Tales from the Frozen Planet

'We were slowly dying without realising it'

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 15:17 16/09/2012
chadden
INTREPID JOURNEYS: Chadden Hunter.

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Slowly suffocating on volcanic gases while trapped in an ice cave is all in a day's work for the director of BBC's Frozen Planet series.

This experience is one many memories Australian Chadden Hunter has after being the director of the David Attenborough series, which was filmed over nearly four years in both polar regions.

Hunter said that as much as the 10 crew planned for the series, they could never predict nature.

For example, in the Mt Erebus ice caves, a blizzard  blocked the entrance.

''There are a lot of dangers you can't see coming.''

Hunter said the crew were all suffering ''splitting headaches'' from the volcanic gases but thought it was because of working at 13,000 feet.

''We were all probably slowly dying without realising it. We had to climb up this ice wall and hack through where we thought the opening was.''

He said there was ''no plan B'' when it came to nature, but they took only calculated risks.

Despite his lips turning blue and starting to peel off, Hunter described scuba diving under about 3 metres of Antarctic sea ice with no safety rope attached while being circled by penguins and sea leopards as a ''phenomenal'' experience.

''It's one of the most tremendous things you can do.''

He said being circled by wildlife was like a scene from a science fiction movie.

Hunter is in Christchurch for IceFest, where he will give people a behind-the-scenes insight into the series and talk about topics such as climate change and how to achieve the balance between entertainment and education.

IceFest director Jo Blair said it was a coup to have Hunter at the festival.

She said Hunter, a biologist, was a great story-teller who could break complex science into simple human stories.
Hunter will be speaking at 7.30pm in the North Hagley Park Geo Dome tonight. Tickets cost $20, plus $2 booking fee, or $25 at the door.

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