The first recorded use of skis in New Zealand was in Central Otago in 1874; but it was not until 1893, when Dixon, Mannering, and Fyfe used them during their attempt on Mount Cook, that they were tried out for alpine work. The earliest effort to establish ski-ing as a sport took place in 1909 when Captain Head and Lawrence Earle introduced skis—the old Kiandra snowshoes – among the guides at Mount Cook. In 1913 some enthusiasts discussed the possibility of using skis on Mount Ruapehu; and on 27 July of that year W. P. Mead and B. C. Drake made their first trial run on the Tama slopes of the mountain. Their success encouraged them to form a club and on 31 July 1913 the Ruapehu Ski Club – the first of its kind in New Zealand—came into existence. Ski-ing went into recess during the First World War, but by 1922 the Ruapehu Ski Club had 100 members. In the following year the club built their first hut – Glacier Hut – and organised their first tournament.
The first runs on Mount Egmont took place in 1917, but it was not until 1930, when the Stratford Mountain Club became interested in the sport, that ski-ing developed there. Although ski tours were held in the Mount Cook region from 1926 onwards, the sport did not become established in the South Island until 1929, when the Canterbury Winter Sports Club was formed. In that year the Ruapehu Ski Club organised the first New Zealand Ski-ing Championships which took the form of a cross-country race.