Timaru District Council today offered free motel accommodation to South Canterbury people who have been without electricity 11 days after a snow storm.

Timaru Mayor Janie Annear announced the offer this morning.

She said: "We understand you will be getting to the end of your patience now after 11 days without power and the council would like to offer you a chance for a break by putting you up in motels at our expense, or providing any other help we can, such as generators."

A fresh cold blast today brought more snow to Canterbury and spread to the central North Island and Hawkes Bay.

The Desert Road and State Highway 35 between Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast have been closed in the North Island, while SH8 between Omarama and Tarras and SH87 between Mosgiel and Middlemarch are closed due to snow.

The Automobile Association is recommending people use alternative routes.

The Rimutaka Hill Road between Upper Hutt and Featherston was closed overnight, due to snow.

Eight cars were pulled off the Rimutaka Hill Road last night, National Radio reported.

Dunedin roads have iced over, and residents have been warned only to drive their cars if they absolutely have to, avoiding hill roads if they can.

Roads were closed in Christchurch and on Banks Peninsula, where snow was falling steadily this morning.

Christchurch City Council advised that most of the Summit Rd around the city's Port Hills was closed from Mt Pleasant suburb to Gebbies Pass.

Canterbury Civil Defence emergency management planner Jon Mitchell said: "If people have any concerns at all about being in a situation that's not sustainable -- if they're still without electricity or their water supply has frozen -- they should contact their local authorities and ask for assistance.

"Arrangements will be made to help them."

Defence Force personnel had "raised their level of readiness" to respond to the latest icy blast if required.

A tree downed by winds has blocked a major arterial route in central Wellington.

The Karori tunnel was closed but National Radio reported that Wellington City Council staff had managed to clear it.

There has also been surface flooding at McKays Crossing on the Kapiti Coast.

It was reported this morning that eight trucks were trapped on the Desert Road overnight.

Snow closed SH1 between Taihape and Waiouru, cutting off the central North Island. SH49 between Waiouru and Ohakune was also closed.

MetService said today that heavy snow had eased over the Kaikoura and Rimutuka Ranges and the situation was improving over the Tararua Ranges.

However, Hawkes Bay was expected to face heavy rain today with
heavy snow in the hills and ranges. These conditions should spread
north into Gisborne on Friday and gradually ease in Hawkes Bay.

- NZPA, HERALD ONLINE STAFF