A lasting legacy

A vast scientific collection

Terra Nova returned from Antarctica with hundreds of crates, jars and bottles, containing thousands of specimens. They made an important contribution to what is known about the geology and biology of Antarctica.

New species were described, the taxonomy of some already known species were reviewed and the geographical distribution of others became clearer. The Terra Nova expedition specimens are still an important part of the collections of the Canterbury Museum and the Natural History Museum, and are available to scientists for research, today and in the future.

The scientific programme undertaken by the Terra Nova expedition was at the time one of the broadest and most comprehensive ever conducted in Antarctica. The results were published in 80 individual reports produced by 59 different specialists, covering zoology, geology, botany, meteorology, magnetism, glaciology and physiography. The reports were a significant contribution to the understanding of Antarctica.

Antarctic feather star

Antarctic feather star, Promachocrinus kerguelensis
© The Natural History Museum

The science of Antarctica

The scientific nature of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition expanded the range of scientific disciplines practised in Antarctica and demonstrated a desire to know more about what was then a relatively unknown continent.

Antarctica continues to attract researchers from around the world. Uniquely adapted forms of plant and animal life, unusual weather phenomena and large glaciers are among many features that make Antarctica a natural laboratory for researchers. With no borders, it is also a hub for international scientific collaboration. Investigation into global issues such as climate change, space weather and world sea levels shed light on matters that affect us all.

Specimens in jar

Isopod, Glyptonotus antarcticus
© Royal Geographical Society

An iconic heritage site

One hundred years on, the hut built by Scott and his team still stands.

Since 1911 it has survived many Antarctic winters and endured countless blizzards that have scoured its outer wooden walls. Inside are large quantities of provisions and equipment they left behind – skis, sledges, clothing, personal items and food. The large table still dominates the central space and the bunks and scientists’ benches remain piled with equipment.

Although weatherworn, it is an astonishing testament to Scott’s last expedition and an age of Antarctic exploration. Today, it is cared for on behalf of the international community by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust. As guardians, the trust is supported by organisations worldwide – a reflection of the international value placed on this remarkable heritage site.

A unique conservation project

The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust manages the long term conservation project of Scott’s hut at Cape Evans to preserve this legacy of Antarctic exploration.

International teams of conservation carpenters spend the short Antarctic summer months conserving and weather-proofing the wooden hut, while conservators from around the world work throughout the year on the thousands of artefacts that were left behind. Together they ensure that this remarkable monument to adventure and exploration remains to inspire current and future generations.

Saving the Expedition bases of the First Antarctic Explorers