Summer just a memory as temperatures plunge

The country is waking up to one of the coldest days of the year so far, with severe frosts expected in inland regions of the South Island, as well as the North Island's Central Plateau.

Temperatures were plummeting in Taranaki last night and the mountain had an impressive mantle of snow.

The forecast for today is fine, with south-westerly winds easing.

But in Central Otago, Cromwell would experience a minimum -12 degrees Celsius, Alexandra -10C, and Queenstown -9C.

Even Auckland would not escape Jack Frost's chilly fingers, with a forecast minimum of 2C which only happens on average four times a year.

Another system was on its way with more cold air behind it tomorrow, forecasters said.

Road and power problems remain in some areas.

Last evening, snow was falling on the Rimutaka Hill Rd, Wairarapa, New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Anthony Frith said.

While the snowfall was not heavy enough to close the roads, the NZTA was warning motorists to take extreme care or make alternative arrangements, he said.

He also advised drivers across the region to check the NZTA's website for the latest road conditions before setting off.

The wintry blast hit the the rest of the country with the first snowfall on the Desert Road causing the postponement of the annual Kaimanawa Horse muster yesterday.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses co-ordinator Simone Frewin said they hoped the muster, organised by the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Army, would take place today.

Raincoats might be out again on Thursday when a new front and southerly winds were expected.

The cold will linger, but the wind and rain were due to clear by the start of the long weekend. Fairfax NZ

Taranaki Daily News