Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ Mahu Whenua Traverse

Grand Opening of the Turk Trail

credit: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Applications closed on
19 May 2021

This expedition, taking place in the first week of August 2021, will mark the grand opening of a new and unique alpine trail in the Queenstown Lakes District of New Zealand, the Mahu Whenua Traverse, in partnership with the Mountain Turk Club.

The Inspiring Explorers team will ski cross-country over 50 kilometres between Treble Cone and Coronet Peak in the Central Otago region of New Zealand.

Seven young New Zealanders will travel a world-class alpine route along the backbone of the Harris Mountains, spending four nights in new purpose built ‘Turk’ huts along the way.

This expedition is a fantastic celebration of the region’s pristine backcountry, Kiwi inventiveness, and the spirit of exploration.

Five Inspiring Explorers chosen by the Antarctic Heritage Trust (aged 18-30) will be joined by two students from a local high school in the region to make up the expedition team.

Expedition team members need to be available from July 31 – August 7, be confident cross country or backcountry skiers, have their own gear and meet the Trust’s Eligibility Criteria.

Applications for this expedition are now closed. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in early June (either in person or via Zoom) and a final expedition team confirmed in late June.

About Mahu Whenua Traverse

The Mahu Whenua Traverse travels through the iconic Harris Mountains linking ridge tops, valleys and bowls to create an amazing winter ski and summer hiking route between Treble Cone and Coronet Peak ski fields. It has 3781m of elevation gain, and 4029m of elevation loss throughout the journey.

It’s the first ski traverse of its type in New Zealand and will be an amazing community asset.

The traverse is also the first to use inventive ‘Turk’ alpine huts for accommodation.

A Turk (tank hut) is a lightweight, helicopter flyable mountain hut based on a large plastic water tank. Creative interior design combined with the circular shape results in a highly efficient and relaxing space that is safe in even the most extreme of storms. The name derives from the saying “Not a hut and not a yurt, not a tank so must be a Turk”.

Highlights of this expedition include:

  • An opportunity to be part of the official opening of the Mahu Whenua Traverse;
  • The chance to get out of your comfort zone and experience a world-class alpine traverse;
  • An opportunity to learn and develop new skills with expert guides and the Antarctic Heritage Trust team;
  • An opportunity to experience staying in unique high mountain huts (Turks);
  • Learning about the connection of Turks with Antarctica and the legacy the Trust cares for in Antarctica and joining the Trust’s well-connected and diverse alumni programme.

Read more on the Mahu Whenua Traverse website here.

Applications closed on  19 May 2021

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in early June (either in person or via Zoom) and a final expedition team confirmed in late June.

Expedition Costs

Antarctic Heritage Trust will meet the costs for the guides, domestic flights to and from Queenstown, accommodation and meals.

Selected Inspiring Explorers will:

  • Contribute NZD500 towards the expedition costs, with payment to be made immediately upon acceptance;
  • Agree not to have any personal sponsors/gear sponsors for participation in the expedition;
  • Be prepared to wear/use sponsor gear supplied by the expedition team, if asked;
  • Supply all appropriate personal outdoor equipment and clothing for the trip. A list of required gear will be provided by Antarctic Heritage Trust, in due course;
  • Cover costs (if any) for your excess baggage;
  • Undertake a medical, if required.

Outreach Programme

Expedition team members will be asked to participate in an outreach programme, sharing their experience with their local community, sharing photo and video content (as applicable), being part of a short film about the Mahu Whenua Traverse, participating in any agreed media coverage, social media or blogs. The Trust’s communication team will work closely with the expedition team on the outreach programme component.

History of the Turks

Turk huts are made from large plastic water tanks and they are ideally suited to remote locations with extreme weather conditions.

Mountain Turk Club founder Erik Bradshaw had the vision to utilise Turks as affordable backcountry huts for a five-day journey though otherwise hard to explore terrain. Turks are 26,000 litre plastic water tanks that Erik has retro-fitted with bunks and benches to create snug shelter for the ski tourer and backcountry traveller.

Five Turks are strategically positioned along the Mahu Whenua Traverse.

Early Turk hut design was pioneered by Al Fastier, the Trust’s Programme Manager Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project, in collaboration with Erik Bradshaw and Trust Structural Engineer Win Clark. The Trust uses two Turk huts in Antarctica,  at the field camp established to support the restoration of Borchgrevink’s Huts at Cape Adare. These Turks are the first to be utilised in New Zealand.

Turk huts being installed at Cape Adare, Antarctica

Eligibility Criteria

Read our full Eligibility Criteria & Expedition Member Obligations here.

If you have any questions please contact:

Jessica Hughes Hutton
Inspiring Explorers™ Programme Coordinator
021 268 4144
Applications close 19 May 2021.

Mahu Whenua Traverse Gallery