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These 7,000+ historic photographs from Sir Edmund Hillary’s extensive personal collection provide a first-hand look at his world-leading expeditions, from the summit of Mount Everest to the South Pole in Antarctica. Also his early life beekeeping in Dargaville, later travels with his young family, and his subsequent humanitarian work around the world.
Recognised internationally for its importance, this collection has been placed on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Register alongside other documentary heritage taonga The Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.
This collection features childhood photographs of Edmund Hillary growing up with his family in Dargaville, Auckland, and on the family apiary in Tuakau. It also features later photographs of Edmund Hillary’s own young family as they travelled the world on lecture tours and expeditions.
Before Everest, Edmund Hillary took part in many tramping and climbing expeditions across New Zealand throughout the 1940s. Many of these climbs took place in the Southern Alps in the Aoraki Mt Cook area, providing Hillary with challenging environments in which to refine his mountaineering skills.
Hillary, Ruth Adams and Mick Sullivan’s historic ascent of the South Ridge of Mount Cook in February 1948 was overshadowed by an accident a few days later on Mount Perouse which required a dramatic high-altitude rescue expedition. Some of these moments can be seen in this collection of images.
This collection features images of Sir Edmund Hillary’s travel throughout the Himalayas including his historic first ascent of Mount Everest with the British Expedition of 1953. The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolunga, which can be translated as Goddess Mother of the World.
Khumjung School was built in 1961 with the help of Hillary and his team, and locals from Khunde and Khumjung. Many communities were eager to continue this development and with the support of Hillary and the Himalayan Trust they were able to build schools, hospitals and other key pieces of infrastructure in the remote mountain areas of Nepal.
Public interest in the Yeti, a legendary creature of the alpine regions of the Himalayas, attracted funding for Hillary’s 1961 Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition. This expedition was primarily a scientific study into the effects of high altitude on climbers’ bodies, but also included an eight-week trek in search of evidence of the abominable snowman.
A few years after Everest, Hillary had another opportunity to achieve a world-first when he was invited to lead the New Zealand division of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1956. This was an ambitious project that involved the establishment of Scott Base and became a full scale expedition to reach the South Pole over land on specially modified tractors.
The Ocean to Sky expedition of 1977 saw Sir Edmund Hillary and his party, including his son Peter, travel up the sacred Ganges river in jet boats, in an attempt to follow the river to its source in the Himalayan Mountains. Captured by Michael Dillon and depicted in his film From the Ocean to the Sky, this was one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s last major expeditions.