Heavy rain has caused the closure of two major road passes as
wintry weather hammers the South Island - and heavy snow is
forecast for Sunday.
State Highway 6 between Haast and Makarora is closed after
more than 120mm of rain fell in the Haast Pass area
overnight, the New Zealand Transport Agency advises.
Further north, SH73, from Arthur's Pass to Otira, has been
closed by a massive slip and is expected to remain closed for
two to three days.
NZTA Senior Network Manager Mark Pinner said 'a significant
amount of rock and material' had come down at the Diana Falls
slip site on SH6, and over a large section of SH73, in both
cases as as a result of heavy rain during the last 24 hours.
NZTA needed to ensure the Diana Falls slip face had
stabilised before contractors could begin to clear the
highway, while the amount of material on SH73 could result in
a closure of two or three days.
The weather is expected to bite even harder in the South over
the weekend as a showery southerly brings snow and sleet to
parts of Otago.
The MetService is forecasting a southwest change bringing
snow showers to Dunedin and Queenstown on Sunday afternoon.
Emergency Management Southland has warned of heavy snow in
the Catlins and on the Milford Road on Sunday.
Spokesman Craig Sinclair said people should prepare for
winter driving conditions and farmers to consider moving
stock to sheltered areas.
"There's possibly going to be a lot of snow so people may
want to think about whether they need to travel or not,
particularly on Sunday," he said.