Give Us a Lift, Mate!

Grants Officer Monique Bolweg says, “Broken River is a not for profit ski club which is significantly suffering financially following the COVID lock downs and reduced visitor numbers. This has impacted our financial ability to continue to purchase all our big ticket items - the club has many expenses and we are no longer able to cover them all. We require these ropes to continue to operate safely as a ski field and continue to offer a unique mountain experience to the people of Canterbury and beyond.

Broken River Ski Club received a grant of $7,975 from NZCT for a new tow rope.

“Broken River Ski Club is one of New Zealand's iconic not-for-profit “club” ski fields, where skiing evolved, long before there were commercial ski areas in the South Island. Broken River began in the early 1950s with a passionate group of twelve founding members and grew to become a thriving ski club with over four hundred members by the 1970’s.

“Over the last seventy years, hard voluntary work by willing club members with a strong “can do“ attitude, has enabled the Club to build three accommodation lodges and two day lodges, as well as design and install five rope tows. More recently Club members designed and installed the Tyndall Tramway - New Zealand’s only alpine funicular rail which transports skiers from the car park to the ticket office and accommodation lodges.”

Riding a rope tow requires some effort but children as young as seven can master the art
Grants Officer Monique Bolweg

“One of the unique features of Club skiing is using rope tows to transport skiers and boarders up to the top of the slopes. Broken River has five high-speed rope tows which are powered by electric motors. Each rope tow consists of a long rope which is moved up the mountain on a series of pulleys on wooden standards. Each skier or snow boarder wears a belt with a “nutcracker” clip attached to it. The rider clamps the nutcracker onto the tow rope and holds it tight and is then able to be moved up the mountain by the tow. Riding a rope tow requires some effort but children as young as seven can master the art. At the top of the tow the rider releases their nutcracker and steps off the tow, ready to ski/board down the slopes.”

“This grant application was to purchase 2900m of rope to replace the tow ropes on our Access/Rugby tow and the Main tow. New ropes enable us to open this season and operate in a professional manner. New ropes will minimise operational interruptions due to broken ropes and re-splicing broken ropes. It will also reduce chances of injury should an old rope break.”

“Broken River Ski Club provides a unique experience for local skiers and those from further afield. The large open basin and surrounding chutes provide fun terrain and often collect good snow. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere attracts a wide range of people from young families to seniors. The day lodge on the field provides a great place to socialize and meet other skiers. Everyone is welcome to use the facilities, including the BBQ.”

Small Club fields like Broken River offer young New Zealanders a chance to ski with cheaper rates (free until 11 years old) and the chance to ski very varied terrain and gain skills they may not necessarily gain at commercial fields. Such skills include, learning about snow safety, skiing ungroomed snow and access to back-country conditions in a safer environment. We also run multi-day off piste and avalanche courses providing new skills for people wanting to improve their skiing and knowledge of the backcountry.”

“Broken River Ski Club prides itself in being friendly and welcoming. We’re a family friendly club where people of all ages can mix and socialize. There is a sense of teamwork as more experienced skiers / boarders nurture those new to the sport. There are opportunities for ski lessons and an excellent learner's rope tow that children as young as two can use. Our on-mountain accommodation enables families and others to stay on the mountain, providing a special and unique experience without the price tag of commercial fields.”

Located 1.5 hours drive west of Christchurch in the heart of the Southern Alps, Broken River Ski Club is run by club members who volunteer their time and expertise to keep the ski field open. Any profits go back into the Club to improve facilities and the experience for skier and snowboarders.

The ski field is open to the public as well as members and there is a loyal following of visitors from within Canterbury as well as further afield. Broken River Ski Club also has summer activities and accommodation on offer, as well as fabulous tramping and mountain-biking set in the beautiful surrounding beech forest.