There's been school visits, mayoral receptions, a bit of wild weather and even a spot of mechanical trouble, but three tractors tasked with a momentous journey from Auckland to Aoraki to raise money for Sir Edmund Hillary's Hut are almost a third of the way there.

The two vintage tractors similar to the Ferguson TE-20 models used by Sir Ed to reach the South Pole in the late 1950s, and a modern Massey Ferguson MF5600, have been turning heads and drawing crowds as a team of four drivers make their way slowly from Piha Beach to Aoraki Mount Cook.

Dubbed "Expedition South", the month-long road trip was launched by the Antarctic Heritage Trust to help raise $1 million to repair and maintain Hillary's Hut, the first building at Scott Base and the launching pad for the famous Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1957-58.

Executive director Nigel Watson said Expedition South was now in its 10th day and had arrived in Whanganui today at 4pm.


So far the expedition had covered 600km, almost a third of the 2012km - the same distance Hillary and his team travelled in the coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica - and raised nearly $4000.

A Givealittle page set up for the cause had raised $7500 while the tally, including money from donations, was at $585,000.

This afternoon's drive from Raetihi in the central north Island to Whanganui was about 102km for the team which included expedition leader Al Fastier and co-ordinator Lydia McLean.

The tractors had been moving at a steady but slow pace of 20km/h and while there had been a few unplanned stops for "minor" mechanical faults, Watson said it was nothing team mechanic Brian Blyth couldn't handle.

The stops so far took in Sir Ed's hometown Tuakau, Hamilton, Otorohanga, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, National Park and Raetihi.

Watson said the expedition called on Kiwis to "Give a fiver to the driver", because Sir Ed's face graced the New Zealand $5 note.

"We've been overwhelmed with the support on the road. People are stopping them to donate to the cause.

"We've been really delighted with the support on the ground."


Watson said if members of the public can't make it to a planned stop then they can still donate at the Givealittle page at

For more information about the trip including the route, a blog and the current fundraising tally visit