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Chilling out . . . David Harrowfield sets foot for the first time on the shore of Borradaile Island, one of the Balleny Islands near the Antarctic. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Even more rare is someone who has been to the southernmost continent nearly 50 times.

Oamaru man David Harrowfield is proud he can admit to such an achievement.

Recently, Dr Harrowfield took part in an expedition to the Antarctic that was led by Christchurch-based company Heritage Expeditions.

The expedition, aiming to explore the Balleny Islands, set off from Bluff in late January and returned to Lyttelton a month later.

A Russian ship, the ice-strengthened Akademik Shokalskiy, was used to carry out the expedition, and about 50 guests and staff took part in the voyage.

Dr Harrowfield’s role in the team included interpretation, giving lectures, and writing for both the logbook and the captain’s log.

The Balleny Islands held particular value to the science community because not much was known about them, he said.

Previous expeditions had collected geological and marine biological specimens such as rock, moss and fish, and a lot were new to scientists.

In the past, Dr Harrowfield had travelled to the islands but never set foot on them. Ice and inclement weather often made it hard for explorers to reach the area.

“The weather dictates how the sea will perform as indeed the ice does,” he said.

“It’s very, very rare to get into these places.”

Each island is covered in ice and exposed rock.

Although he was only able to spend an hour on one of the islands, it was an hour Dr Harrowfield would treasure forever.

Tip of the iceberg . . . An iceberg floats in the ocean off Buckle Island, one of the Balleny Islands.It is rare to meet someone who has been to the Antarctic. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Since his first trip to the Antarctic in 1974-75, he has written many detailed diaries about his various expeditions, and he hoped those diaries would eventually be accepted by Otago Museum.

Dr Harrowfield has already put his name down for another trip to the Antarctic next year.

“One day, I won’t be able to do this sort of work – I can’t go on forever,” he said.

One of his favourite parts of the job was being able to teach others about the continent.

“I get an enormous joy out of passing information on to people,” he said.

He would also learn a thing or two on every trip.

“Every expedition has something that I’ve never seen or done before,” he said.

Witnessing thousands of penguins moult on an iceberg and watching blue whales feed on krill were two fond memories from his trips that came to mind.

Once he retires, Dr Harrowfield plans to enjoy the photos that captured the precious moments during his expeditions.