News and Events

Mt Hutt ‘all systems go’ for 40th season opening (13-Jun-13)
Immaculately groomed slopes and a genuinely warm welcome await avid skiers and snowboarders.....

Queenstown’s Coronet Peak ski area first to open in Australasia (10-Jun-13)
Queenstown’s Coronet Peak ski area today (June 8) celebrated in style as the first Australasian ski field to open for winter....

Coronet Peak first ski area in Australasia to open on Saturday (05-Jun-13)
Queenstown is officially open for winter as the 2013 season kicks off at Coronet Peak on Saturday (June 8).

Ski Areas Go Out With A Bang! (27-Sep-12)
Season extension and half price passes

Browns Ski Shop Celebrates Being 30 Years Young (23-Jun-10)

New Zealand, June 23, 2010 - One of Queenstown's most long standing

One of Queenstown’s most long-standing and successful businesses is celebrating 30 years in the snow industry.

In 1980, national ski racers Nigel and Derek Brown opened a ski shop in their home town of Queenstown, a successful family partnership that continued until 1997 when long-term Browns’ employees Kris Vermeir and Paul ‘Haggis’ Vaitkus joined Derek in part ownership.

The following year, Haggis and Kris bought the remaining 50% from Derek and the duo has successfully directed the steady expansion of the Browns Ski Shop brand ever since.

Now Browns ski shop has three outlets around New Zealand – a retail store and a rental and tuning business in Queenstown, and another retail outlet in Newmarket, Auckland.

From 1980 when Derek and Nigel had just 60 pairs of skis for rent and operated out the back of their mother Betty’s Antiques Store, the business has grown into one which serves the needs of thousands of customers each season.

But for Kris Vermeir, success is not judged by figures alone.

“Success is the fact that we are still around, which not many businesses can say, particularly in Queenstown.

“We employ nearly 30 people locally so they’re dependent on us for their living, and we take that very seriously.”

“It’s also the fact that we still have real passion for the snow, that we’re still keen to help people get up on the slopes and have a fantastic time in the mountains.”

That passion for snow was what originally brought Doug and Betty Brown to Queenstown. The Browns’ affinity for skiing began in the late 1950s when they traveled regularly from Invercargill to Queenstown to ski at Coronet Peak. Doug began skiing in the late 1940s when Coronet Peak sported just a rope tow and club hut.

Doug taught his four sons- Nigel, Derek, Julian and Maurice - to ski on Coronet Peak on a little pair of skis fashioned from an old set of wooden adult skis. The same skis are still on display in Browns ski shop.

Derek and Nigel shone on the New Zealand ski racing scene as members of the National team competing on the World Cup circuit in Europe.

In those early days of running the ski shop, the pull of the mountain on a good snow day was always strong – they would open the doors at seven in the morning and close three hours later so they could hit the slopes before re-opening mid-afternoon.

Bavarian skiing personality Günter Raedler persuaded Browns to import Erbacher skis, and by 1987 Browns was ready to move into the retail scene.  Unparalleled knowledge of the world’s best ski gear and fanatical attention to comfort and function meant the store quickly gained a reputation for up-to-the-minute clothing and as the best bootfitters in town.

Youngest brother Julian joined the business helping out part-time while he was at high school, then began ski-racing as a full-time occupation and continued working at Browns whenever possible.

The company was also ahead of the competition in technology – in the late1980s when computer systems were becoming an essential part of running a successful business, the brothers scoured the world for a good rental system, couldn’t find one and developed their own, which they then sold to other ski hire businesses in New Zealand.

Looking back, Mr Vermeir said where Browns is at today was the result of everybody’s contribution over those 30 years.

“We owe it to the hundreds of staff who have worked with us and the hundreds of thousands of customers who’ve come through the doors, as well as the support we’ve had from Queenstown locals and snowsports enthusiasts from across Southland, Otago and more latterly in Auckland.

“We’re not corporate and we remember our roots, knowing we couldn’t have done it without Queenstown. We will always remember that.  We owe Queenstown, not the other way around.”

Mr Vermeir said he looked forward to the next 30 years of Browns.

“Hopefully in 30 years time one of my kids will be running Browns, talking to the children and grandchildren of our loyal supporters.”

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