Winter chill starts to bite as first snowfalls of year arrive

17:00, May 16 2012
First snow for winter 2012
The first snows of winter on Kakapo Rd, Te Anau, this morning.
First snow for winter 2012
Kakapo Rd, Te Anau, looking towards the Murchinson mountains.
First snow for winter 2012
Queenstown residents woke this morning to a good coating of snow on the mountains.
First snow for winter 2012
The view from the Kakapo Rd home of Kaye Nairn, looking down on Te Anau under the mountains.
First snow for winter 2012
It was cold at Arthur's Pass this morning and Kate Buchanan says she specifically told her husband not to pick up any birds on his trip around the South Island.

Weather forecasters are predicting another cold snap for the south of the South Island, putting an end to the extended spell of settled autumn weather.

MetService forecaster Leigh Matheson said parts of Southland and Otago were in for a cold day tomorrow with more snow forecast to fall as low as 400 metres.

"It will be windy and bitterly cold."

Residents in many parts of Southland and Otago woke yesterday to thick snow, with the first serious snowfall of the year.

Most of the snow accumulated in the higher areas, but snow reports included a 3 centimetre fall near Mid Dome, 2cm at Winton, a light dusting at Ranfurly and snow as low as 600m around Queenstown.

Coronet Peak received 13cm overnight and snow flurries continued yesterday.


In Te Anau, residents had a chilly start to the day with the white powder covering mountains, trees and paddocks, and falling to road level in some places.

"It's all set to slowly melt away but there's another cold snap coming on Thursday night which will hang about through to Friday morning," Mr Matheson said.

"It could be very similar [to Wednesday night's cold front] and has the same target area, possibly reaching Dunedin."

Mr Matheson warned that tomorrow would be windy, wet and bitterly cold. However, the snow is good news for skiers.

Coronet Peak is scheduled to open on June 9 and the Remarkables on June 16. Cardrona Alpine Resort is scheduled to open on June 22 and Treble Cone on June 28.

The Southland Times