Snow disrupts transport in South

The Crown Range Road linking Queenstown and Wanaka. Photo: Christine O'Conno
The Crown Range Road linking Queenstown and Wanaka. Photo: Christine O'Conno

Winter is making its presence felt in the South, with snow affecting major roads and disrupting travel plans.

Severe weather conditions have been forecast in some parts of the country, with high winds and heavy snowfall warnings in place, including Fiordland and Southland the MetService says. 

Drivers are warned to take care, especially on alpine roads, and travellers advised to check flights to and from Queenstown.

Air New Zealand flight NZ5403 from Wellington to Queenstown had to be diverted to Christchurch on Saturday morning due to bad weather, spokeswoman Melody Brass said. "As a result NZ5404 from Queenstown to Wellington has been cancelled. Customers booked to travel on these services will be re-accommodated on alternative services."

Ms Brass advised travellers to check online for further updates.

The Crown Range Road linking Queenstown and Wanaka has been closed from Eastburn Gates to Cardrona Village for Saturday night. It will not be reopened before 7am on Sunday morning, when the situation will be reassed. It was closed earlier on Saturday, but reopened about 2.30pm.

The New Zealand Transport Agency issued a warning, saying there was black ice on State Highway 6 through the Kawarau Gorge and urged caution on other routes including Malaghans Road and Kelvin Heights.   

A police spokesperson confirmed no traffic incidents had been reported due to the weather conditions. 

All alpine roads were expected to be affected by snow until Sunday afternoon.

The Milford Road on SH94 (Milford Sound to Te Anau) remains closed. Snow was expected about the tunnel with showers lowering to 200m on Saturday night. Up to 45cm of snow could accumulate about the tunnel until Sunday afternoon, with snow flurries as low as Te Anau.

• Check NZTA road conditions

The Haast Pass Road on State Highway 6  was closed for part of Saturday morning, and the NZTA warned to watch out for ice. More snow showers were forecast for Sunday.  

Chains were essential on SH8 Tarras to Omarama (Lindis Pass). Up to 20cm of snow was expected on the Lewis and Arthur's passes until Sunday. 

Snow was falling in Maniototo area on Saturday afternoon and caution was advised for motorists, particularly on bridge decks, hill sections and shaded areas. Grit trucks and snow ploughs were working to ease conditions.

The Danseys Pass Road was now closed (from the Reserve to the Waitaki Boundary).

Show showers were possible on the Dunedin to Waitati highway on Sunday morning.   

Chilly weekend for most

In Dunedin it'll be cold and showery on Saturday, with snow forecast for hill areas late tonight and a high of 10degCelsius. Sunday was likely to bring hail and snow in the morning, with a high of just 8C, MetService says.

Queenstown could expect to shiver in snow flurries, with highs of 8C and 6C forecast.

In Wanaka, snow flurries were also likely on Saturday with a high of 7C. Sunday would be fine but chilly on 5C.

Sleety showers were forecast for Invercargill on Saturday and Sunday, with highs of 8C and 7C, and a chance of heavy thunder.

Severe weather for North Island

A cold front was moving quickly over the northern part of New Zealand, bringing with it westerly gales to parts of the North Island.

Heavy rain was expected over the Tararua Range and heavy snowfall for Taumarunui and Taihape. 

Snow showers were expected from Saturday night on the Desert Road and the Napier-Taupo Road.



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