Shackleton Centenary Year Expedition


credit: © ISTOCK.COM

Shackleton Centenary Year Expedition – Deferral to 2023

We are delighted with the response from supporters to join the Trust on our planned Shackleton Centenary Year Expedition to South Georgia Island, with all berths on the Magellan Explorer now sold out.

We want to travel internationally and take a ship-based expedition only when it is safe to do so.

We have also been keeping a very close eye on the upcoming Antarctic summer season planning and operators’ plans to operate safely in the face of COVID.

After much consideration of the ongoing risks associated with international border closures, lockdowns, mandatory quarantines, the challenge of securing travel insurance, the slow rollout of vaccines, the raging delta variant of COVID and other factors the decision has been made to defer our October 2022 expedition.

The dates for the expedition are now scheduled for 30 September – 14 October 2023 (embarkation and disembarkation in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands). Everything else remains the same for now; the ship, the itinerary, special guests and up to 22 sponsored young New Zealanders joining us as part of our Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ programme.

The ship is now fully booked, however we do have a wait-list for those interested in joining the expedition. To register your interest please contact Jessica Hughes Hutton, Inspiring Explorers™ Programme Coordinator, email

King penguins gather on the shores of South Georgia. © ISTOCK.COM

South Georgia is the most stunning island on the planet and inextricably linked to Sir Ernest Shackleton, New Zealand Endurance captain Frank Worsley’s epic seamanship, and the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.

The island’s scenery, wildlife and isolation are unrivalled.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust is planning to honour the centenary year of Shackleton’s final expedition (the Quest) which journeyed to South Georgia and marked the end of the heroic-era of Antarctic exploration. We are providing an opportunity for supporters to join us on this dedicated expedition, which forms part of our Inspiring Explorers™ programme, and experience the wonder of South Georgia as part of a never-to-be repeated voyage.

You can join us on a bespoke expedition presented by respected operator Antarctica21 and booking agent Wild Earth Travel.

The expedition is timed to visit South Georgia in early Spring, at the beginning of the wildlife migration and breeding cycle for so many of the island’s species. With estimates of 30 million breeding birds including 7 million penguins, 2 million fur seals, and 50 percent of the world’s southern elephant seals, it has the reputation for the greatest density of wildlife on earth.

The voyage will also feature the Trust’s wider Inspiring Explorers™ programme, which provides incredible opportunities for young inspiring New Zealanders to grow and experience the spirit of exploration.

This expedition is dedicated solely to visiting South Georgia. Experiences include cruising in the inflatable Zodiac boats, visits to vast king penguin rookeries, seal covered beaches, and the many important historic sites, several of which are forever connected to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A highlight will be King Haakon Bay, located on the wild southern coastline, and landing place of the James Caird — Shackleton’s famous 23-foot boat, navigated by Captain Frank Worsley, after having made the epic 800-mile voyage from Elephant Island in Antarctica in 1916 following the loss of Endurance. We will also visit the Museum and the site of Shackleton’s final resting place, the small cemetery in Grytviken following his death on the Quest expedition. On-shore excursions will range from more to less strenuous based on your preference, with the possibility of using snowshoes at some locations (limited numbers).

Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia. © ISTOCK.COM

Join our Special Guests

Like Shackleton’s Quest expedition, we have a great New Zealand connection. We are delighted that Richie McCaw and Dr Rod Carr will join the expedition as special guests.


Hillary, Blake, McCaw. The lineage of New Zealand outdoor greats.

Richie needs no introduction. New Zealand’s most famous rugby player, his stellar career saw him captain the All Blacks to two World Cup victories, play an incredible 148 tests and captain the All Blacks in 110 tests. His record is unrivalled. Richie’s leadership, mana and humility have marked his career. Turning down a knighthood, Richie is one of only 20 living New Zealanders awarded the Order of New Zealand.

A professional helicopter pilot, Richie competes in endurance sports events and is excited about the opportunity to travel with New Zealanders to the most incredible island on the planet and to get close to the legends of exploration.


The Chair of New Zealand’s Climate Change Commission, Rod is at the forefront of climate change thinking and New Zealand’s response to it. Amongst his other high‑profile roles, Rod has been Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury.

Rod, who is legally blind, has run a marathon in Antarctica and has a deep personal connection to this expedition. Rod’s namesake and family antecedent Air Marshal Sir (Charles) Roderick Carr, KBE, CB, DDFC, AFC was one of two New Zealanders on Shackleton’s final expedition to South Georgia aboard the Quest. Carr (the elder) was the aviator and a valued member of Shackleton’s final expedition. Rod is an authority on his namesake.


What makes this voyage unique is the amount of time we spend in South Georgia. Virtually all ship visits spend just three or perhaps four days at most around the island. This expedition is dedicated solely to visiting South Georgia and we plan to spend double that amount of time, providing the most comprehensive exploration of the island possible. We also eliminate numerous sea days by flying to and from the Falkland Islands.

In the true spirit of the early explorers, Antarctica21 have agreed to keep a completely flexible 15 day/14 night itinerary focused on maximising our time and landing opportunities at South Georgia.

For more detailed itinerary information, request the Shackleton Centenary Year Expedition brochure:

King penguins and elephant seals, South Georgia. © ISTOCK.COM
An albatross soars in South Georgia. © ISTOCK.COM

Introducing the Magellan Explorer

Antarctic Heritage Trust has chosen to travel to South Georgia Island with Antarctica21. The Magellan Explorer is Antarctica21’s purpose-built, ‘new generation’ expedition ship and made her maiden voyage to Antarctica in November 2019. She is designed to carry no more than 96 guests meaning we are able to maximise time onshore for every single guest, on every single excursion.

The modern, well-appointed cabins range in size from 22 to 44 square metres and feature private balconies, a wardrobe with ample storage, individually controlled heating system, a sitting area, and a private bathroom with shower.

A highlight of the ship is the observation lounge providing superb 270-degree views. This space doubles as a comfortable presentation zone, with state-of-the art audio-visual equipment to bring the educational elements of the voyage to life. A spacious and well appointed dining room serves an exceptional menu of international meals created by a team of experienced chefs. There is a well stocked bar, a library full of polar reference material, a meeting room, a gym, a Finnish ‘dry-heat’ sauna, a small gift-shop, and a medical clinic. There are also numerous outdoor observation areas on the ship providing expansive views of your surroundings.

The ship has a fleet of 10 zodiac boats that will take us from ship to shore, exploring along the shoreline or ice floes. She is the perfect vessel and was carefully selected as the ideal platform for this South Georgia expedition. Antarctica21 design and deliver adventurous yet comfortable small-scale expeditions to Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic Islands. The aim is to offer guests the perfect balance between active exploration and high quality hospitality.