Lindis Pass to remain closed overnight

A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass after more than 1.5m of snow fell in the...
A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass after more than 1.5m of snow fell in the area. Photo: George Heard
A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass of more than a metre of snow.

A number of alpine passes in the South Island were closed on Monday morning after a dump of heavy snow over the weekend. However. all but Lindis Pass (State Highway 8) have now reopened to traffic.

An NZME photojournalist at the scene said 1.5m of snow had fallen on the summit of the Lindis Pass over the last few days.

A spokesperson for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the road will remain closed overnight with an update expected at 10am on Tuesday.

Crews are working on both sides using graders and tractors to clear the large amount of snow to allow the road to open.

The Milford Road (SH94) is also closed, as is the Buller Gorge, which will not open until at least tomorrow due to a slip.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says more snowfall is forecast to impact that portion of SH94 today.

Work was going on to clear the Lindis Pass of snow on Monday. Photo: George Heard
Work was going on to clear the Lindis Pass of snow on Monday. Photo: George Heard
The Ministry of Education says 12 schools across the country have closed as a result of the severe weather.

In Canterbury, Aoraki Mt Cook School has shut while seven in the Otago and Southland regions have also closed – they are Makarora School, Glenorchy School, Mt Aspiring College, Te Kur or Take Kārara, Wanaka Primary School, Holy Family School and Hāwea Flat School.

Meanwhile, weather warnings are still in place for parts of the South Island.

A severe thunderstorm watch was in force for Nelson, Buller, Westland and the Canterbury High Country until 4pm.

MetService is warning from western Tasman to the glaciers of Westland, there is a risk some thunderstorms may become severe until this afternoon.

The thunderstorms could bring large hail greater than 20mm in diameter as well as damaging winds gusting at more than 110kmh.

An orange heavy rain warning is in place for Westland south of Otira until noon and a strong wind warning has been issued for Marlborough, Westland, Buller and the Canterbury High Country.

It comes after snow blanketed parts of Central Otago yesterday, bringing joy to the region's ski fields, with Cardrona ski field opening early and other southern mountains set to follow suit in the coming days.

The wild winter weather created chaos across parts of Otago and Southland during the weekend, and forecasters are urging southerners to brace themselves for more of the same over the next few days.

Heavy rain, snow showers and winds gusting up to 100km/h kept emergency services busy in Dunedin with small landslips in Caversham; heavy flooding in Marne St, Andersons Bay; fencing and a fallen tree over roads; and ice on the Northern Motorway.

A police spokeswoman said it was a similar scene in Central Otago and the Lakes area.

Heavy rainfall yesterday caused flooding on State Highway 6 between Luggate and Cromwell as well as at the intersection of Frankton and Perkins Rds, in Queenstown.

Police were also alerted to several weather-related incidents across the region as cars struggled in slippery conditions, including a car which slid backwards on ice down Weaver St, Queenstown, about 3pm yesterday.

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