Scott Bases oldest building, a hut built by a Sir Edmund Hillary-led team, is about to open its doors to the public virtually.
New Zealands Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, today launched Antarctic Heritage Trusts unique virtual reality experience of Sir Edmund Hillarys Antarctic hut at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in South Auckland.
Developed in partnership with Auckland University of Technology over two years, the virtual reality experience allows users to explore Sir Edmund Hillarys hut in Antarctica. The experience provides insight into how the 23 men of Sir Eds team lived and worked in the worlds most extreme environment more than 60 years ago.
Hillarys hut was Scott Bases first building and was built by a team led by Sir Ed to support the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition and the International Geophysical Year. The Trust conserved the building in time for Scott Bases 60th anniversary in 2017.
Users can tour the five rooms of the building, viewing hundreds of artefacts from the early years of New Zealands Antarctic programme and learn more about New Zealands first presence in Antarctica.
The Trusts General Manager Operations and Communications Francesca Eathorne who oversaw the project development, hopes thousands of people from around the world will take up the opportunity to explore the hut virtually.
A version of the full experience is available for free via Antarctic Heritage Trusts app
and the gaming platform Steam.
Virtual reality allows people to visit these important sites without travelling there, which is expensive and difficult to do. Hopefully the fascinating stories of what Sir Ed and his team achieved will inspire people to explore.
Professor Barbara Bollard from Auckland University of Technology, who helped collect the data to create the virtual reality, says it was a privilege to be involved in bringing the heritage site to life.
Its one thing to read about a place or see photos, but to interactively walk around and experience it as if you are there, really cements the connection. It creates a greater awareness and appreciation of the importance and value of these places.
Principal sponsor Ryman Healthcares Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said New Zealands largest retirement village operator was delighted to be asked to support the VR experience.
This project will bring a unique Antarctic experience to thousands of people who otherwise could not get there. Sir Eds hut is part of the rich history of Antarctic exploration and we will be taking this experience to as many of our residents as we can. I am sure they are going to love it.
The initial launch date in March was put on hold due to COVID19 restrictions and the nationwide lockdown.