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Te Anau residents have woken to a bitterly cold -4degC and snow is coating a number of Canterbury alpine passes and townships including Methven this morning.
MetService is warning snow is expected to fall to low levels across many parts of the island and even into the central volcanic region of the North Island just days after the country was basking in sun rays, soaking up the summery 20-plus degree warmth.
And the wintry spell is not likely to let up for a few days, with the forecaster warning the coldest temperatures are reserved for tomorrow morning with many centres barely getting out of single digits the entire day.
This morning there was snow on either side of Three Mile Hill Rd and the Northern Motorway in Dunedin. Flagstaff also saw a dusting of snow overnight.
MetService has issued a number of road snow warnings across mountain roads including Porters, Lewis and Arthur's Pass.
The central North Island is also expected to see snow with motorists using the Napier-Taupō Rd warned to expect a dusting near the summit today, with around a centimetre of snow covering the ground.
While the snow was expected to pass through rapidly, it was expected to fall to fairly low levels across the South Island, said the forecaster.
Snow was forecast down to 400m in many areas, affecting some higher roads and passes.
Some in the south are reporting snow has fallen down to 200m on the Canterbury plains this morning, saying it is not only heavy but low.
MetService forecasters said a shift in wind direction across the country was responsible for the sharp temperature drop for the next few days.
Mount Hutt College in Methven today said while a light dusting of snow had fallen overnight the school was still open and all buses were running as usual today.
But it is tomorrow the bite will really be felt keenly across the country with cold air plunging daytime temperatures up to seven degrees cooler everywhere.
Christchurch will reach a chilly 10degC and Ashburton and even icier -3degC.
Hamilton will be waking to a near-freezing 2degC and Wellington will reach a maximum of 10degC today.