Student would like to return to Antarctica

JAMES BORROWDALE
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2012

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A Timaru student says his time in Antarctica has been "overwhelming".

John Evans, 21, has been on the ice since November 2 as the Sir Peter Blake Trust's Antarctic Youth Ambassador. He is working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) to restore Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans to its former glory.

He said spending time in the hut gave him an appreciation for what the early explorers went through.

"The history is still so intact," Mr Evans said.

"You get a very good appreciation for what it was like to live down here and what they endured and the sort of food and equipment they had."

He said the AHT team camped 100 metres from Scott's hut and that conditions were "very similar" to those faced by the explorers. "When we read Scott's diary, we know exactly what it is like to have a 40 knot wind in your face all day."

Mr Evans, who will next year complete a degree in mechanical engineering from Canterbury University, said that his most vivid experience was his arrival in Antarctica.

"The thing that sticks in my mind is stepping off the plane, and remembering how bitterly cold it was when we walked off. It was around minus 20."

He said the weather, the continent's vastness and its corresponding lack of perspective made Antarctica a challenging place to live.

"You're flying in a helicopter and all this space is going by, and then you get out and you have no idea where you are."

"When you are by yourself, it is emotionally overwhelming."

The AHT programme manager, Al Fastier, said Mr Evans was a crucial part of the team.

"John has come along with very good practical skills and has brought a lot to the team.

"He has a really good work ethic and a passion for life.

"He has become a valued team member and a good friend and colleague, so he must be congratulated for that."

Mr Evans is due to return to New Zealand on February 3 but said he would love to some day return to Antarctica.

"It is a place that I really love, but it is not terribly easy to get to. I'm treating the opportunity as a one-off, but I am hoping that in the future another opportunity arises to come down here."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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