Auckland teenagers set to kayak around Antarctic Peninsula

Paddling kayaks around icebergs isn't your typical school trip, but two Auckland teenagers are about to do just that.

They're heading to Antarctica with an Olympian as a guide, following in the footsteps of some of history's legendary polar explorers - Sir Edmund Hillary, Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

Mele Fetu'u and Lana Kiddie-Vai, both 16, have been picked for a 10-day trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.

"I'm excited but scared at the same time," Lana told Newshub, while Mele added it was something she'd "never even thought of" before.

The two teenagers will be led by an explorer of a different kind: Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson.

Dawson told Newshub that kayaking in Antarctica will be a bit of a change from the Olympics.

"You're going to have icebergs, you're going to have amazing scenery - whales, seals, penguins - you name it, it's going to be there."

Olympian Mike Dawson, Mele Fetu'u and Lana Kiddie-Vai.
Olympian Mike Dawson, Mele Fetu'u and Lana Kiddie-Vai. Photo credit: Newshub.

The expedition is the latest organised by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

"We're looking to conserve, share and encourage this spirit of exploration - the sense of curiosity, the sense of discovery and of challenging yourself," executive director Nigel Watson told Newshub.

In the 1950s, Sir Edmund Hillary sat in his study and planned not only his summit of Mt Everest, but also his Antarctic expedition. Now nearly 70 years on, students gather there to plan their own.

That planning includes some expert kayaking training - and there's a clear winner in what they're most excited to see.

"Penguins! That's all I've been thinking about the whole time," Lana said.

They'll be joined by five other students and will head off in March 2019.