Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin has spoken out for the first time since being hospitalised in New Zealand after being evacuated from Antarctica this month.

The 86-year-old had to be rushed to a hospital in Christchurch after a health scare during his big trip to the South Pole.

Speaking for the first time on the US-based Today Show, he explained what led to the dramatic evacuation.

"I got out of breath - you know, nothing new except it's a little more concentrated. It's cold, you've got a lot of heavy stuff and not enough air to breathe out there,'' he said.

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Aldrin said he felt motivated to "press on'' to the South Pole.

"When turning back is about as difficult as pressing on, you press on because you've got an objective - especially when they told me that I'd just set a record: The oldest guy to the South Pole.

"See now it was worth it - really,'' he laughed.

Last week, Aldrin's manager, Christina Korp, posted photos of the famous astronaut in hospital and later on a plane home.

She wrote on Twitter that they hoped to be back in New Zealand at some point, for a different reason, however.

"Bye, bye New Zealand! Hope to see you again! But next time for vacation not evacuation.''

Yesterday, Aldrin shared a photo of himself on his official Twitter page at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre.

"I'm feeling better and my rocket is ready for launch.''

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He finished his Tweet with the #GYATM hashtag, which stands for "Get your ass to Mars.''

Aldrin, who hopes humans will get to to Mars by 2035, is also pictured sporting a T-shirt with a picture of an astronaut holding an American flag standing on a red planet.

The logo reads: "From America to Mars.''