Let’s turk about Cape Adare
Let’s turk about Cape Adare
Wednesday 22 November 2017
Artist’s impression of the huts
Some good old-fashioned kiwi ingenuity is in hot demand for the coldest place on earth.
Arrowtown adventurer, Erik Bradshaw, with the support of New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, has designed and is building three temporary huts for Cape Adare in Antarctica … out of plastic water tanks!
An avid adventurer, Mr Bradshaw designed a prototype for an emergency backcountry ski hut in Arrowtown. Antarctica New Zealand has commissioned him to provide three for the southern continent.
The tanks, called ‘turks’ (not a tank, not a hut, not a yurt!), have a 10m² floor area and cost about $15,000 each. They’re being transformed into a living area, a work shed and a store room for Cape Adare. They’ll stay put there for the next four years as a temporary base for New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust experts conserving the first building on the continent - the hut of early explorer Carsten Borchgrevink.
Mr Bradshaw is well aware of the conditions his huts will face.
“Temperatures reach -30 degrees, winds can get over 200 km/hr … these huts need to be sturdy! We’ll fill their bases with 2 tonnes of gravel, so they won’t go anywhere in the harsh Antarctic conditions” he says. “They’re also relatively light, so we can move them by helicopter. We’ll have the whole camp set up in a day.”
The turks take six weeks to assemble, and are being built in Lyttelton. They’ll be transported onto the Chinese ship Xue Long On November 26th for a long trip to Antarctica. They’ll eventually arrive in February next year.
“Cape Adare is also home to the world’s largest Adélie penguin rookery, so we have to time the turk’s arrival for when the birds have finished nesting” says Mr Bradshaw.
Kiwi ingenuity doesn’t stop there! Antarctic Heritage Trust staff will sleep in ‘Polar Pods’ (see image below) designed by Programme Manager, Al Fastier, specifically for Cape Adare. He describes them as ‘wooden mountain tents’ – built to withstand the extreme weather conditions.
“They’re double skinned and insulated. They even have double glazed polycarbonate windows, so you can watch the storms go by outside. They’re kind of like human-sized dog-boxes!” says Mr Fastier.
The newly placed huts and polar
pods will sit at Cape Adare for a year until the Antarctic
Heritage Trust returns to continue their restoration of
• Carsten Borchgrevink was a Norwegian explorer who travelled to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Expedition in 1898-1900.
• Robert Falcon Scott’s Northern Party expedition also used the hut in 1911.
• Borchgrevink’s hut is the only example left in the world of humanity’s first building on a continent.
• The remoteness of Cape Adare (about 700km north of Scott Base) poses many logistical challenges for scientists and restoration experts.
• Antarctica New Zealand has funded the turks.
• The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust removed more than 1000 artefacts from the hut over the 2015/16 season. A 118 year-old water colour by Dr Edward Wilson and a 106 year-old fruit cake, both thought to be from Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘Terra Nova’ expedition, were discovered amongst the artefacts.
• The Norwegian Government is helping to fund the work, and Antarctica NZ is providing logistical support.