Cold snap set to welcome spring

06:30, Aug 30 2011

Spring may be arriving in two days, but the winter season is not over yet.

A cold snap is set to hit New Zealand on Thursday, bringing freezing temperatures to much of the country.

The MetService's Bob McDavitt said the cold front will creep up the South Island, bringing a "short but sharp return to wintry weather with it".

It is forecast to cover the North Island on Friday.

"Some snow is likely to near sea level over Southland and Otago during Thursday, and at least moderate falls to low levels are expected in Canterbury and on the Kaikoura Coast overnight."

MetService forecaster Hordur Thordarson could not say how much snow was forecast to fall over Canterbury, but said it was enough to cause some disruption.


Snow was forecast to fall down to between 300 - 500m in the lower North Island on Friday, including Rimutaka Hill and the Desert Road.

Temperatures in the South Island back country could fall as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius, Thordarson said.

"It's going to be cold. And it slowly begins to warm up again late Friday."

McDavitt said the cold outbreak was not going to be as severe as the polar blast that gripped the country two weeks ago, but it was coming further into the lambing season.

"The snow is more likely to be wet than dry, and this, combined with the wind-chill is stressful to newborn livestock."

The major winter storm that hit the country earlier this month caused chaos by shutting schools, closing roads and airports, and cutting power to thousands of people.

It brought snow to places that normally didn't get it, including Wellington and Auckland, and set new freezing temperature records.