Restoration for historic Antarctic hut

The oldest hut on Ross Island is being fully conserved for the first time in over a century.


Link to TV3 News report.

TV3 reporter Hamish Clark, who is being hosted on the ice as part of Antarctica New Zealand's media programme, connected in live to TV3's 6pm News from outside Scott Base.

Built by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Discovery Hut is the closest hut to the South Pole.  Walking around the hut is like stepping back into a time machine; 100-year-old crates of biscuits are stacked high, the blubber stove is tarred and cold, and New Zealand mutton still hangs on the walls.

Scott built the hut in 1901, and it was his last staging post before he departed in the race to the South Pole.  It was also used by subsequent heroic-era expeditions including Ernest Shackleton and the Ross Sea party.

Now, the double-glazed hut and all its contents are in desperate need of repair. Ice under the floor is pushing the hut off its piles and deforming the building.  Around 350 artefacts, including tins of digestive biscuits, have been wrapped and removed to be conserved at Antarctica New Zealand's Scott Base over the winter.

"The biscuits wont need to come out, they are in good condition," says Lizzie Meek of the Antarctica Heritage Trust.

The trust has spent the last 10 years restoring the huts, protecting them from snow and ice melt.  "They were in a perilous state before we started working on them, but now that we have been able to make them structurally sound and weather-tight we are confident they will last for a number of decades," says Ms Meek.  It's all part of safe-guarding the history of the heroic explorers for future generations.

Watch the full report.