This week in Mountain Scene history


1975 Governor-General Sir Denis Blundell awards the George Medal to Arrow­town helicopter pilot Don Spary for outstanding bravery. In hazardous flying conditions, Spary rescued injured climbers trapped on a rock ledge in the Southern Alps. 

1985 Ministry of Trans­port marine investigator Captain Steve Ponsford urgently flies to Queens­town after a near-fatal rafting accident on the Shotover River. “Apparently I was given up for dead – no heartbeat, no breathing, no nothing,” recovering United States tour guide Tony Kang tells Mountain Scene. 

1995 Opposition from Air New Zealand stalls the introduction of a $6 domestic departure tax at Queenstown Airport. Air NZ is “strongly opposed to departure taxes for domestic travel at NZ airports”, the national carrier’s general manager Grant Lilly says. The domestic levy was quietly shelved. Ironically, Lilly is a recent addition to the resort airport’s board. 

2001 Queenstown Medical Centre moves into its new premises in Isle Street. The $3 million purpose-built building is developed by Ngai Tahu and later onsold to Irish billionaire Eamon Cleary, a major local landlord who died two months ago. 

2005 Subbies fear a Black Christmas from the crash of Southern Lakes Construction, the main contractor on a 21-unit Hallenstein Street development of controversial McEwan Group. Southern Lakes Construction director Dean Chisholm is understood to have left for Australia.