Guests at the Oamaru Scott100 Business Breakfast held yesterday morning at the Kingsgate Brydone Hotel, were given an intimate insight into living and driving dog teams in Antarctica.
John Killingbeck, who lives in Cornwall, went to the Antarctica in 1961 as base leader at Deception Island in the South Shetlands and it was there that he had his initial association with the snow dogs which were stationed on the ice.
"This is where I learned to drive the snow dogs and my interest was so deep, I gave up my leadership at Deception Island and became a dog driver at Adelaide Island," he said.
"We had six teams of nine dogs, some older and some younger.
"Occasionally, we had a female whelp puppies and we would pop them into a box as we travelled and she would continue as one of the sled dogs, feeding her puppies along the trip."
With the introduction of the skidoos in 1962, the time had come for the dogs to be withdrawn under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty and it was Mr Killingback's role to organise their withdrawal from the ice.
"It was a sad day, a few tears were shed and they were flown out on a Dash 7 aircraft for the Falkland Islands, en route to Brize Norton in England," he said.
"A TriStar was waiting at Stanley in the Falklands and the dogs all had to be crated until we were airborne.
"This was a totally foreign thing for them and once we were airborne, they were freed from the crates and spent the journey rushing up and down inside the plane and 'chatting' with everyone."
The dogs eventually landed back in England and were then flown to Boston and on to James Bay where they were given to the Inuit people.
"The original dogs had come from the Inuit 50 years earlier, so it was fitting they went back to them," he said.
As part of his address to the Business Breakfast audience, Mr Killingbeck described the four types of snow dogs, what they ate whilst on the ice and the harness which was used when they hauled Nansen sleds.
"The dog harness was made out of lamp wick and each dog had their own with their name on it," he said.
"The material meant they could be adjusted as the dog lost weight or gained muscle and they could be cut in an emergency.
"Each dog probably covered about 10,000 miles in its lifetime, which would be about nine to nine-and-half years and they always lived outside on the ice."
As part of his breakfast address, Mr Killingback presented a number of items reminiscent of his days in the Antarctic.
Included in these was the carved sperm whale tooth, a set of boots made from reindeer hide, dog harness and a whistle and a bar of dog food.
Mr Killingbeck was accompanied at the Business Breakfast by his wife, actor Jenny Coverack who is presenting A Father for My Son - Kathleen Scott tonight and tomorrow night at the Oamaru Opera House Footlight Stage.