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A light dusting of snow in parts of the South may be just a taste of things to come later today.
Some Otago residents woke to snow on the hills this morning, and while it may have been a dusting, MetService says heavy falls are expected across much of the south, including Dunedin, over the next two days.
Queenstown Lakes District Council said the Crown Range had a light dusting of snow overnight. The road was open but motorists were asked to carry chains or take an alternative highway.
There are reports of snow in parts of the Maniototo. Some roads have been gritted, and Danseys Pass is open to 4wd vehicles only.
The NZ Transport Agency has issued snow warnings for State Highway 85, Ranfurly-Omakau, and says closures owing to snow are likely on SH94, Te Anau-Milford.
Marilyn Swinburn, from Naseby, said there it snowed reasonably well last night and snow was lying "a few inches thick" on the ground last night, but most of it was gone this morning. It has not been snowing there today so far.
There is also snow on the hills around the Fruitlands area between Alexandra and Roxburgh.
- Check road conditions here
Further north, fierce gales are battering eastern regions and monster 6m swells will pound the country's entire western coastline today. The MetService said the biggest waves could easily double to 12m in height and be incredibly powerful.
The Interislander ferry is warning passengers sailings across Cook Strait may be cancelled this weekend because of the predicted giant waves.
Firefighters say they have been busy overnight securing roofs and clearing trees and powerlines felled by the destructive gales from Canterbury to Wairarapa.
A Fire Service spokesman said there had been about half a dozen callouts across the Canterbury region between 7.30pm to 1am as the winds picked up.
In the North Island trees and powerlines came down across roads east of Woodville.
But the worst weather is reserved for the next 24 hours, and snowfall warnings have been issued for all South Island alpine passes and Dunedin's Northern Motorway.
The MetService said the worst weather was reserved for today as bitterly cold air directly from Antarctica swept up the country.