They planted ice trees to pass the time.
The hapless Australasian Antarctic Expedition is finally homeward bound – and thousands of trees will have to be planted to offset the carbon footprint from the prolonged rescue effort.
The Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck in thick pack ice some 3000km southwest of Bluff on Christmas Eve.
The 52 passengers, including six New Zealanders, spent eight days trapped before a helicopter from the Chinese ship Xue Long transferred them to Australian vessel Aurora Australis, which will take them to Hobart.
Yesterday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the Xue Long’s attempt to manoeuvre through the ice had been unsuccessful and it was now also beset by ice.
The expedition had pledged to plant about 800 kauri trees in Northland to cover its carbon footprint. Environmentalists believe planting trees helps to offset the impact of burning fuels such as diesel.
But former Act Party leader and Herald on Sunday columnist Rodney Hide said that would have to increase to about 5000 trees to make up for the fossil fuels burned in the rescue.