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Report on the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition 1960-61: VUWAE 4


The time for organisation for a University Antarctic Expedition is very short. No logistic buying can be begun before grants applied for are officially assured. This means that until late September when the news of the largest grant applied for was confirmed, no large-scale buying could be carried out. On the other hand, applications for grants in February would have to be made before personnel were chosen or could give definite assurance of participation. Again, in the September to early November period (embarkation was 12th November) there is a rush from other expeditions (both government and private) on the few firms in New Zealand supplying equipment and some items were scarce. It was in regard to this rush most fortunate that the major grant, the University of New Zealand grant, enabled V.U.W.A.E. to be financial enough to devote the balance of the D.S.I.R. grant to buying food direct from the Antarctic Division.

Apart from organisation work to mount the Expedition the time needed to buy new or repair old equipment cannot be overstressed. The worst instance of this was the need to call fifteen times on a firm that ultimately effected inefficient repairs to stoves.

The weight of pre-Expedition organisation falls on the University staff component as the student members must be left unhampered to study (successfully) for examinations. The staff members' end-of-year pre-Expedition period becomes as a consequence a hectic gallop which is maintained until one's feet are at last planted on the calm bleakness of the ice-free area.

Equipment used by V.U.W.A.E. was efficient and durable, except that trouble, as on previous V.U.W.A.E., was experienced with sunglasses and snow goggles which broke far too easily. Some items of clothing were outstanding - and made in New Zealand. The Antarctic Division, D.S.I.R., (hereafter referred to as “A.D.D.S.I.R.”) rations were very, very good and this is said despite the fact that this standard field ration was unvaried over two months. It is to be admitted however that in our base camps we had “goodies” both donated, by wellwishers and relatives of the party, and purchased. A conversation with Dr. Pardue, United States Navy at McMurdo Base brought to page 3 light the interesting fact that United States survival rations for each of a group of three men, two “up and around” one resting in sleeping bag, was 4,500 calories and the V.U.W.A.E. and D.S.I.R. basic ration calory content was 4,773. This Expedition considers that in the Antarctic, the back-packing, tramping and climbing requirements must be well above both the calories per day figures stated above; extra items at each of the three base camps, particularly those for Christmas, raised the calorific intake over the field period.