In honour of Suffrage 125, this week's anniversary of women winning the right to vote, Grace Ellis profiles three Kiwi travel heroes your kids should know about.
1 Laura Dekker
On January 21, 2012, Laura Dekker became the first person to sail the world completely solo. Dekker was born at sea off the coast of New Zealand and retained dual Dutch and New Zealand citizenship. At just 16 years old, she was determined to single-handedly circumnavigate the world. She faced initial setbacks from Dutch authorities, who prevented her from leaving the country while under shared custody of her parents. After a family court judgment, the sailor from Whangarei set sail in August 2010 and achieved her goal in one year and one day aboard her 38ft sailboat named Guppy. After travelling more than 27,000 nautical miles, Dekker sailed into the southern Dutch territory of St Martin in the Caribbean, flying a New Zealand flag on the stern of her sailboat. Dekker now lives with her husband aboard Guppy in the Whangārei Harbour.
2 Helen Thayer
World-recognised explorer Helen Thayer is a woman of firsts. Awarded by National Geographic as one of the "Great Explorers of the Twentieth Century", Thayer climbed her first mountain, Mt Taranaki, at just 8 years old. She grew up on a farm near Howick and internationally represented New Zealand, the United States and Guatemala in track and field. In 1961 she moved overseas to be with her husband Bill, an American helicopter pilot. From there she became the pioneer of multiple triumphs. In 1996 to 1997, Thayer walked more than 6400km to become the first woman to cross the Sahara Desert from Morocco to the Nile River. In 2001, she was the first to trek 2500km across the entire Gobi desert. Thayer; accompanied by her dog Charlie, was the first to complete a solo trek of the Magnetic North Pole at age 50 (1988) and also, with husband Bill, became the first couple to travel to the Magnetic North Pole completely unsupported (1996-1997). Aged 81, Helen continues to adventure to this day and works to inspire others to explore the world through her non-profit organisation, Adventure Classroom.
3 Jean Batten
After earning her private pilot's license in 1930 and receiving her commercial pilot's license by 1932, Rotorua-born Jean Gardner Batten quickly began to secure multiple aviation records. In 1934, she broke a women's aviation record when she made the first solo flight from England to Australia. Within the same year, Batten broke another record, becoming the first woman to fly across the South Atlantic. Undoubtedly her most monumental victory was in 1936 when she succeeded in becoming the first person to fly solo from England to New Zealand. By the end of her journey, Batten had become an international celebrity, with a crowd of 6000 Kiwis waiting at Auckland's Mangere Aerodrome to welcome her home.