Black ice creates havoc
Hazardous road conditions wreaked havoc with drivers during the morning commute in the Nelson region yesterday.
Motorists were being warned of black ice, State Highway 60 at Takaka Hill was closed due to snow, and police fielded numerous calls as roads turned into skating rinks.
Sergeant Dave Prentice, of Nelson said matters got progressively worse, with 10 accidents reported this morning.
"I have never come across it like this. This is certainly the worst I have seen. For about the last 20 minutes, I have heard a new one coming in every couple of minutes," he said.
"There's at least one overturned vehicle, possibly two, but I don't know of any injuries. It seems to be predominantly people sliding off the road."
Mr Prentice said danger spots included Brightwater, Wakefield and Appleby, and extreme caution was being advised on the Whangamoa Saddle.
"It's obviously where people are coming into black ice and hitting it at speed, so they need to be very, very careful and drive very slowly," he said.
The Hope Saddle was closed shortly after 10am because of snow.
Two cars were involved in an accident on the Blenheim side of the Whangamoa Saddle, and black ice caused problems on the Appleby Bridge and the overbridge at Three Brothers Corner.
A driver lost control on the Wakefield-Kohatu highway, another slid off the road at Spring Grove, and a further crash was reported in Hope.
The Press delivery driver Tony Gillan's Toyota Hiace van is "totalled" after it slid off the Three Brothers Corner overbridge about 6.30am yesterday.
Mr Gillan was heading towards Motueka and lost control of his van after it hit black ice near the top of the bridge.
The van slid off the left-hand side of the bridge and flipped on to its roof, but Mr Gillan escaped without injury.
"I have been doing this job for four years, and I have driven in icy conditions, snow and fog. I have never experienced anything like that. It took me by surprise. Thank God for seatbelts," he said.
NZ Transport Agency regional operations manager Mark Owen said black ice was widespread throughout the region, and was particularly bad on bridges over rivers.
"We've had rain, and that's frozen, and now we have got ice in a number of areas. We have got trucks out there putting grit down, but people just need to take extra care."
Sergeant Rob Crawford, of Motueka, said police were concerned about the state of the Motueka River Bridge after hearing reports of black ice, but no accidents were reported despite the hazardous conditions.
Constable Jonathan Davies, of Takaka, said no ice-related incidents had been reported in Golden Bay.
Rainbow Ski Area spokesman Hamish Neill said there had been more snow overnight, the snow depth was now 20 to 60 centimetres and "it's looking fantastic". The snow and weather conditions were expected to be perfect for Saturday's opening, and fine weather with morning frosts on Sunday.
- © Fairfax NZ News