Antarctic Heroes: The race to the South Pole 

Exhibition now closed
29 May – 26 October 2004
Free entry

Te Papa celebrates the heroic era of Antarctic exploration with Antarctic Heroes: The race to the South Pole. This exhibition tells the epic stories of three of the Antarctic’s greatest heroes – Captain Robert Scott, Roald Amundsen, and Ernest Shackleton.

Antarctic Heroes asks why these men were so passionate about reaching the South Pole, how their extraordinary feats of endurance and bravery were achieved, and what factors contributed to the tragedies that befell them.

One of the major attractions of Antarctic Heroes is the James Caird – the lifeboat in which Ernest Shackleton, his navigator – New Zealander Frank Worsley – and four other men made one of the greatest small-boat voyages ever. In order to save their marooned crewmates, these brave adventurers sailed 1,300 kilometres across the treacherous Southern Ocean, then Shackleton and two of his men crossed on foot the uncharted mountain ranges of the island South Georgia – a rugged, non-stop 36-hour trek.

The James Caird has been specially brought over from England for this exhibition, which provides New Zealanders with the rare chance to see this historic craft. Antarctic Heroes features many other items including personal belongings of explorers, scientific equipment – including Amundsen’s compass – and the Union Jack that Scott carried to the South Pole. Period photographs, film footage, and audio excerpts of polar explorers also feature. 

Frank Hurley’s astounding film South, which uses original footage shot on the expedition to tell the incredible story of the Endurance and the James Caird, screens in Antarctic Heroes.

This exhibition is based on the hugely successful South: The race to the pole exhibition developed by the National Maritime Museum in London.  

The Dominion Post