watching the penguins go about their lives is a constant source of amusement.
During our three days at Cape Royds, Martin, Nicola, Lizzie and I completed a range of maintenance and monitoring tasks including: snow shovelling, timber moisture measurements, hut structure and artefact collection monitoring, and collection of hut environmental data.