Great birthdays

On 12 April the Antarctic Society Canterbury branch, the Canterbury Museum and the Lyttelton Museum Society celebrated two important birthdays. Baden Norris, the founder of the Lyttelton Museum, gets 90 years old on Sunday, 16 April. He is a “walking encyclopedia” in Antarctic history matters. Baden and his teams saved the historic huts in the Antarctic in the 1960s and he was long time curator of the Antarctic collection at the Canterbury Museum – what he is still doing on a volunteer basis.

The other birthday-boy is Alex McFerran. At the very day as Baden he will celebrate his 95th birthday. He overwintered at Scott Base in 1970 – 1971 as electrician and dog handler. At this time his colleagues and he were digging out the Hillary tractor and repaired it and brought the vehicle to Scott Base. The tractor is now on display at the Canterbury Museum. in 1974 – 1975 he overwintered at Campbell Island and was involved in erecting and maintaining the meteorological station there.  For his achievements in the Antarctic and his long time membership in the Antarctic Society, Canterbury branch, he was awarded with the life-membership.

It is always amazing meeting these people and hear their stories about the days in the Antarctic. Both men’s experiences in the Antarctic are recorded via the NZAS Oral History project. A wonderful source for current and future historians.



Alex McFerran receives his life membership certificate



Alex McFerran and Baden Norris at their birthday event


PCAS and ANTA 101

Summer-school time : PCAS is running for the 19th time this year. I will not go down with this course because all tutors are willing to go – so there is no professional historian this time with the students. I gave my lectures last Monday in the Canterbury Museum and the content of my presentation was carried in the tour through the  Antarctic gallery by the curators Sarah Murray and Joanna Szczepanski. Next Friday 16 students and four tutors make their trip to Scott Base and then into the field.

Another course I am involved: ANTA 101. Their exam starts on 16th December and has to be finished at 18th December.

Another year has passed with lots of excitement of all sorts.

Christmas is almost here and I want to wish all a Merry Christmas.


Christmas in the Antarctic 2015 (Windless Bight) with PCAS (Postgraduate Certificate for Antarctic Studies) picture taken on Christmas Eve at 11pm

Lecture at Scott Base


Discovery Hut 2015

I delivered my lecture on Antarctic History yesterday evening – at Scott Base. Some people from Scott Base attended the lecture and of course all the PCAS students. It was good to have the tour through the Discovery Hut the day before, so I could refer to the location quite often. I compressed my lecture from a three hour to a one and a half hour one. That worked quite well and it was very helpful that we had the exercise already in the field. My lecture was recorded by Anthony Powell and I am looking forward how he will integrate parts of it in his new documentary.

Back again

It is sad, but I am back again from the Antarctic. I learned a lot and can understand some things much better now. Reading the diaries and letters from the early explorers helped me down there to see many details much clearer (landscape, light, distances, temperature, windchill, and much more); however, it helps me now to understand their writing so much better. The time in the field was very exciting and the life at Scott Base is interesting. The people there are so helpful and it is amazing how they work there with such a calmness and precision. In comparison to the old huts or the life on the ships, when trapped into the ice, it is very comfortable to stay at the station but it has its restrictions – still. The weather is unpredictable and can be merciless and the daily comforts are very vulnerable as we have seen with the water supply.

I hope that was not my only trip to the ice and the next time, if there is a next time, I hope I can see the huts (Terra Nova Hut and Shackleton Hut). As historian it is an extraordinary experience to see the huts with your own eyes. The Discovery Hut is so much smaller than it appears in photographs and it was quite cold in there.

Now I have been there, I am hungry for more…..



Dr. Gazert (Drygalksi Expedition 1902 – 1903) with his fellows in their polar clothing


Modern clothing provided by Antarctica New Zealand



Picture taken from the plane on the way back to Christchurch: From the Antarctic Mountain Range  –  glacier flow visible.