List of New Zealand Ski Lifts

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List of all New Zealand ski lifts to operate

This page is an attempt to document all ski lifts to operate in New Zealand. Most lifts have been confined to ski fields/mountains ("resorts" in other countries), of which around 26 have been established in New Zealand during the history of skiing in this country. The only ski fields with lifts to be established and then close down are Mt Robert near St Arnaud and Erewhon in the Rangitata Valley. All other mountains are still operational.

There were many single ski lifts outside of established areas operating in New Zealand. All have now closed. These were usually rope tows - New Zealand was (and still is) the centre of the universe for all things rope tow related.

This list is done by resort or mountain, heading from north to south.

Whakapapa(Mt Ruapehu)

Turoa(Mt Ruapehu)

Tukino(Mt Ruapehu)

Two rope tows

Manganui(Mt Taranaki)

Currently - 2 nutcracker rope tows, 1 T-bar, 1 learners rope tow.

The original (lower rope tow) was installed in 1946, the first ski tow in New Zealand (predating Coronet Peak's tow by a few days). This was replaced by the current T Bar in 1974.

The top rope tow has a formidable reputation, rising some 300 metres. This was installed in 1952 and upgraded extensively in the 1980s (with a replacement electric drive instead of the old diesel engine). An extension to this tow (running off the top bullwheel) can be installed providing further vertical late in the season.

The lower T bar can also carry a few chairs if necessary, something that the Stratford Mountain Club have indicated that they may install, making for an interesting dual lift.

There is a small (single loop, no intermediate supports) rope tow between the T bar and the bottom station of the top tow, installed in the 1980s and electrically operated.

There is a small learners rope tow to the left of the T bar, this was installed in 1964 and upgraded in the 1970s.

A tow was installed in the Ngarara valley to the right of the field in 1983, and this operated til 1986.

Other North Island ski lifts

The Rangiwahia Ski Club installed a rope tow in the 1930s operating off a motorbike engine on the Whanahuia Range in the Ruahines in the Central North Island. The ski club built a hut as well, however this has been replaced by several facilities on the same site since then. Walking access only. Some relics are still there. Closing date???

Mt Robert (St Arnaud)

Now closed. 3 rope tows originally.

Rainbow (St Arnaud)

Historically:

1 double chairlift (now at Ohau)


Currently:

1 T-bar 1 poma 1 learners lift 1 rope tow

Amuri / Hanmer Springs (Hanmer Springs)

Currently 1 poma (the longest in New Zealand), and 1 rope tow. 1 learners tow too.

Mt Lyford (Kaikoura)

Temple Basin (Arthurs Pass)

3 rope tows.

Craigieburn Valley (Arthurs Pass)

3 rope tows currently. Formerly had a learners tow near the base of the middle tow, which resulted in three tows running from one tow shed / engine. This was removed in the 1990s.

In 1952 a T bar was installed (NZs first) running from the bottom of Craigieburn to Siberia Basin, except this never received much usage. A poma was installed on Hamilton Peak in 1994, but this did not receive much use either. The concrete base of this is still sitting in Siberia Basin.

Broken River (Arthurs Pass)

Historically:

3 rope tows. 1 access tow, 1 learners tow


Currently:

  • The access tow, from above the accommodation buildings to the field itself. Above the tow shed, which is at the height of Palmer Lodge (the fields day lodge), this tow is known as the Rugby tow, from the former Rugby car engine that used to power it (which is now hanging off the counterweight at the end of the main tow).
  • The main tow
  • The ridge tow
  • Two learners / access tows near Palmer lodge.

All tows are electrically driven.

Mt Cheeseman (Arthurs Pass)

2 T bars.

Porters (Arthurs Pass)

3 T bars

Mt Olympus (Rakaia Valley)

4 rope tows

Mt Hutt (Methven)

Began in late 1970s with two rope tows

Historically

  • The top T bars - 2 T bars installed side by side, above the top of the old quad. One T bar went halfway to the summit, the second T bar went most of the way to the summit, finishing slightly short of the current six-seater. These were diesel powered.


Currently (2010):

  • The Towers Triple chair with mid-station (one of only two left in operation in New Zealand). Fixed grip.
  • The Quad (Formerly known as the Exhibition Quad which has been resited - it was formerly the main lift operating from the base buildings of the field, it is now to the right of the base buildings)
  • The Summit Six seater, operating from the base buildings to near the summit of Mt Hutt at 2086 metres)

All of these are electrically powered.

Erewhon (Rangitata Valley)

Historically:

Four rope tows

  • Learners tow
  • Access tow
  • Main tow
  • Senior tow


Currently:

All rope tows were removed when the skifield (and its club) closed in the late 1980s. The lodge is now used as the base of a cat-skiing operation.

Fox Peak (Farlie)

Currently using 4 rope tows

  • Skid row learners tow
  • Meadow tow
  • Shirt front tow
  • Apex tow

All of these tows run off diesel engines.

Mt Dobson (Farlie)

Round Hill (Tekapo)

Ohau (Ohau)

Awakino (Kurow)

Currently running 3 rope tows - 2 nutcracker and one learners tow.

The first lift was installed in the 1950s, running on a Wisconsin engine/ tractor unit transferred from the old Danseys Pass tow. This engine is now sitting below the top towshed, as with most things at Awakino, the history is all around you.

The main tow direction was altered in the 1960s and then extended several times to its present location. It runs off a Ford 3000 tractor, installed within a railway container. The main tow is 800 metres long, rising from about 1450 metres to 1735 metres.

The top tow was installed in the late 1980s and currently runs on a petrol powered engine, the only such tow in New Zealand to still operate with petrol. The ridge tow is about 700 metres long, and rises from 1735 metres to about 1880 metres, close to the summit of the range at this point.

The learners tow is small, currently petrol powered, and sits adjacent to the top huts. There are the remains of various other tows on the field, most notably the access tow below the top buildings that operated in the early 1990s before snow became unreliable and people obtained 4WDs, and an old learners tow just below the top buildings.

A tow was installed in the 1960s in the remote Hut Creek catchment behind the St Marys range. The old Case tractor drive unit for this sits forlornly in the snow just off the main ridge, but has not operated for over 50 years.

Treble Cone (Wanaka)

Historically:

  • Main double (see below), installed in the early 1980s.
  • Saddle T Bar (removed in 2006?). Replaced by the Summit Quad.
  • Saddle Double - diesel fixed grip, moved to Saddle Basin in 1995? after it was replaced on its old alignment by the current six-seater. Replaced in 2006? by the Summit Quad.
  • Main T Bar (next to the six seater), removed in 1990s?

Currently:

  • Six seater express - detachable six seater, installed in 196?
  • Summit Quad - fixed grip quad from the old base site of the saddle basin double to near Tim's table, above the top of the old T-bar.
  • Learners lifts

Cardrona (Wanaka)

Snow Farm / Snow Park (Wanaka)

Coronet Peak (Queenstown)

Historically:

  • A "double" rope tow (one which has two ropes working simultaneously but in opposite directions so that passengers can ride up on either side). Snowboarders would have loved this, if those things were invented back then. Installed in 1947 and designed by William (Bill) Hamilton, the inventor of the jet boat, who also perfected the nutcracker device that is still used today.
  • The Happy Valley Poma - the original learners lift, running diagonally right from the base buildings towards the Lunch Rocks. From memory (1992) it had three large spans and two jumping off points. Removed in 1994
  • The Shirtfront Double chair - installed in 1952 as one of the first chairlifts installed in New Zealand. This was the main lift of the field until 1994, whereupon it was then moved to replace the Happy Valley poma on a new alignment as the Meadows double chair. It lasted here until the start of 2010. Rumour has it that they didn't need to slow it down for suitability as a learners lift. Converted to electric at some stage in the 1960s.

It ran from the base buildings to the platform below the 'coronet' of the peak. A mid-station was sited just right of the bend in the M1 run, and was in use until it was removed.

The chairs on the lift could also carry sleds for the "cresta run" sled track at Coronet peak. This operated until the early 1990s.

  • The Greengates triple. My favourite old lift. Installed in the 1970s on the western part of the field. This had real character, with the entire drive unit (first diesel, then electric) sitting on rollers within a frame mounted to a dynamic cable counterweight, presumably to take up the slack from the several large spans that the lift went through. It had a mid-station a short distance up the line. Removed in 2007 and replaced with a six seater Greengates express.
  • The Blue Gums poma, a small learners poma below the Rocky Gully T Bar. Removed in the 1990s.

Currently:

  • The Coronet Express detachable quad - installed in 1994
  • Greengates Express six seater - installed in 2007
  • Meadows Quad - installed in 2010 to replace the Meadows double
  • Rocky Gully T-bar, in Rocky gully on the right of the field, installed in the 1970s.

The Remarkables (Queenstown)

All original lifts installed in the early 1980s when the field was developed.

Historically:

  • The Alta Double (now replaced by a quad), sometime in the late 1990s

Currently:

  • The Alta Quad - fixed grip, installed in the late 1990s.
  • Sugar Bowl Quad - fixed grip, installed in the 1980s, used to have a mid-station (removed when?)
  • Shadow Basin Quad, still with a mid-station (one of only two left in New Zealand).
  • Learners lifts

Invincible (Glenorchy)

1 rope tow

Other South Island lifts

  • Danseys Pass

The original ski tow of the Waitaki Ski Club, installed shortly after World War II, and then moved to Awakino on the northern part of the St Marys Range. This tow motor now sits below the ridge tow atAwakino

  • Kelly Range

This tow used to operate on the eastern slopes of the range up to Kelly Saddle until the late 1940s. Operated by the West Coast Alpine Club.

  • Kakanui Mountains, above the Pigroot

Operated until the early 1990s, installed in the late 1970s, possibly using the drive gear from the old tow at Leaning Lodge in the Rock and Pillars.

  • Rock and Pillars

A small tow on the summit plateau near big hut (running until the 1950s by the Otago Ski Club) A larger tow at Leaning Lodge, installed in the 1960s and operating until an avalanche in the early 1970s. Parts of this rope tow, including two towers, are still in place below Leaning Lodge Hut.

  • Garston

Installed by the Southland Ski Club and operated until the early 1950s when the club shifted to Coronet Peak.