Snow flurries across parts of New Zealand cancel flights and close highways

Snow on State Highway 94, between Mossburn and Te Anau, made driving conditions difficult on Saturday morning.
BARRY HARCOURT/SUPPLIED

Snow on State Highway 94, between Mossburn and Te Anau, made driving conditions difficult on Saturday morning.

Forecasters labelled it "the first proper cold outbreak of the winter".

The deep south and Central Plateau were hit hardest on Saturday as the first Antarctic blast of the year cancelled flights from Queenstown Airport and closed two state highways.

By Saturday night, a freezing southerly flow sat over the country, but the worst of the snow had passed.

The Orongorongos, near Wellington, got a decent dusting of snow.
JONATHAN DALLIMORE/SUPPLIED

The Orongorongos, near Wellington, got a decent dusting of snow.

Flights in and out of Queenstown Airport were delayed and cancelled on Saturday morning due to snow on the runway, before resuming at 11.30am. 

READ MORE:
First Antarctic blast of the year grabs hold
Winter-proofing the inland road

State Highway 87, from Sutton to Outram, was closed, with snow warnings placed on other roads across the region.

These horses, and an accompanying goat, wrapped up warm in Te Anau on Saturday morning.
BARRY HARCOURT/SUPPLIED

These horses, and an accompanying goat, wrapped up warm in Te Anau on Saturday morning.

Queenstown woke to 1C on Saturday morning, but the coldest part of the country was a spot known as Swampy Summit in the hills of Otago, with -3C.

Dunedinites in some hill suburbs also woke to a light dusting of snow, following a storm overnight, before snow began to fall heavily at 8am.

About 7.5cm of snow fell at Mid Dome in Southland.

Issy Cleaver took the opportunity to test out her new skis.
MARK CLEAVER/SUPPLIED

Issy Cleaver took the opportunity to test out her new skis.

In the North Island, snow sprinkled the hills surrounding Wellington and continued to fall on the Central Plateau, including Mt Ruapehu, on Saturday evening.

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The Desert Rd was closed, with several vehicles reportedly becoming stuck in snowy conditions. Contractors were called in to clear the road as a snow warning remained active on Saturday evening.

"The majority of the significant snow in the South Island has eased away and over the next 24 to 48 hours you'll just see an improving trend, with the showers easing and the wind easing.

Saturday was not the best day for drying washing at Jack's Point.
SUPPLIED

Saturday was not the best day for drying washing at Jack's Point.

"It does mean there's going to be clear skies, so we expect very cold temperatures overnight, with some possible severe frosts [on Sunday morning]," MetService meteorologist Sarah Haddon said.

South Islanders could expect clear skies, but freezing temperatures by Sunday night, she said.

"For the South Island there will still just be a few showers for the far south and kind of around Banks Peninsula

Some, including 13-month-old Maya, made the most of the wintry weather.
TANYA DENNIS/SUPPLIED

Some, including 13-month-old Maya, made the most of the wintry weather.

"But by the end of the day they should be gone ... and pretty much the whole of the South Island will be fine."

On Sunday, scattered showers were expected in Wairarapa, parts of the Wellington region, coastal areas of Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, Manawatu and Taihape.

"Most of the rest of the North Island should be relatively fine, but again it's still an improving trend tomorrow. So where there are showers they should slowly be getting less and less and clearing into Monday," Haddon said.

 - Stuff

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