You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
A blast of wintry weather has blanketed ski fields and a rock fall risk has closed main road linking Queenstown and Wanaka.
The cold snap comes as ex-tropical cyclone Gita hit parts of New Zealand, causing seven provinces to be placed under a state of emergency yesterday, about 100 tourists to be trapped and hundreds of residents evacuated from homes.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council announced on its Facebook page that the Crown Range Rd was closed due to extreme rock fall danger due to the heavy rain.
QLDC contractors have closed the road at the junction of Crown Range Road and State Highway 6 near Arrowtown (the bottom of the switchbacks leading up to Crown Terrace), and also near the junction of Cardrona Valley Road and Riverbank Road just south of Wanaka township.
Residents of Crown Terrace still have access as far as Eastbourne Road. Residents of Cardrona and visitors still have access from Wanaka as far as Cardrona township.
A slip on the Queenstown side of the Crown Range summit has damaged the road and a guardrail today, but traffic was not affected, the Queenstown Lakes District Council said.
Council contractors were at the site, which is below chain-fitting bay five.
The affected area had been coned off, and repairs would be carried out once the weather improved, a council spokesman said.
"Drivers are advised that further slips could occur given the forecast for persistent rain during the day.''
Snow had been forecast for the Crown Range Road yesterday and wet snow showers were expected to continue today until early afternoon.
Snow had also been falling at the Lindis Pass but this was forecast to turn back into rain showers today.
Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr said this morning there was about 10-15cm of snow at the base, with more higher up.
"It is still snowing and very cold," he said.
"It’s unusual to see snow in February! We think it bodes well for winter ahead.”
At The Remarkables, ski manager Ross Lawrence said an average of 50cm of snow was blanketing the mountain today.
"Remember it is only February so the sun will come out again soon!”
Cardrona got a 15cm dump over 20 hours and it was still snowing there this morning.