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NZ mountaineering and exploration exhibition

October 11, 2004

Greatest NZ mountaineering and exploration exhibition seen to open at the Otago Museum on Friday night

The greatest mountaineering and exploration exhibition ever seen in New Zealand opens at the Otago Museum in Dunedin on Friday night.

The Sir Edmund Hillary: Everest and Beyond exhibition opens Friday and ends on March 21. The Otago Museum is the only South Island venue for the special exhibition.

The Hillary exhibition includes the floppy hat he wore and the ice axe he used on the historic May, 1953 conquering of Everest.

Sir Ed and members of the Himalayan Trust will attend the official opening on Friday night.

Museum director Shimrath Paul said they hoped to attract 40,000 people to the exhibition which is expected to be one of the most popular ever held in the southern capital.

``This looks set to rival the Chinese Dinosaurs exhibition which attracted 50,000 visitors last year. We know people will be very keen to have their photo alongside ‘’Hillary and Tenzing’’ on the Everest climb’. The exhibition was developed by the Auckland Museum in partnership with the National Geographic Society, curated by Alexa Johnston with the full support of Sir Edmund and Lady Hillary.

It was hugely successful at the National Geographic Explorer’s Hall of Fame in Washington DC last year.

``The exhibition is truly an international showcase of remarkable treasures ,’’ Mr Paul said.

``This is an outstanding opportunity for New Zealanders, and potentially the last time the public will ever see such an extensive Hillary collection,’’ he said.

The exhibition explores all aspects of Hillary's life, from his early years as a beekeeper and novice climber, to his celebrated Everest climb 51 years ago, to his humanitarian work for the people of the Himalaya.

It shows panoramic landscapes, original film footage of the 1953 expedition, replica Sherpa buildings and never-before-seen objects from the Everest ascent. It charts Hillary's other journeys, including his South Pole tractor trek in 1957, and his jet boat journey up the Ganges River following the death of his wife and daughter in 1975.

Exhibit highlights include: the ice axe he used on Everest; the Kodak Retina 35mm camera with which he took the legendary summit photographs; the clothing he wore on the summit; the nylon rope, oxygen frame, pack and mask he used during the climb; one of three tractors driven to the South Pole; precious gifts from Sherpa friends; his famous home-made blue and white sunhat; and a selection of Hillary's many awards and decorations from the Order of the Garter to a medal from the Kathmandu Taxi Drivers Association.

The Otago Museum was judged the best culture and heritage attraction in New Zealand at the recent Tourism Awards.

ENDS


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