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Tractors close in on Antarctic goal

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/09/2016

Nearly a month after setting out and covering the equivalent of Scott Base to the South Pole, a warm reception is expected for three tractors on a mission to save an historic Antarctic hut.

Expedition South, comprising two decades-old Fergusson TE20s (like the tractors that Sir Edmund Hillary took to the South Pole) and a more modern Massey Ferguson Antarctica 2, are expected to complete their 2012km journey at Aoraki/Mt Cook Village on Monday afternoon.

The tractors left Piha Beach, near Auckland, last month as part of efforts by the Antarctic Heritage Trust to raise $1 million to conserve Sir Ed''s hut, also known as the Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut, which was the first building constructed at Scott Base in 1957.

"We will have an historic Beaver plane - like the one Sir Ed's expedition took to Antarctica - fly over the tractors which will be led by a team of husky dogs," said trust executive director Nigel Watson.

Descendants of Peter Mulgrew, Murray Ellis and Harry Ayres, who went to Antarctica with Sir Ed, will also be present.

Expedition leader Al Fastier says it has been an epic journey.

"The journey itself has been breathtaking in parts and difficult in others - we've battled mechanical failure, snow and storms."

Mr Watson said the expedition had raised more than $90,000.

"Other donations mean we have now raised around $680,000 to save the hut. We still need around $320,000 so are calling on New Zealanders to join us with one final push to save this iconic slice of Kiwi history."

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