BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM

BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM

BACK IN THE DAY WITH LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM 2000 1342 The Flyer Magazine

A glimpse at skiing in the old days…
with Ray Clarkson

When Ray Clarkson passed away in October 2016 he left his lifelong collection of skis to the Lakes District Museum. Ray was born in Cromwell in 1929, was a teacher and Director of Education in Invercargill, and lived for many decades in Queenstown. He was a very keen skier all of his life and his skis show the advances in technology since the early days of the sport in the Wakatipu.

Ray began skiing in 1947 at Rock & Pillar and Garston. In the days before lifts every run was earned by climbing up the slopes on foot. Even so, he was very quickly hooked.

“On Mondays at work, I was always recovering from skiing. On Tuesday and Wednesday I did some work and on Thursday and Friday I was planning for the next weekend… it was addictive.”

Ray enjoyed the social life at the Southland Ski Club hut at Coronet Peak during his August holidays from university.

“You arrived at the huts on Friday night and everyone would arrive and shout and yell and it was quite social. Saturday was the night. You visited other huts and one night I remember taking the piano from the Southland hut to the Otago hut. We didn’t bother going down to Queenstown, all the action was up on the mountain in the huts.”

Ray recalls the ‘terrible fuss’ at the Southland Ski Club when the price of tickets for the rope tow at Coronet Peak went up from 5/- (5 shillings) to 7/6 (7 shillings and sixpence).

“People said they would boycott it. Of course they boycotted it for half an hour…”

He remembers the challenges of skiers getting used to the rope tow when it was first installed.

“If you fell off you had to go to the back of the queue… people were left lying beside the tow… there were a few grim accidents like people putting their hands through pulleys and terrible scalpings.”

Meanwhile, the museum is open daily from 10am until 3pm and is expected to be popular with school holiday visitors again this month. The Arrowtown Art Union Exhibition is running in the museum gallery this month. More than 40 local artists reveal more than 110 works, including everything from paintings and print-making to sculptures. The exhibition, which started on June 12 closes on July 31. Curated by the Arrowtown Creative Arts Society, the Arrowtown Art Union Exhibition will help aid the museum’s earthquake strengthening project.

Lakes District Museum Logo

Jardine and the local Scout group at Coronet Peak, 1943

The first Hamilton tow – Coronet Peak, 1947.

Happy Valley Chalet – Coronet Peak, 1953.

Skiing at Coronet Peak, late 1960’s.
All photos: courtesy of Lakes District Museum.