Cool start for resort as snow blankets hills

Snow on the hills is making for a cool day in Queenstown today. Photo James Beech
Snow on the hills is making for a cool day in Queenstown today. Photo James Beech

Queenstown awoke to a wintry blast today with the heaviest snowfall seen on mountain peaks so far this year.

Snow turned Coronet Peak and the Remarkables bases white, more than a month before the ski areas open, boding well for the 2014 season.

The Crown Range road was affected by snow and chains were required this morning while contractors cleared the road, the Queenstown Lakes District Council said.

A Christchurch departure was cancelled and a Wellington departure was delayed by more than two hours, while Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch arrivals were delayed up to 30 minutes at Queenstown Airport.

Rainswept southwesterly wind is keeping the mercury from climbing higher than 9degC downtown and around the Wakatipu.

A brief respite of sunshine and clouds are forecast for the rest of the week, before cloud and rain on the weekend.