A million-dollar project to save Sir Edmund Hillary's hut in Antarctica is now largely complete.

Thousands of New Zealanders chipped in to help save the hut, mostly during a 2012-kilometre tractor journey, Expedition South.

For the past three months, the Antarctic Heritage Trust has had a team of 12 carpenters and conservation specialists on the ice saving the hut and conserving the hundreds of artefacts within it.

Trust executive director Nigel Watson said the major restoration was now finished.

Advertisement
Thousands of Kiwis chipped in to help save Hillary's hut at Scott Base, mostly during a 2012km tractor journey, Expedition South. Above, Hillary's Hut repainted to its original colours. Photo / Jane Ussher
Thousands of Kiwis chipped in to help save Hillary's hut at Scott Base, mostly during a 2012km tractor journey, Expedition South. Above, Hillary's Hut repainted to its original colours. Photo / Jane Ussher

"The hut has been extensively renovated and is now asbestos-free. It has also been repainted to its original colours - bright orange and yellow.

"It certainly stands out among Scott Base's green buildings."

The trust's team painstakingly conserved more than 500 artefacts, including two Marcus King paintings conserved under the guidance of Sir Ed's daughter, Sarah Hillary, at Auckland Art Gallery.

Trust programme manager Lizzie Meek described the logistical challenges involved in the project as "enormous".

"The extreme weather conditions and cold temperatures can freeze or change the materials you're working with and, of course, you can't exactly pop down to your local hardware shop to buy additional materials."

Lead conservator Sue Bassett (left), lead carpenter Martin Wenzel, conservator Ciarán Lavelle, heritage carpenter Geoff Cooper and AHT Programme Manager Artefacts Lizzie Meek. Photo / Jane Ussher
Lead conservator Sue Bassett (left), lead carpenter Martin Wenzel, conservator Ciarán Lavelle, heritage carpenter Geoff Cooper and AHT Programme Manager Artefacts Lizzie Meek. Photo / Jane Ussher

The repainting of the exterior to its original colours involved Dulux New Zealand taking the original 1957 colour from the archive and recreating it using specialist tinters.

Watson said the hut could not have been saved without the help of Kiwis, and Antarctica New Zealand.

The Government also chipped in $180,000, he said.

"Hillary's Hut is the birthplace of Kiwi leadership in Antarctica, it's where Sir Ed began his famous tractor trip to the South Pole and is Scott Base's first building .. so thank you New Zealand - you have saved a Kiwi icon."

Scott Base staff gather outside the newly restored Hillary’s Hut. Photo / Anthony Powell
Scott Base staff gather outside the newly restored Hillary’s Hut. Photo / Anthony Powell