Drive to save Sir Edmund Hillary's Antarctic Hut heads south

By Ophelia Buckleton

The leader of a 2012km tractor expedition, to help raise $1 million to save Sir Edmund Hillary's hut in Antarctica says "the most difficult stages are still to come" as they prepare to cross Cook Strait tomorrow.

Al Fastier leader of "Expedition South" said the team who set off from Piha Beach on three tractors on August 28, have travelled close to 1000km through atrocious weather and with more than one mechanical failure.

"And [we] are acutely aware the most difficult stages are still to come."

The tractors parked up in front of a cafe in Featherston names Everest. Photo / Supplied
The tractors parked up in front of a cafe in Featherston names Everest. Photo / Supplied

The team and their tractors will travel from Wellington to Picton on a Bluebridge Ferry tomorrow morning, to begin the South Island leg of their month-long road trip.

The final distance they aim to travel is the same as Sir Ed's team drove from Scott Base to the South Pole on their historic expedition in 1957 to 1958.

Two of the tractors, which are vintage TE20 Fergusons, are also similar to those used by Sir Ed.

"The little 60 year old Fergies are the real heroes here, but there is still a long way to go," said Fastier.

So far the Antarctic Heritage Trust has raised nearly $590,000 to save Sir Edmund Hillary's hut, along with the artefacts inside it.

The Trust's executive director Nigel Watson says they're hopeful the South Island stage of the expedition will attract even more donations.

The "Expedition South" made it to the top of Rimutaka Hill. Photo / Supplied
The "Expedition South" made it to the top of Rimutaka Hill. Photo / Supplied

"The reception on the road so far has been amazing - people tooting, waving and putting $5 notes into the collection box.

"We are hoping that even more kiwis will chip in and donate via givealittle to help us save this important slice of kiwi history."

Expedition South's final destination is Aoraki Mt Cook.

Donations can be made online via givealittle.co.nz or expeditionsouth.nz.

- NZ Herald

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