Snow spotted in central Wellington

Last updated 09:53 25/07/2011
Kaitoke Regional Park
PHIL REID/Dominion Post Zoom
WHITE OUT: Holiday makers enjoy the snow at the Kaitoke Regional Park.
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Snow in the Rimutaka Ranges

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Snow falls have been reported across Wellington today and freezing conditions are expected to continue in the coming days.

The Metservices predicts heavy frosts will affect much of New Zealand after the worst of the weather clears this evening.

The mercury continues to plunge with the current temperature in Wellington 4.2 degrees, but feels like -2 degrees.

Did you get a photo of snow in Wellington? Send your pics to web@dompost.co.nz

Related story: Wintry blast hits South Island

Snow was reportedly falling in Wellington's CBD earlier today. In a tweet, the MetService said snow was spotted falling on the Terrace.

WeatherWatch reported that isolated snow showers been seen falling to sea level in Wellington, but it had not settled on the ground.

About 10cm of snow dropped on the Rimutaka Hills this morning and another 3 or 4cm was expected during the day. Snow was reported to be falling on the Kapiti Coast and in Upper Hutt, Kelburn, Brooklyn, Wainui, Seaview, Masterton and Martinborough.

MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said this was the largest dump of snow seen on hills around Wellington for about 15 years.

Snow continues to fall on the Rimutaka Hill Road, which is unlikely to re-open tonight, the New Zealand Transport Agency said.

Motorists were advised to go North on SH3 via the Manawatu Gorge, or use the train.

Drivers should also be on the lookout for ice and drive to the conditions.

State Highway 2 from Nuhaka to Gisborne and State Highway 85 from Palmerston to Kyeburn are also closed.

The Taihape Road between Hawke's Bay and Taihape was closed at 6pm last night. Hastings District Council said it would remain closed until further notice.

See readers' photos of snow around Wellington

Bruce Wills, who farms on the Napier-Taupo Road, said he was "surrounded in white" and stuck indoors this morning.

The head of Federated Farmers' 1100ha farm sits at an altitude of 300-400metres and was covered in about 10cm of snow this morning.

"The whole place is covered in white. I won't be going anywhere today," Mr Wills said.

He said the storm was well forecast and farmers would have taken all steps to feed stock and move them to more sheltered paddocks.

"We do expect cold weather in the depths of winter so I can't imagine there are too many concerns among farming folk," Mr Wills said.

Sheep hadn't been shorn for many months and had a good coat of wool on them, he said.

Whiteman's Valley resident Casey McNeil woke this morning to hills blanketed with snow. It was the most he had seen in 20 years living in the valley, he said.

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"The cows didn't know what to do, they're wandering around trying to scratch for the grass."

It was still snowing now, and it was bitterly cold, he said. "Your hands are freezing in minutes."

Despite the cold his young children had been jumping on the bed with excitement, eager to get up the hill to play in the powder.

In Taupo, snow blanketed Acacia Bay, Mt Tauhara and Broadlands Road.

Acacia Bay resident Malcolm Brodie said it was the first time in 17 years snow had fallen in the area.

Families around Taupo were building snowmen and playing with sleds.

MetService issued a heavy-snow warning for the central North Island high country from Taupo to Taihape, for Hawke's Bay and Gisborne, and for Fiordland, Southland, eastern Otago, Canterbury, and Kaikoura.

A watch for heavy snow was also in place for the Taranaki, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Nelson regions.

Snow showers were even likely to fall on the usually sunny ranges of Northland and the Coromandel Peninsula.

MetService forecaster Oliver Druce said the southerly winds, originating in Antarctica, were moving at high speeds that made them even colder.

"This is probably the coldest one we've had for a few years; it's right up there," he said.

However, the weather was expected to clear tomorrow and remain fine for the remainder of the week.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN WELLINGTON

Today

Max: 7C

Min: 2C

Sleety showers with strong, very cold southerlies.

Tomorrow

Max: 11C

Min: 5C

Early showers clearing, then fine.

Northwesterlies later.

Wednesday

Max: 13C

Min: 6C

Fine with fresh northwesterlies.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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