Explorer Journeys: Laurette Siemonek

Inspiring Explorers Expedition™: Antarctic Peninsula 2020

Laurette Siemonek says visiting the Antarctic as an Inspiring Explorer reinforced the key role the continent plays in our global climate system.

Climate change and its impacts are front of mind for Laurette Siemonek in her day job as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry for the Environment. But she never imagined she would get the opportunity to visit the most remote and extraordinary place on Earth and witness its profound effect on the planet’s climate and ocean systems first-hand.

Although she was already a keen outdoorsperson, Laurette says the Inspiring Explorers™ Expedition pushed her outside her comfort zone, and many of her experiences were well beyond her expectations. “I loved every second. So many experiences stood out – the speed and thunder-like crashing of icebergs calving; being dwarfed by massive floating icebergs; diving into the coldest waters on the planet during the ‘polar plunge’; being surprised by the incredibly mountainous landscape; and the abundance and inquisitive nature of the wildlife, from seabirds and penguins, to seals, and whales, which breached the surface and fed around us.”

The busy young professional was in awe of the surroundings and says the peace that came from living in the moment, without technological distractions was another highlight. “My work phone tends to be an extension of my hand, so with no cell phone reception, I made a conscious decision to grasp every opportunity and enjoy every moment. I was able to reconnect with my passion for getting out into nature and exploring.”

Since her return from the expedition, Laurette has shared stories of her personal experiences along with the challenges facing the Antarctic, with many different people, across different platforms, some with a global reach. These have included workshops and presentations to various government departments, presenting at the Trust’s annual seminar to Antarctic Studies students at Victoria University, participating in the Days of Ice Antarctic festival, and taking part in an interview with New York-based education provider, Reach the World.

Laurette says visiting the coldest, windiest, and driest, single largest ice mass in the world is an experience she will always remember. “It was an absolute privilege to be selected as an Inspiring Explorer. This extraordinary expedition is an unforgettable experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

“Because it is so unspoiled, the Antarctic acts as a laboratory for the rest of the world where changes can be measured in isolation from the effects of humans. The expedition highlighted that the successful preservation of the Antarctic is in all of our best interests.”