Rimutaka Hill Road reopens

TOM HUNT
Last updated 13:13 22/07/2014

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The Rimutaka Hill Road has reopened after being closed by snow.

NZTA closed the road this morning and had hoped to open in it earlier this morning.

But continuing snow falls have kept the stretch of State Highway 2, between Hutt Valley and Wairarapa, closed.

An NZTA spokesman said the  road was opened again shortly after midday but warned the road would still be icy.

He thanked drivers for their patience and contractors who had cleared the road.

''We know this has been a bit of a pain in the backside.''

Meanwhile, the State Highway 1 Desert Rd through the Central Plateau of the North Island opened again this morning but still had wintry conditions, NZTA warned.

It had closed due to heavy snow last night.

MetService forecaster John Law said snow was still falling on the ranges to the east of Wellington, including the Rimutaka hill at midday, when the temperature was still to reach above freezing level.

Snow falls were expected to continue till about 2pm.The snow was caused by a slow-moving area of Antarctic air travelling north over the country.

According to MetService figures, Wellington stayed well above freezing level overnight. Lower Hutt dropped to 4.1C, Kelburn to 5.3C, and Wellington Airport to 5.8C.

Elsewhere in the lower North Island though, temperatures dropped far lower.

Taupo dropped to -2.8C, Waiouru to -2.5C, New Plymouth to -0.5C, Palmerston North to -2.3C, Masterton to 0.6C, Levin to 2.8C, the Rimutaka summit to -0.8C, and the Desert Rd to -3.9C.

A police spokesman said there were a couple of minor crashes this morning in the Taranaki area. Black ice was thought to be the cause.

Brian Russell, from Fulton Hogan, said crews were this morning clearing the road using graders, ploughs, and four-wheel-drives with brooms.

The snow was 5-6cm deep on the Rimutaka Hill Rd, he said.

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