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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ellwood

A Very Special Cabin

On our walk last week we stumbled upon this quaint little cabin, perched all alone on the hill top. Sitting pretty on it's timber platform, freshly painted with chocolate brown trims and white railings, and a little stairway leading up to a roof-top platform. Who has put this little building here and why?! It turns out to be a slice of NZ history worth knowing about. The Cabin, or 'Bill's Cabin', was originally build in Norwich, England for the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-1913, and traveled all the way to Antarctica! Instead of being put up there, it then went to the port of Lyttelton, and was hauled up Clifton Tce in Sumner, and set up in the garden of expedition agent Joseph Kinsey. There on Kinsey Tce it stayed as a haven for Antarctic adventurers and their families, and successive owners, for more than a century. Some of its impressive inhabitants included: - Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his wife Kathleen who spent their last days together at Kinsey's property, before the explorer left on the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. - Scott's right-hand man Dr Edward Wilson (nicknamed 'Bill' the cabins namesake) and his wife Oriana. Awaiting his return, Oriana learnt of Wilson's death in the Evening Post, a year after his passing. - Russian dog driver Demetri Gerof, who shared the hut with Kinsey's gardener and his lead Siberian husky Osman (ending up in Wellington Zoo when Gerof returned to flight WW1). The Kinsey Tce home was purchased in by David and Valerie Crichton in 1974, who looked after Bill's Cabin for 40 years, before the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes red zoned the property. Although the house beside it was lost, the hut survived the carnage, and the couple went on a mission to save the historic building. With the help of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Christchurch City Council, and DoC (who put up the $100,000 required for its for its relocation and restoration), it now sits proudly on the hill above Boulder Bay. The Crichtons helped choose the new site for the cabin, where it was relocated this year, preserving its links with Sumner and Lyttelton. They now hope it will be used as a place of learning, a retreat for artists and heritage lovers, and a shelter where walkers like us can stop and eat lunch on the deck.

So there you have it, a beautiful little piece of NZ history, and the perfect place for us to pause, take a breath, and appreciate the splendid view.

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