Alexander von Tunzelmann

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Alexander Francis Henry von Tunzelmann
Born(1877-06-15)15 June 1877
OccupationCrew member of whaling ship

Alexander Francis Henry von Tunzelmann (15 June 1877 – 19 September 1957), a New Zealand crew member of the Norwegian whaling ship Antarctic was part of the first group known with certainty to have set foot on the mainland[1] of Antarctica—at Cape Adare on 24 January 1895. It is possible that the Anglo-American sealer John Davis achieved this feat 74 years earlier, on 7 February 1821, but his journal entry is open to interpretation.

Family background[edit]

Alexander's ancestors were the von Tunzelmann family who migrated from Prussia to Estonia where they were members of the Baltic German Ritterschaft or nobility. Two brothers and a sister from the family settled in New Zealand.

He was born in Nelson and died in Invercargill. He had five children: Ronald, Isobel, John, Francis, and Gilbert. His father was Johannes Emanuel von Tunzelmann, later commonly known as John (1839–1898), a younger brother to Nicholas von Tunzelmann (1828–1900).[2]

Circumstances of the landing[edit]

The voyage of the whaling ship Antarctic, captained by Leonard Kristensen and financed by Henrik Johan Bull, put a boat ashore on 24 January 1895 in the vicinity of Cape Adare, at the northern extremity of the Victoria Land. The boat held six men, including Kristensen, Bull, Carsten Borchgrevink , and the 17-year-old von Tunzelmann. All of them set foot on land within moments of each other, so credit is sometimes given, or claimed for each.[1][3][4][5]


In 1984, the place von Tunzelmann landed was officially named Von Tunzelmann Point by the New Zealand Antarctic Place Names Committee.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "". Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  2. ^ "Johannes Emanuel von Tunzelmann". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "". Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "First landing on Antarctica". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2021.