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.”