Sir Edmund Hillary's grandson to follow in his footsteps

Must See 13/02/2019

Sir Edmund Hillary's grandson is continuing the family tradition of expeditions to Antarctica.

But Alex Hillary will be using a very different type of transport to his granddad's Massey Ferguson tractor.

The adventurous spirit has been passed down the Hillary bloodline, but Alex is learning a new skill.

"No Hillarys have done kayaking expeditions so this is going to be a family first," he says.

Alex joins a diverse group, including two students of Otara's Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, heading to Antarctica 61 years after his grandfather arrived at the pole on a Massey Ferguson tractor.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust takes young people on expeditions to remote parts of the world to share stories of exploration and preserve the history of the early explorers. 

The first trip they undertook was a crossing of South Georgia to commemorate Shackleton's famous Endurance expedition.

In 2017 they took a team to climb Mt Scott on the Antarctic Peninsula, and last year completed a crossing of Greenland in the footsteps of Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen.

For their fourth trip they've enlisted Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson who's built a career around exploring wild places, but Antarctica is a first for him.

"It's totally outside my comfort zone.

"I never thought I'd get the chance to go there and it's a sea kayaking trip which is quite different to what we do on the rivers around the world.

The team spent the day getting to know each other at the Vector Wero Whitewater Park in South Auckland, but the conditions there are very different to the ones they'll encounter in a few weeks.

In Antarctica there won't be rapids, although it will be a little colder if someone falls in, which happened to Otara students Lana Kiddie-Vai and Mele Fetu'u.

"I really hope I don't do that in Antarctica," Lana says.

Newshub chatted to Alex at the desk his grandfather sat at to plan his famous expeditions.

"Discussions about planning, logistics, and the incredible experience of being down there.

I've grown up listening to it so it's a thrill to be heading down on my own expedition with this fantastic team."

On a shelf in Sir Ed's study are some of his silk scarves, a symbol of the respect he earned from the Nepalese.

But does his grandson consider him New Zealand royalty?

"I wouldn't say he was a particularly royal person," Alex laughs.

"But he was a very special and very humble person and he loved New Zealand so much."

A new generation venturing to Antarctica, but the same sense of adventure that made Hillary a household name.

Newshub.