Highways closed as heavy weather hits

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.

Snow forecast 

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.


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