Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Coldest weather of the year: White-out conditions

White-out conditions have closed the Desert Rd in the central North Island and eastern regions are experiencing some of the coldest weather of the year.

MetService has issued severe weather warnings for Hawkes Bay, Taihape and Wairarapa, with heavy rain warnings in place for eastern parts of the North Island.

From midday, 100-150mm of rain was expected, with 200-250mm about the Kaweka and northern Ruahine Ranges and the Hawkes Bay foothills west of Napier, the forecaster said.

WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said the eastern North Island could experience some of the coldest weather of the year.

"A low has stalled over the North Island and will remain there for the next few days," he said.

"It's going to bring rain into places that didn't really get it last week...

Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, all those areas are going to be stuck with this low for the next few days. It's going to be cold with rain."

Snow had closed the Desert Rd in the central North Island with snow to 700m and "white-out" conditions, Mr Duncan said.

"You've got a gusty wind blowing snow about and you can't see much.

"The way the temperatures are the snow could linger. This could be potentially good news for the ski fields in the North Island which have really missed out this winter."

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The coldest parts of the country were still in the South Island, around Canterbury and Otago.

Ice this morning was Dunedin motorists to slide off the roads and police advised everyone to take extra care.

Acting Senior Sergeant Damion Rangitutia said two cars had left the road in the Saddle Hill area in the city's west.

No one was hurt.

Patrolling police had reported ice on the roads on State Highway 1 at Green Island, on Kaikorai Valley Rd and on Highgate.

Roading contractors were this morning laying grit on icy spots to avoid further accidents.

"It's very slippery out there so we really advise people to take extra care this morning," Mr Rangitutia said.

- APNZ

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