Saving Antarctic treasures

Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton used Christchurch as a gateway for their Antarctic expeditions.

One hundred years on, the city still has strong Antarctic links, housing the US, Korean and New Zealand Antarctic programmes supporting science in Antarctica.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust is also based here, responsible for one of the world's most extreme conservation projects. Summer and winter, for more than a decade, the Antarctic Heritage Trust has been conserving the original explorer bases in Antarctica. Since 2006, 62 specialists from 12 countries have undertaken meticulous heritage conservation, unprecedented in its scale and complexity in the Polar Regions, to conserve Scott's and Shackleton's Antarctic legacy.

Artefact conservators have worked from purpose-built laboratories to conserve 18,248 individual artefacts, including food supplies, clothing, equipment and personal items left behind in the historic huts. Heritage carpenters have repaired and weatherproofed Scott's huts at Cape Evans and Hut Point and Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds.

During that work, previously undiscovered artefacts were found, including, most famously, crates of Scotch whisky and brandy at Shackleton's historic base, unseen photographs and a notebook from Scott's historic hut at Cape Evans.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust is about to begin conservation work on the first building on the continent at Cape Adare and, later, the original building built for the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955-58 at New Zealand's Scott Base.

Thanks to sponsors including Christchurch Airport, the Antarctic Heritage Trust is able to continue its valuable work. Check out the conservation work on the three huts at Antarctic Heritage Trusts youtube channel