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!”
Continue reading in our May/June 2023 issue of Classic Driver Magazine - Out Now!