The first recorded use of skis in New Zealand was in Central Otago in 1874; but it was not until 1893, when Dixon, Mannering, and Fyfe used them during their attempt on Mount Cook, that they were tried out for alpine work. The earliest effort to establish ski-ing as a sport took place in 1909 when Captain Head and Lawrence Earle introduced skis—the old Kiandra snowshoes – among the guides at Mount Cook. In 1913 some enthusiasts discussed the possibility of using skis on Mount Ruapehu; and on 27 July of that year W. P. Mead and B. C. Drake made their first trial run on the Tama slopes of the mountain. Their success encouraged them to form a club and on 31 July 1913 the Ruapehu Ski Club – the first of its kind in New Zealand—came into existence. Ski-ing went into recess during the First World War, but by 1922 the Ruapehu Ski Club had 100 members. In the following year the club built their first hut – Glacier Hut – and organised their first tournament.
The first runs on Mount Egmont took place in 1917, but it was not until 1930, when the Stratford Mountain Club became interested in the sport, that ski-ing developed there. Although ski tours were held in the Mount Cook region from 1926 onwards, the sport did not become established in the South Island until 1929, when the Canterbury Winter Sports Club was formed. In that year the Ruapehu Ski Club organised the first New Zealand Ski-ing Championships which took the form of a cross-country race.
On 5 September 1931 the Federated Mountain Clubs (F.M.C.) of New Zealand set up a subcommittee to consider the control of ski-ing on a national basis. This committee drafted the constitution and rules of the Ski Council, which were formally adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the F.M.C. in 1932. The Ski Council held its inaugural meeting in Wellington on 18 February 1933 and for the next 21 years continued to be the sport's governing body. As a result of new developments after the Second World War – the introduction of ski lifts, the appointment of overseas instructors, the construction of new mountain huts, and improved access roads – it appeared desirable that an independent national controlling body should be set up. Accordingly, a plan was submitted to the F.M.C. and was approved in May 1953 by a meeting of delegates from clubs affiliated to the Ski Council. It envisaged a new independent national organisation, to be known as the New Zealand Ski Association, having an executive council composed of three members elected from each island and one member nominated by the F.M.C. In addition, three of the Association's honorary officers, the secretary, the treasurer, and the editor of the New Zealand Ski Year Book, were to be ex-officio members. In May 1954 the constitution and rules of the new association were approved by a further meeting of delegates.
Besides the New Zealand Ski Association, there are four local associations which sponsor ski-ing in their respective districts. These are the Ruapehu Mountain Clubs Association, the Taranaki Associated Mountain Clubs, the Canterbury Ski Association, and the Southern Districts Ski Association.
Facilities, Clubs, Membership
The first chairlift in New Zealand was installed on Mount Ruapehu and was opened by Sir Edmund Hillary in August 1954. There are now five modern ski lifts as well as rope tows with a capacity of over 3,000 an hour. At Ruapehu also there are 35 club lodges and huts which provide accommodation for about 1,500 skiers. The largest of these is the Ruapehu Ski Club Lodge, which accommodates 65, while the club's hut caters for a further 32. With 1,250 members, the Ruapehu Ski Club is one of the largest sports clubs in New Zealand. Most South Island ski-ing areas (except Coronet Peak, Ohau, and Mount Cook) are run by private clubs. These have installed their own facilities, including rope tows. The largest ski field in the South Island is that at Coronet Peak, near Queenstown, where there are five tows having a total capacity of over 1,500 people per hour.
Of the 51 clubs affiliated to the New Zealand Ski Association, 35 (with over 5,000 members) are in the North Island and 16 (with over 3,000 members) are in the South Island. If non-club members are included, it is estimated that there are over 10,000 skiers in New Zealand.
Championships and International Competitions
The principal ski-racing events in New Zealand are the Island Championships and the National Championships. The men's ski-running championship trophy, which is held by the New Zealand men's champion, was presented by the Ruapehu Ski Club in 1932. In 1938 a women's ski-running championship trophy was presented by A. B. Edwardes, herself a former New Zealand women's champion. In addition to these championships, an inter-Dominion contest between Australia and New Zealand is run at two- or three-yearly intervals. The first New Zealand ski teams to compete in the Olympic Winter Games went to Oslo in 1952. In 1960 another New Zealand team competed in the Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley, U.S.A. Since then two New Zealand women skiers, P. Prain and C. Womersley, have competed in the world championships at Chamonix, France.
Table of New Zealand Champions
(Combined Ski-running Championships)
|1929||B. S. Barnes|
|1930||R. C. Murie|
|1931||R. C. Murie|
|1932||T. W. Mitchell (Australia)|
|1933||H. H. Elworthy||1933||A. B. Edwardes|
|1934||T. W. Mitchell (Australia)||1934||A. B. Edwardes|
|1935||A. G. Wigley||1935||A. B. Edwardes|
|1936||T. W. Mitchell (Australia)||1936||J. Murphy|
|1937||Not held||1937||Not held|
|1938||Not awarded||1938||Not awarded|
|1939||W. Frank||1939||J. Murphy|
|1940–45||Not held||1940–45||Not held|
|1946||P. F. Lawlor||1946||H. Alanson|
|1947||C. R. Ambury||1947||H. Alanson|
|1948||T. W. Mitchell||1948||C. Gilkison|
|1949||N. Kerr||1949||H. Alanson|
|1950||H. G. Lonsdale||1950||C. Gilkison|
|1951||Not held||1951||Not held|
|1952||T. K. McKeon||1952||A. Johnson|
|1953||S. Lonsdale||1953||A. Johnson|
|1954||W. F. I. Hunt||1954||J. Adams|
|1955||W. F. I. Hunt||1955||G. W. Fitzgerald|
|1956||W. F. I. Hunt||1956||W. Rose|
|1957||K. Burtscher.||1957||J. Huppert|
|Open, W. Angerer|
|1958||S. Chaffey||1958||C. Davey (Australia)|
|1959||W. F. I. Hunt||1959||P. Hall|
|1960||W. F. I. Hunt||1960||P. Prain|
|1961||A. Coberger||1961||P. Prain|
|1962||W. F. I. Hunt||1962||A. Latham|
|1963||P. Quinn||1963||P. Prain|
|1964||Not awarded||1964||Not awarded|
|1965||P. Goldstern||1965||K. Guy|