Porters 50th Birthday

2018 sees Porters celebrate our 50th birthday. Read on to find out how we started and how we want to involve you! 

How it all began

In October 1966, Paul Willis visited the un-named basin which we now know as Porters Ski Area. Shortly afterwards, Willis and Anton Coberger skied the entire basin and were so impressed that preliminary negotiations with the runholders of Brooksdale and Castle Hill sheep stations and the Crown Lands Dept began, with the view of establishing Canterbury’s first commercial ski field.

None of the alpine features were named apart from one peak known as Blue Hill

The following year observations of weather and snow conditions were made throughout the winter, which was a light snow year. By December 1967, the company was registered and thirty thousand shares at $1 each were offered, these being taken up by 24 individuals. The funds were used to ready the area for its first season in 1968. 

Porters opened in 1968 and the season ran from June 15th to November 3rd

The first stage of development was the construction of an 18ft wide access road to the snowline, which in those days was much lower than it is today. This was followed by the construction of a day lodge; two beginners rope tows both 300ft long and a main 2500ft long rope tow with a vertical rise of 700ft.  Four carparks were terraced into the valley floor and hillside, allowing parking for 400 cars. The top three carparks were 5 minutes’ walk from the lodge and tow. The fourth carpark was about 20 minutes’ walk away. The Ski Lodge provided a cafeteria, equipment hire and staff accommodation for three.

The directors of this first company, registered as Porter Heights Developments Ltd,  were PH Willis (Managing Director), RSA Chaffey, A Coberger and DR Preston. These founders, alongside other shareholders, were to put many hours of work and effort into developing the fledgeling ski field.

Photo above: early tows at Porters
Photo below: Porters ski school during the mid-2000s, featuring a young Jason Collins!

Celebrate with us

To commemorate our birthday, we'll be holding a special 50th birthday party at our annual Oktoberfest celebrations on 22nd September. 

We have released a limited number of tees featuring the first logo (previously called Porters Heights), the icon from the first letterhead and a grid of names going back over the last 50 years!

We'll also have giveaways and competitions running throughout the rest of winter... stay tuned! 

Photo below: Porters showing the old T-bar 1 during the 1970s

We want to hear from you!

We've scoured the archives and have started a gallery of the best images from the last 50 years. 

Do you have any photos from Porters over the last 50 years that you'd like to share with us? We'd love to see them! 

Please email your stories and photos to us at office@skiporters.co.nz. If you're happy for us to post on social media or display at our 50th birthday party, please include your name and a much info about the photo as you can.