Blizzard buzzes through South Island

21:18, Jul 21 2014
snow summit rd
WINTER WONDERLAND: Light snow blankets Summit Rd and Sugar Loaf on the Port Hills of Christchurch after a night of winter weather.

Drivers are urged to take care on highways after a night of snowfall and icy conditions.

South Island highways are open, but drivers should take extra care in the lower half of the island owing to snow and ice, the NZ Transport Agency said.

Affected routes included State Highways 94, 85, 87, 1, 6, and 8.

In Canterbury, Banks Peninsula bore the brunt of the snow with blizzard-like conditions last night.

MetService had issued a heavy snow warning for the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula, forecasting up to 20cm of snow by this morning down to 300m and lesser amounts to 200m. It had also warned of "significant" snowfall to 300m in coastal Canterbury and smaller accumulations by 9am down to near sea level, including central Christchurch.



Akaroa resident Pam Richardson said the winds were "horrendous", but they were only intermittent.

"It was a wild and wicked night," she said.

"There was wind and hail and there's still some hail on the road this morning."

She said there was a light covering of snow to low levels, but it was not as bad as predicted.

She hoped everyone would take care on the roads as the winds may have caused trees to fall.

NZTA advised drivers using the Lindis, Porters and Lewis passes to take care in the icy conditions.

Severe weather forecaster Leigh Matheson said the temperature in Canterbury would rise a little this morning, turning remaining snow or sleet showers to rain showers that would carry on through to tomorrow.

Matheson said parts of eastern Otago and Southland were reminded that winter was far from over, with snow overnight prompting farmers to distribute extra feed for stock.

Those areas could expect more snow into the morning. Strong southerlies along with the cold temperatures would make the wind feel bitterly cold and farmers were advised that stock may need shelter.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has reported high risk of black ice on Queenstown roads this morning. Chains must be carried on the Crown Range.

The Press