Ancient Kiwi butter found in Antarctica

Last updated 10:24 14/12/2009

The restoration team working on an old Antarctic hut have discovered two blocks of well preserved Kiwi butter, believed to be the oldest in the world.

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What is believed to be the world's oldest block of butter has been discovered in the Antarctic.

The Kiwi butter was found frozen in the stable area adjacent to Robert Falcon Scott's hut.

"I think the butter was absolutely a treasure find," says Lizzie Meek, Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Until recently much of the hut was surrounded by snow and ice. A restoration team were working on the adjoining stables when they made the discovery, near a pile of empty butter boxes.

"Oh just tremendous! It looked like an old wrinkly bag and you look inside and saw the wonderful Silver Fern logo," says Meek.

The two-block butter is believed to be the oldest in the world.

"What's amazing is how strong that smells. Nearly a 100 years - very very strong, possibly a bit too strong?" Meek says.

The butter will now be carefully restored.

"(It's) very exciting because there's such a strong connection with New Zealand. And a lot of supplies were given to the expedition by NZ companies and New Zealand people. But it's great to find one with that instantly recognisable Silver Fern and in such great condition relatively speaking," says Meek.

The staff are eager to know where it came from. The label says CCCDC, which is understood to stand for the Canterbury Central Co-operative Dairy Company. The company is thought to have formed in the 1890's and was based in Christchurch.

The big question now is where they are going to keep it as it hardly ever gets above minus ten in the Antarctic stables. The plan is to put the block back where they found it. If it does not deteriorate, they will leave it for another 100 years.

"I hope it'll look pretty similar, perhaps a little dustier but pretty much exactly the same," says Meek.

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- TVNZ

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