More than 300 stranded students, skiers and snowboarders on
Mt Hutt have been able to leave the mountain early today
after roads were cleared.
A cold snap yesterday brought high winds and low visibility
to the Canterbury ski field yesterday, closing the alpine
access road and stranding 316 people, including 260 pupils
from Mt Hutt College in Methven.
By 1.30am, the wind had calmed and works vehicles had cleared
the road of snow, allowing the people to safely leave, Radio
New Zealand reported.
Mount Hutt manager James McKenzie said buses transporting
Mount Hutt College students were followed by those in private
vehicles and ski field personnel.
The ski field would be closed today, he said.
Yesterday ski field staff set off explosives above the road
to prevent avalanches after 20cm of snow fell on the
Last night Mt Hutt College Year 12 student Markus Body said
everyone was relaxed and comfortable.
"[The weather] closed in late morning and we were told to get
on the buses so we could go home, but we missed the gap,
unfortunately," the 16-year-old said.
Parents vented their frustration on Facebook, calling the
road closure "predictable" and querying why the school went
ahead with the trip when bad weather was forecast.
MetService forecaster John Law said bad weather had been
forecast for the mountain.
"We've had the warning out since yesterday. We saw this cold
front coming up the country and bringing some snowfall to the
higher ground of Canterbury so it's going to plan so far," he
The weather would improve for most of the country today,
although it would still be cold in most places.
Mount Hutt College deputy principal Kaylib Gorrie defended
the decision to send the students on to the mountain.
The school's policy was that if the experts on Mt Hutt gave
the green light to open, the college followed through with
plans, he said.
- Additional reporting Ashburton Guardian