Virtual reality gives chance to explore Hillary's Antarctica hut from comfort of home

Kaitlin Ruddock
Source: 1News

The public now have the chance to step inside Sir Edmund Hillary's hut in Antarctica, without leaving their own front door.

The launch of a new virtual reality experience today offers a guided journey through the 1957 container that established New Zealand's Scott Base.

For AUT Associate Professor Barbara Bollard, every time she watches it, “I see it myself, it's as if I'm there”.

It's hoped thousands of Kiwis will feel the same way, a VR experience showcasing how Sir Edmund Hillary and his team of 23 lived and worked on the frozen continent 60 years ago.

They built the hut to support the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which saw Sir Ed traverse to the South Pole on Ferguson tractors, and the International Geophysical Year. The Antarctic Heritage Trust conserved the building in time for Scott Base’s 60th anniversary in 2017.

AHT Executive Director Nigel Watson says people will have the chance to see “some of the objects, the rooms, and indispersed with that is some of the original footage of the expedition”.

AUT scientists travelled in Antarctica to carry out 3D scans of the area.

Ms Bollard says the gear “performed really well”.

“We're talking about sub zero temperatures, minus 20 was our coldest day”.

They then handed that data to the AUT design team, led by Gregory Bennett.

He says their job “really was to shrink these huge datasets down and make them work in a game engine which has allowed us to create this immersive virtual reality experience”.

Early fans include the Prime Minister, who gave it a test drive this morning.

Jacinda Ardern says she thinks its “fantastic” to be able to “bring that Antarctic experience, particularly of Sir Ed's hut and particularly to young people”.

People can soon try it for themselves at public spaces around the country , by downloading the Antarctic Heritage Trust VR app or on the gaming platform Steam.