Midsummer snow brings tourists out to play

Dodging snowballs on the Crown Range yesterday are Rachel Shirley (left) and her son Ethan Shirley (3), of Lake Hawea, and Justine Weatherall, of Dunedin, with her son Thomas Weatherall (3). Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dodging snowballs on the Crown Range yesterday are Rachel Shirley (left) and her son Ethan Shirley (3), of Lake Hawea, and Justine Weatherall, of Dunedin, with her son Thomas Weatherall (3). Photo by Linda Robertson.
Snow stopped tourists in their tracks on the Crown Range between Wanaka and Queenstown yesterday morning.

There was no problem with the road itself, but hundreds of tourists abandoned their cars and camper vans briefly, to make snowmen and take part in snowball fights.

The car park at the top of the road was almost full at times.

Among those most enthusiastic about the snow were members of the Crisp family, from Perth, Western Australia, where temperatures have been around 45degC recently.

Snow also blanketed hills surrounding Queenstown. Most of it melted before midday, but not before tourists rushed to take summer snow pictures.

The midsummer snowfall was regarded as a welcome change after days of rain in the district.

Police reported no major problems with roads. Detective Warren Duncan, in charge of the Waitaki Lakes area for police, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday eight camper vans stopped short of the summit of the Lindis Pass on Wednesday night because of concerns about the snowy road.

Det Duncan said the van drivers' decisions to stop were wise and although police were advised, no action was required.

The code amber alert for the Young Valley in the Mt Aspiring National Park was lifted yesterday morning.

There had been concerns heavy rain could causea breach in the slip that created a lake in the valleysix years ago, endangering trampers in the valley.

Visitor information ranger at Wanaka Simon Mazzotti said trampers should continue to be aware rivers and streams in the national park could still be swollen.