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Leading young explorers to tackle biggest challenge yet


Leading young explorers ready to tackle biggest challenge yet

A record-setting Kiwi explorer, a New Zealand endurance athlete, a respected international videographer and an intrepid Australian adventurer (who once slept for nearly three months to overcome a head injury) are preparing for the challenge of a lifetime – traversing the Greenland Ice Cap.

This will be the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s third Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition and will see the team attempt to ski across the second largest body of ice in the world over a month, dragging 60 kilogramme sleds behind them for more than 560 kilometres.

The expedition will begin in early May, and will honour iconic Norwegian polar explorer, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen.

Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson, who will also attempt the crossing, says this will be the Trust’s longest and most challenging Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition yet.

“Part of the Trust’s mission is to encourage the spirit of exploration. This expedition will celebrate the 130th anniversary of one of the world’s great polar exploration stories - Nansen’s crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap in 1888, the first time the feat was accomplished. Nansen’s experience and his pioneering polar equipment revolutionised long distance polar travel. The Trust has conserved items including Nansen sledges and Nansen cookers in the early explorers’ huts that we care for in Antarctica, tangible examples of Nansen’s influence on the likes of Scott and Shackleton.”

“Our own expedition will be the challenge of a lifetime. We handpicked the final four young people from nearly 200 applicants and we are very excited about the calibre of the team.”

24 year-old New Zealander Brando Yelavich was just 19 when he became the first person to circumnavigate New Zealand on foot. He followed that with an unforgiving 32-day solo trip around Stewart Island, and is about to set off on a tour of New Zealand schools to inspire Kiwi kids.

Christchurch’s Hollie Woodhouse is an endurance athlete who has competed in some of the most gruelling adventure races on the planet, from the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert, to the 230km Jungle Ultra through the Amazon. She’s also the founder of a successful adventure magazine ‘Say Yes To Adventure’.

Australian Bridget Kruger has worked as an outdoor instructor and adventure therapist all over the world. In 2012, she overcame a traumatic head injury after being run over by a dog-sled. She slept for three months before undergoing intensive therapy to regain her short-term memory, the ability to balance, and to think coherently.

Melbourne’s Keith Parsons is a skilled videographer. He has worked as a freelancer in Africa and Australia, and for major news media companies and NGOs in the United Kingdom and Australia. He is an avid trail runner with a passion for history and the environment.

Renowned Norwegian company Borge Ousland Polar Exploration’s head guide Bengt Rotmo will lead the crossing. He has a wealth of polar guiding experience in Greenland and beyond.

“All of our Inspiring Explorers will be working hard to share their story of the Greenland expedition. Through this we hope to inspire others to get out, explore and make the most of the incredible world we live in.”

New Zealand outdoors company Kathmandu has signed on as an expedition sponsor. The team will be road-testing some of their XT Series, which has been specifically developed for extreme environments.

Kathmandu Marketing Manager Tim Loftus says the company was built on innovation and the hunger to explore so partnering with the Trust for this expedition was an easy decision.

“We encourage our customers every day to get out and explore what the world has to offer, so we’re proud to support this expedition which encapsulates the true spirit of inspiration and exploration.”

The Greenland Ice Cap Crossing Expedition will take place from May 2-June 4 (approximate finish date depending on conditions).


Background Information

The Antarctic Heritage Trust is a New Zealand-based not-for-profit with a vision of ‘Inspiring Explorers’.

A world leader in cold climate heritage conservation, the Trust cares for the expedition base huts and 20,000 artefacts left behind by early Antarctic explorers including Captain Robert Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Edmund Hillary and Carsten Borchgrevink.

The Trust shares the legacy of exploration through outreach programmes and encourages the spirit of exploration through expeditions to engage and inspire a new generation.

You can read more at nzaht.org


Inspiring Explorer Biographies

Brando Yelavich

Brando Yelavich will be a name familiar to many New Zealanders. Brando was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia at a young age, and struggled with traditional learning environments. Feeling despondent about his place in life, he made a bold decision to circumnavigate the entire coastline of New Zealand, a feat that had never been accomplished before.

Brando set off on 1 February 2013, thinking it may take him eight or nine months to complete the expedition. Six hundred days and over 8,700kms later he completed his journey and his life was changed forever.

Since then, Brando has dedicated himself to becoming a full-time explorer. He put the icing on the cake of his circumnavigation of New Zealand by completing an expedition around Stewart Island, at the bottom of the South Island, and has ventured to the Himalayas. He is passionate about inspiring others to explore the world around them through school talks and presentations, and his growing online presence. In his own words, “There’s no right or wrong in adventure. It’s a beautiful way to bring people together and to spread happiness. I want to inspire curiosity and exploration for all of humanity.”


Hollie Woodhouse

Christchurch-based designer and adventure enthusiast Hollie Woodhouse isn’t one to shy away from an opportunity to explore the world, a fact that’s perhaps best summed up by the name of the magazine she founded in 2015 - ‘Say Yes To Adventure’. Hollie’s thirst for adventure has taken her to the Sahara Desert and the Amazon Jungle, where she competed in endurance events covering over 200km in five days. Back home, Hollie has competed in events including the Coast To Coast and Red Bull Defiance.

Hollie is passionate about inspiring others to get into the great outdoors and give things a go. In addition to Say Yes To Adventure, she is an avid blogger, having written about her travels and adventures for the past five years. As well as this she has shared her stories of exploration and discovery through public talks and presentations.


Bridget Kruger

Thirty-year-old Bridget Kruger is no stranger to the great outdoors, having worked for years as an outdoor instructor and adventure therapist all over the world. Bridget divides her home time between Australia and New Zealand, depending on where her work takes her. She has something of a Nansen connection herself - with family based in Norway - where she studied for a semester for a Masters of Trans- Cultural European Outdoor Studies.

Bridget had a life-altering experience while working in Canada as a dog sled guide. She was involved in a serious accident, when a person lost control of their sled and ran her over, leading to a traumatic head injury. Bridget slept for nearly three months and had to regain her short-term memory, the ability to think coherently, as well as the ability to balance properly. Through her long recovery, Bridget found solace in nature. As she puts it, “There is something about adventuring in nature that ignites the spirit and brings out the best in us.”

Keith Parsons

Australian Keith Parsons has managed to pack a lot into his twenty-seven years. A skilled photographer and videographer, Keith’s work has taken him all over the world. In between stints in London and Melbourne working as a picture editor for The Telegraph and a content coordinator for a non-government organisation, he spent a year in sub-Saharan Africa, where he worked as a freelance visual journalist. Keith is an avid endurance runner, mountain biker and all-round outdoor enthusiast.

Coupled with his love of the outdoors is a passion for polar-history, and the exploits of heroic-era explorers like Fridtjof Nansen. Keith describes Nansen’s influence in exploration and beyond, “Fridtjof Nansen’s original journey is, in my mind, one of the most notable feats of polar exploration, as we know it ushered in a prolonged period of firsts. However, to me Nansen’s political andhumanitarian efforts are even greater; resulting in his 1922 Nobel Peace Prize.”

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