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Tractor journey for Hillary Hut fundraiser

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/08/2016

An Antarctic trust will drive three tractors more than 2000 kilometres through New Zealand to raise funds for the renovation of Sir Edmund Hillary's hut in Antarctica.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust will undertake the 2012-kilometre journey from Piha Beach, near Auckland, to Aorak/Mount Cook on Tuesday.

They hope to raise $1 million for the Scott Base hut's refurbishment and maintaining the historic bunker for 25 years.

Hillary's hut, or the Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut, was the first building constructed at NZ's Scott Base in 1957.

It was used as a springboard for Sir Edmund and his companions to complete the first ever trip overland to the South Pole by motor vehicle.

Director Nigel Watson says the hut and its artefacts are salvageable but only with a considerable boost in funding.

He encouraged Kiwis to give $5 to the project, given Sir Ed's place on New Zealand's $5 note.

"While our team won't be on the ice and will have far more comforts than Sir Ed and his team had, it's still going to take them nearly four weeks," Mr Watson said.

"They're likely to face all kinds of weather."

Peter Hillary, Sir Edmund's son, says his father's Antarctic adventure is hugely important to him.

Sir Edmund completed the South Pole trip just four years after the first ascent of Mt Everest.

"He saw it as one of his major achievements, saying it was an extreme challenge after Everest," Mr Hillary said.

"He spent a lot of time in that hut, it was where his office was and where his bunk bed was."

The fundraiser coincides with the 60th anniversary of Kiwi research in Antarctica and the trust hopes to raise the $1 million before the start of summer research.

Up to 200 Kiwis will head to Antarctica this summer for the anniversary.

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