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.”
Over a seven-week period in late 2019, the Trust’s Programme Manager Lizzie Meek, journeyed via South America to the Antarctic Peninsula, to work alongside British conservator Sophie Rowe, surveying the artefact collection inside Bransfield House and the Boatshed, the two remaining 1948 Base A buildings at Port Lockroy.
‘What on earth are you doing here?’ asked a surprised friend of mine who arrived at Port Lockroy as a tourship safety guide, and bumped into me in the hallway of Bransfield House.
It seems like the more time you spend observing wildlife, the more there is to observe and the more interesting you find them.
Working for hours at a time in sub-zero temperatures when you are cataloguing means you move very little.
My experience of the Antarctic Expedition ships we travelled on, is that they go to great lengths to keep their guests happy and healthy. The hospitality on board from the crew is often exceptional, and I was struck by the enjoyment and creativity they brought to their work.
Sometimes getting to Antarctica is as simple as getting on a plane in New Zealand and stepping off 5 hours later into sub zero temperatures. This year’s work expedition to Port Lockroy, (the British base on the Antarctic Peninsula managed by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust) was a whole other story.
The Last 36 was filmed by James Blake, and follows the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition to South Georgia to mark the centenary of the first crossing of the island.
The expedition retraced Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and Tom Crean’s heroic journey to get help for the crew of the ill-fated ship, ‘Endurance’. This remains one of the most remarkable survival stories in history.
James Blake was one of three young people chosen for the crossing, alongside Sinéad Hunt from Ireland and Tom MacTavish from New Zealand. The three were selected to honour the nationalities of the original explorers; Shackleton from England, Crean from Ireland and Worsley from Akaroa, New Zealand.
Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) Executive Director Nigel Watson completed the journey with the three young explorers and two professional guides from One Ocean Expeditions in late 2015.
“It was an eye-opening journey. Even with all of our modern equipment we were up against the elements. It certainly gave us a tiny insight into that last chapter in Shackleton’s remarkable journey.”
Nigel Watson says Inspiring Explorers’ Expeditions are part of the Trust’s efforts to engage young people with the spirit of exploration, something he believes is still critical in the 21st century. He hopes the release of The Last 36 will support this.
“Sharing this short film, which is beautifully shot and wonderfully edited, is a great way to inspire people with one of the world’s greatest polar exploration stories. Each of our Inspiring Explorers is asked to go out and share their story in the hope they will encourage people to step out and explore the world around them.”