In August 2016 you can follow the Antarctic Heritage Trust on their Expedition South. They will:
- drive vintage tractors
- cover 2,012 kilometres
- begin in Tuakau, near Auckland
- finish at Aoraki Mt Cook village.
The trust is going to travel on the same model of tractor and the same distance that Sir Edmund Hillary drove on his ‘Dash to the Pole’ from Scott Base to the South Pole. This journey took place in 1958 and was part of the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition (TAE).
Sir Edmund Hillary
Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay were the first people to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Many people would have happily retired from adventure after such an achievement, but not Hillary. He went on to complete many more expeditions to the Himalaya, Antarctica, India and the Arctic. He also set up the Himalayan Trust to help build schools and hospitals in Nepal.
Dash to the Pole
Sir Edmund Hillary was a member of the Trans Antarctic Expedition which aimed to complete the first overland crossing of the Antarctic Continent. Hillary led the New Zealand section of this expedition. On 4 January 1958, Hillary’s team were the first to reach the Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912, and the first ever to do so using motor vehicles.
Massey Ferguson Tractors
Hillary's TAE team used three Ferguson TE-20 tractors. The tractors were fitted with an extra wheel on each side and full caterpillar tracks which could be removed in light conditions. A canvas cabin was added for wind-proofing.
2016 New Zealand Expedition
The Antarctic Heritage Trust will celebrate Hillary’s first tractor journey to the South Pole by travelling the same distance from Tuakau, where Ed Hillary went to school, to Aoraki Mount Cook. This expedition aims to inspire a new generation of adventurers and raise money to restore Hillary’s original hut at Scott Base.
The TAE hut is often called Hillary’s hut and was part of the original Scott Base. Scott Base was established with the support of the New Zealand Government to plan and oversee New Zealand’s involvement in the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition (TAE) and the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The base was built during the summer of 1956–57. The TAE hut was one of six buildings and housed:
- a mess room
- a galley
- a radio room
- Hillary’s office.
A party of 23 people, under the leadership of Sir Edmund Hillary and including five scientists wintered over in the TAE Hut in 1957, to complete preparations for the expediton.
The TAE hut is an important part of history and marks the beginning of New Zealand’s scientific work in Antarctica.