Inspiring Explorers™ 2019 Antarctic Peninsula Exhibition

Photographs by Alexander Hillary and Marco de Kretser
Soundscape by Marco de Kretser

In March 2019, Alexander Hillary and Marco de Kretser travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula as members of Antarctic Heritage Trust’s fourth Inspiring Explorers Expedition™

This expedition offered the young explorers a chance to push themselves, to connect with experts, and learn about Antarctica’s history, science, wildlife, and environment, as well as the legacy of exploration in Antarctica.

This selection of Alexander and Marco’s images, accompanied by excerpts from their diary entries recorded during the expedition, give us a glimpse into the impact experiencing Antarctica had on these two young men.

The expedition was supported by One Ocean Expeditions.

Alexander chose to use Canon NZ equipment on the expedition.

The Frozen Wild

Inspiring Explorer™ and electronic music producer Marco de Kretser recorded the sounds of Antarctica’s frozen wild—the ice cracking, the birds shrieking—in order to bring those sounds back to the studio and create music inspired by the brutal, desolate, gargantuan landscapes. Marco wanted to create an interplay between the smaller details and larger saws and strings to mimic the nature of the Antarctic environment.

Here is that music:

Marco de Kretser (19)
Marco is a student at the University of Auckland, where he is studying towards a conjoint Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) and Bachelor of Global Studies (Global Environment and Sustainable Development). This focusses his education on a deep-rooted fascination with the environment and its future change. Marco is passionate about photography and filmmaking, as well as being a self-taught electronic music producer. Marco’s audio recordings, taken during the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2019, were used in his composition of The Frozen Wild.

(Read an interview with Marco here.)

Alexander Hillary (23)
Raised in Auckland, Alexander completed his Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours) at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. As the grandson of iconic Kiwi explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, Alexander has a deep connection to the history of Antarctic exploration. An experienced photographer and videographer, one of Alexander’s goal during the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2019 was to capture the the uniqueness of the Antarctic Peninsula through his lens.

(Read an interview with Alex here.)

A Place Beyond Imagination

I stopped paddling in Paradise Bay today to listen to the crash of the glacier ahead. I dropped back behind the group and was quickly left in silence as the patter of paddles moved on. The sound of the ice was incredible, it squeals and pops in the sea as it melts. These were remnants of the ancient ice that was breaking off the glacier ahead; ice dating back nearly 60,000 years. I can barely even fathom that time. I was in awe looking at the cascading frozen glacier above.
–Alexander Hillary


To be so calm and quiet is such a unique experience. When we were kayaking at Almirante Brown Station around Paradise Bay through calm flat waters surrounded by glaciers and icebergs, it was so quiet. I felt so alone in the environment. It was just the group of us kayaking quietly. This trip has definitely changed the focus of my life as now I want to explore the earth. Being in Antarctica has instilled a desire in my heart to spend my life in nature.
–Marco de Kretser

We Are Guests in Antarctica

Today was the most astounding day. I am still buzzing with the thrill and privilege of seeing some of the most astounding natural encounters our planet has to offer.

The things that truly left me speechless were the whales and the incredible intimacy we had in this remote place. The whales started appearing all around the bay. A mother and her three four-tonne calves were right next to us. Our small group was utterly ecstatic and humbled by the power of the encounter.

–Alexander Hillary

A Family Legacy

We were walking around the deserted old whaling station on Deception Island when we spotted a half-buried Massey Ferguson tractor. It wasn’t one of Ed’s but it was the same type he used on his expedition to the South Pole. I feel like our team is having its own adventure here, in a place that Ed really cherished. He loved the idea of young people getting out and exploring. He was always encouraging that spirit of adventure in his grandkids, even on a small scale like climbing trees at the beach house, or around the garden. He would have been thrilled to see this awesome team of young Kiwis out exploring this incredible landscape.

–Alexander Hillary

(Photo by Nigel Watson)

A Raw, Real Place

I’m quickly beginning to realise that the most impressive thing about Antarctica is the scale. It is like nothing anywhere else on earth. We drift past icebergs on our Zodiac. The mounds of ice soar above us. The textures accentuate their ancient history, from their formation in mountains thousands of metres above us, to when they fractured off towering glaciers into the bay where they now stand.

–Marco de Kretser

At the Mercy of Ice and Wind

It’s exhilarating to think of the early Antarctic explorers during moments of adventure and challenge on this trip. We are forming our own adventure and testing ourselves in a new and foreign place, but explorers of the heroic era like Amundsen, Borchgrevink, Scott and Shackleton were forging tracks into the unknown, so unfamiliar and far from home that it could have been another world. For me, our Antarctic adventure was a test of my adventurous spirit and a way to grasp at the physical and emotional accomplishments of those great adventurers.

–Alexander Hillary

Wow, This is Really Happening

The best wildlife by far for me was the leopard seals. At Cuverville Island, a leopard seal played around our Zodiac for ages, even popping its head up and sticking its face in front of my camera. It was looking me in the eye and giving me some freaky smiles. And then it followed us, leaping in and out of the wake of the boat. Even our boat driver was saying she had never seen anything like that before in her life.

–Marco de Kretser

The Antarctic Soundscape, by Marco de Kretser, accompanies the physical exhibition at Christchurch Airport, New Zealand. You can download this soundscape here.