The painting depicts the scene of Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition, which was otherwise known as the Nimrod Expedition departing Lyttelton on regatta day, 1st January 1908.
The tug Lyttelton is steaming ahead of Nimrod and escorting her down to Godley Heads. The Nimrod departed at 1600 hrs on a fine sunny day with a moderate north westerly wind which provided idyllic conditions for this festive occasion. Thousands of well wishers lined up around Lyttelton harbour and the shore to witness this historic occasion. A flotilla of boats followed her out through the harbour.