Journey to the South Pole

One hundred years ago today, January 17th 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four other men, reached the South Pole. They had hoped to be the first to reach the South Pole but were very disappointed to find the Norwegian flag flying there. The explorer, Roald Amundsen from Norway, with three other men, reached the South Pole on December 14th 1911. The story of how Scott and his party died on the way back to their camp is a story well-known by New Zealand school children. They became heroes for New Zealanders. Christchurch has a statue of Captain Scott, made by his wife in Britain. It was damaged in the February earthquake last year but will be repaired one day. Click here to see a photo of Scott’s statue.

Scott in fact was British but his party spent time in Christchurch, preparing for his journey. In November 1911, they left for Antarctica on the ship, the Terra Nova (which means new land). The Terra Nova returned to Christchurch in 1913 with the news that the five men had died.

Although Scott did not win the race to the South Pole, his party began the scientific interest in Antarctica which continues today. His party collected fossils of green plants, similar to those in warmer countries. This showed that Antarctica had once been part of Gondwanaland before it broke up 180 million years ago. Scott’s men studied rocks, the weather, the sea ice, glaciers, the sea currents and penguins.

disappointed – sad because they wanted to be first
party – group of people
heroes – famous because they were brave; New Zealanders admire them (like them very much).
fossils – part of a plant or animal that lived long ago, found in a rock
Gondwanaland – continents joined together
glaciers – ice rivers
currents – movement of the water


Past perfect tense – “had hoped to be the first”. This was before another event in the past i.e. when they arrived at the South Pole.
“news that the five men had died”. They died in 1912. The news was in 1913. Past perfect shows that their deaths happened before the news.

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