established in 1957

Excerpt from Much Ado by Rosemary Ensor.jpg

The inception of the Amuri Ski Club (Hanmer Springs Ski Area) was due as much to founding members as it was to the New Zealand Electricity Department who, in 1956 put in a road from Hanmer to Saint Arnaud to service a power line.  Without this road the area was inaccessible and without it local residents may not have been interested. 

In October 1956 Hugh Grigg, Hawdon Davidson and Dick Hiatt walked into the area in search of a suitable location for a ski area to develop.   The basin in which the ski area currently lies was deemed to be the best location for snow, terrain and building an access road.

In September 1957 a group of 20 residents eager to see the ski area established tramped in to investigate the area.  On reaching the top of Mt. Saint Patrick (top of ski area) they cracked open a bottle of Bordeaux Blanc which later gave its name to one of the ski area runs – Bordeaux Basin.

The clubs initial investment was generated from its 200 founding members purchasing 1800 £1 debentures.  This enabled an access road to be bulldozed from the Electricity board’s road to the basin in the summer of 1958.   That autumn construction began on a rope tow and original day shelter.   Unfortunately the season was very lean for snow and no skiing was possible until 1959 when there was too much snow and access was difficult.

In 1960 a bunk hut was constructed alongside the shelter and in 1962 a rope tow was installed running from the top of the main tow along the ridge to just below Mt St Patrick summit but has since been removed.  

Through the 1970s it was a very active period for the club.  A new learners area and access road were constructed.    A new day hut was built and the accommodation lodge was completely rebuilt.   A new rope tow was installed into Bordeaux Basin.   The opening of the new Shirtfront Tow in 1977 was the last time many of the pioneers of the club gathered together, celebrations

 One of the club’s biggest developments occurred in 1981 with the construction of the 1km long Poma lift running up Bordeaux Basin.  The lift was a second hand purchase from Whakapapa and transported down and installed almost entirely by volunteers in one summer. All holes for the towers were dug by hand – no diggers, gelignite or machines on the mountain.   A design engineer from the Poma Lift Company in France visited Amuri in 1982 and is quoted as saying, “What an amazing job a pack of amateurs have done.”

"Somewhere up country in a land of rock and scrub, 
They formed an institution called Amuri Ski-ing Club, 
They were rough and ready skiers from the country, far and wide, 
And the skis have not been moulded that Amuri hasn't tried. 
They tumbled off occasionally with injuries quite sore, 
The first to fracture "tib" and "fib" was one called Denis Moore. 

Before ski-ing started they build themselves a road. 
(Could have put it off a year because it never snowed.).
The higher up the mountain, the shorter were the leads, 
That lead from charge to battery, and greater were the speeds 
Of drillers talking cover and running for their life, 
As rocks fell all around them - causing awful strife. 
The one who really loved it all, he thought it was such fun.... 
Until he found a jackhammer that shortened his left thumb. 

A mighty ball they planned to have, it really was no joke
When everything was ready, it all went up in smoke! 
Both then and ever after, when things went bad, or well, 
The Woodbank doors were opened and gloom just went to hell. 

They dug 'em deep and dug 'em wide, and then the public filled em. 
Hawdy said "no bother chaps, two plugs and we'll rebuild them." 
"No sooner said that done", said he, "I'll shake this mountain rotten" 
With one tremendous blast the site was covered in gershplotten! 

One day, two happy blasters could not remove a pole, 
"Half a plug will do it," said the cautious soul. 
"Never use half plugs," said t'other with a grin, 
"Half a case is better" as he pushed the charges in. 
The pole it sure flew skyward and landed with a thump
That broke it clean in half, they got another from the dump. 

The stories here are endless, and some have us in tears. 
One night at Mt Olympus, Hugh started breaking chairs. 
We cannot mention everyone who's helped to make it run
But sure as snow is cold and white we've had a lot of fun."

By "Bilge"
(who has been revealed to be our patron; Paul Bush!)
Published in 'Much Ado" Hanmer Springs 1883-1983 by Rosemary Ensor

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