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Bruce and his wife were chilling out for a spell in that wonderful hideaway haven of Hanmer Springs when they spotted a couple of yellow Porsches, a Boxster, a Carrera, and a gun metal grey Cayenne in a nearby hotel car park.

Words and Photos: BRUCE BATTEN

Shortly after we’d spotted those Porsches, we spied a couple of Macans and another Boxster or two at the front of the hotel. In all we counted 12 Porsches of various models and vintages. It had to be a Porsche Club get-together or a dealer convention, and so it proved, although not as we imagined.

The drivers turned out to be ‘the Porsche girls’ (self-named) from all over the South Island who’d become a little tired of just tagging along with their male partners and husbands to their Porsche Club of New Zealand events - gatherings to which the men always insist on driving, and driving too fast, and often in convoy as if on parade. The programmes for these ‘boys’ events – a public display of their cars, then a fleet drive away for lunch, maybe a gymkhana, a quiz, and incessant talk about cars and their specifications – weren’t really catering for their companions.

The underlying disquiet came to a head when around 50 Porsches descended on Nelson in February 2021 for a SWOTS event (Southern Weekend of the Summer). Some of the attending ‘girls’ drifted away to go shopping or walking, and a group went off to Cable Bay Adventure Park to ride the Skywire. That was so much fun that one of them, Helen Carter from Timaru, floated the idea of the girls having their own weekend away some time.

This would be no rebellious affair. Helen sought approval from the Porsche Club’s southern regional committee. They were immediately supportive, and 14 Porsche girls gathered on their own for the first time in May 2021 - Hanmer Springs their destination, lunching at Leithfield, north of Christchurch, en route.

It was apparent to Helen from that first day that this would be a successful and enduring experience – purely from the tenor of conversation and laughter that flowed over lunch. Since then, there’ve been three further girls’ weekends – in Akaroa, November 2021, when a highlight was a guided tour through the 6-star Gardens Trust property (the Giant’s House), and then the one featured here in Hanmer last May, followed by 14 Porsches cruising into Oamaru in September where the town’s restaurants and noted local cheeses were sampled. Next stop will be Kaikoura in May and Helen is expecting numbers to easily reach her cut-off point for attendees.


Between 12 and 16 ‘members’ have attended each time, not always the same ones as other commitments prevent or allow the time to take part. Helen has found 16 to be a convenient number for booking accommodation and for dining. Restaurants prefer offering a set menu to larger groups than this, but these girls favour their ‘a la carte’! Any ‘Southern Porsche girl’ is invited to register, a limit of 20 is set for each event and it’s first-in-first-accepted. So far, they’ve come from as far afield as Dunedin and Nelson, with the majority from around Christchurch.

The girls’ ages range from mid-40s to mid-70s, but the cars are a bit younger, the newest being a 2022 Macan GTS, just two days old when Channon Ross arrived in it from Christchurch. It replaced the Macan GTS she already ‘totally adored’ but, unbeknown to her, her partner had had it on order for 9 months before a surprise reveal just before the Hanmer Springs gathering.

At the other end of the ownership scale, Marianne Wright of Christchurch has had her 1988 ‘whale tail’ 911 for 22 years. It was the car she had always wanted and spied one at Continental Motors in Auckland as she and her husband did the rounds of car sales yards they always did when up north. Although a little long in the tooth now, it won’t be leaving the family any time soon. Marianne loves it and ‘it’s not for sale’.

The stories of how each member came to be a ‘Porsche girl’ varies as widely as the models they cherish. Christine Clark of Mapua had missed out on getting one seven years ago and had to wait until recently for the right car at the right price to come up again – a 2003 911 Turbo in speed yellow. Meanwhile Heather Anderson of West Melton declares that she just happened to make a frivolous comment about liking a yellow Cayman and, next thing, one turned up – her husband becoming joint owner. Ali Muckle of Mapua admits she’s attending in her husband’s car, a silver 2005 997, after he handed her the keys and trustingly said “just drive it like you stole it!”

Chief organiser Helen Carter is ideally suited to keeping the girls on the road and growing their numbers. She and her husband Roger (who has a 2003 911 Carrera 4S manual) have a career-spanning background in running a real estate and property management business in Timaru. Nowadays, while Roger continues working as a valuer, Helen has volunteered her highly honed organisational skills to the boards of several charitable trusts. Organising comes naturally to her and it’s to the Porsche girls’ benefit that she’s long been an admirer of the German marque. She traces this back to 1996 on seeing touring car and rally legend Trevor Crowe’s partner, Colleen Bardsley, drive out of his Subaru dealership in Christchurch in a yellow Boxster with the hood down. From then on it had to be a Boxster for her. She’s now on her third – her ‘forever’ black 2013 Boxster S 981 fully-spec’d with sports exhaust.

So, if they all love their cars so much, why don’t they spend their time together talking about them?
“We just love to drive them,” they all say. They’re not here to show them off to the public, go on planned runs, compare specs, nose around under each other’s bonnets, polish their egos. They’re here for the food, the wine, the shopping, walking, spa-pampering and most of all the laughs and great company. Every one of them cited having great fun and making great new friends as the primary reason they’ll be continuing to meet up whenever they can.

We can vouch for the fact that driving about and making a show wasn’t on the agenda for May’s gathering in Hanmer. Throughout the weekend, not one of the 12 Porsches moved from the hotel car park, nor were the girls seen lingering around them (that was only our envious selves!) They did line up for a brief formal photo shoot on the Sunday morning immediately before dispersing, but they became far more relaxed when they rearranged their fleet in a random rabble around the car park thereafter. They’re not ones for taking themselves too seriously. They’re just rolling back the years and, in some cases, their hoods!

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