Image Shackleton expedition at Lyttelton Harbour, 1914

TLF ID R4226

This is a black-and-white photograph showing the sailing ship 'Endurance' being loaded with ponies and sled dogs at Lyttelton (east coast of the South Island of New Zealand) for Ernest Shackleton's expedition to Antarctica. A crowd of people is aboard the ship, watching proceedings, and there are groups of people in the foreground and along a pier in the background. The photograph was taken by James McDonald in 1914 and measures 5 cm x 7 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts departure preparations for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition - led by the British explorer Ernest Shackleton and departing England in August 1914, the expedition aimed to achieve the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent but failed; this expedition is regarded by some as one of the last great adventures in the heroic age of exploration.
  • It illustrates the beginning of an expedition that became an incredible feat of survival - when the 'Endurance' was trapped in the ice pack and crushed, some 130 km from their destination, Shackleton and his crew of 27 were marooned for 20 months; two dramatic voyages by open boat were made before their eventual rescue.
  • It shows the preparations for an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton, the renowned British explorer who had been involved in two high-profile expeditions to Antarctica before leading this expedition in 1914 - despite the experience of being marooned, in 1921 he led one more expedition, during which he died of a heart attack on board his ship 'Quest', anchored off South Georgia Island, on 5 January 1922; Shackleton was buried at Grytviken, on South Georgia Island.
  • It suggests the importance of Lyttelton to Antarctic exploration - expeditions from many nations used the port and nearby city of Christchurch when making final preparations for the trip to Antarctica; Christchurch is now regarded as one of the main gateways to Antarctica in servicing New Zealand's Scott Base, the United States's McMurdo and South Pole stations and the Italian Terra Nova Base; the New Zealand, United States and Italian Antarctic programs are based at the International Antarctic Centre at Christchurch International Airport.
  • It is an example of the work of James McDonald who worked for the Dominion Museum (forerunner of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) as a photographer and art assistant, maintaining the photographic collection and producing paintings, drawings and photographs.
Year level

3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: James McDonald
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: James McDonald
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements