Gone too soon


A creative, fun-loving Queenstowner, best known for his pioneering video and TV productions, died suddenly this week on his wedding anniversary.

Devoted husband and family man Pete Townsend was also a successful accommodation operator in more recent years.

Universally known as ‘P.T.’, he moved from Australia in the early ’80s and worked as a ski instructor on Coronet Peak for two seasons.

“He fell in love with Queenstown and said from the start, this was his home forever,” friend Wayne Cafe says.

In the mid-’80s, he found local fame doing skits for the legendary show, Ski Whizz, which drew hundreds of people every Monday night to the former Albert’s nightclub.

He ended up helping to present and produce the show, which became a promotional tool for Queenstown, and partnered Andrew Hillman in long-running company, Action Productions.

Pete in the ’80s

The pair also started up Queenstown TV info station, Channel 5, which Cafe says was way ahead of its time.

“As well as promoting local tourism, it had lots of feature items that were relevant to the season and highly entertaining.”

Townsend also helped start QT Magazine as an offshoot of Channel 5.

Broadcaster Leanne Malcolm says in 1999 she, husband Phil Smith and media personality Jeremy Wells came down to Queenstown and linked up with Townsend to produce 13 episodes of skiing/snowboarding show, Snow-busters, for Sky TV.

“Pete was the producer and fronted pieces as well – he was really good in front of the camera,” Malcolm says.

“He was handsome and always looked 20 years younger than his age. When Vuarnez sunglasses were really big, Pete was the king of the retro-ski look.”

Cafe praises his friend as a wonderful husband to Michelle Robertson, whom he met 30 years ago, and devoted father to Jamie, Jordy and Kobe.

Only last month, he accompanied Kobe to a karate training camp in Japan that was marred by the death of much-loved local instructor, Chris McGregor.

Besides raising a family, Michelle and Pete also leased Arrowtown’s Settlers Motel then, more recently, ran Queenstown’s Waterfront and Alpine Village apartments.

Cafe sums up Pete, who was in his early 60s, as “incredibly creative, quick-witted, incredibly funny, great company and always upbeat”.

Broadcaster Wells adds: “He was a good man, and too young to not be with us.”