Wind and snow set to hit South Island

A serious chill is about to sweep over the South Island, bringing snow to sea level in parts of the Otago and Banks Peninsula.

Much of the South Island enjoyed fine weather this weekend after a snow storm brought some areas to a standstill last week, but the reprieve could be short-lived as another low sweeps across the South Island.

It would bring with it bitterly cold southwesterlies, which were expected to rise to gale force about exposed coastal hills from the Catlins to Otago Peninsula this morning, and about Banks Peninsula this afternoon, bringing snow to near sea level, MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said.

"The weather this week is going to pose a number of challenges for people.

"The southwest flow affecting New Zealand this week is likely to make its presence felt," he said.

Between 5-10cm of snow could accumulate down to about 300m and nearer sea level, passing showers would likely be sleety or snowy.

"While snow over the east and south of the South Island is not expected to be nearly as widespread or heavy as last week's, the combination of strong winds, low temperatures and showery conditions will feel seriously chilly," Mr Corbett said.

The Chatham Islands would bear the brunt of the cold southwesterlies over the next few days, with strong winds, squally thunderstorms, hail and sleet forecast to hit the island.

Towards the end of the week frosts were expected to become widespread, including Auckland.

While the South Island snow fall last week made for a bumper start to the season at ski fields down the south, ski fields in the North Island are still waiting for their first major snow fall.

Turoa ski field is due to open this Saturday, but the Mount Ruapehu website this weekend said there was zero snow coverage on the fields.

The Whakapapa ski field, which is set to open the following Saturday, also has zero snow coverage.

- APNZ

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