Wintry weather heads north

The eastern North Island is next in line for winter's wrath. Photo supplied by lmccamish@xtra.co.nz
The eastern North Island is next in line for winter's wrath. Photo supplied by lmccamish@xtra.co.nz

The eastern North Island is next in the firing line for a bonechilling blast of winter.

A south-easterly air flow has been dragging cold air, showers - and in some cases snow - across parts of the country this week.

Parts of Southland, Otago and Canterbury had received snow, from dustings along populated areas along the South Island's east coast to larger dumpings further inland.

Lucky visitors to Hanmer Springs soaked in hot pools today as snow flakes fell around them, whiles some Dunedin kids enjoyed a day out of the classroom after schools were closed.

And it's not over yet.

Motorists were today urged to take care with snow warnings for Desert Rd, Napier-Taupo Rd and Rimutaka Hill Rd. South Island roads also affected included the Lindis, Lewis, Porters, Arthur's Passes and the highway between Dunedin to Waitati.

Philip Wallace captured this footage showing snow falling in Wellington at the Rimutaka summit.

And in parts of the South Island sub-zero temperatures, with tomorrow night likely to be the coldest so far this year in some parts.

Metservice meteorologist Lisa Murray said this afternoon Hawke's Bay would be the next to feel the effects of the wintry weather from tonight through until Sunday.

"There's heavy rain coming in for coastal areas. In the ranges that's going to fall as snow. Above 400 metres ... there could be 40 to 50 centimetres of snow."

Lesser falls were also likely down to 200m.

Rainfall accumulations could reach 150 to 200 millimetres from 9pm tonight until 6am Sunday.

Gumboot capital Taihape was likely to receive snow, and the Desert Rd is also under a snow warning. Up to 15cm is expected on the state highway through till Sunday.

Snowfalls were also expected to continue over the Kaikoura ranges into tomorrow. Above 400m there could be 20 to 30cm, with lesser amounts as low as 100m above sea level.

A watch is also in place for snowfalls in the southern Gisborne ranges and the Tararua District.

Christchurch has escaped the snow so far, protected by Banks Peninsula, and that was likely to continue, Murray said.

But it will be a cold night for some in the lower half of the South Island. Temperatures could fall as low as -11C in inland parts of Southland, Otago and Canterbury overnight Saturday, she said.

Queenstown has an overnight low forecast of -9C, with the alpine resort town's previous lowest temperature on record is -6.7 in 1995.

In the lower North Island gale winds in Cook Strait will make for a gusty day in Wellington.

The main message was for people to keep an eye on forecasts before heading out onto the roads, Murray said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency had up to date information.

Police have also warned motorists to take care on the road and keep up to date with any warnings.

"If you're out and about, drive to the conditions - or don't drive at all if you don't feel it's safe. Whatever you need to do isn't more important than your life," police said in a statement.

Those heading outdoors should also be careful, police said.

"Our Search and Rescue teams do a fantastic job but try not to put them to the test."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Sep 2016 09:52:52 Processing Time: 600ms