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Winter weather blocked roads in the North and South Islands today.

In the North Island, heavy snow caused police to close the Desert Road this morning, but it was reopened at 9.30am.

In the South Island, Dunedin police were kept busy by snow, rain and hail in and around the city.

Police said driving conditions in the city's hill suburbs were treacherous and urged motorists not to use the routes unless absolutey necessary.

Three Mile Hill Rd has been closed indefinitely, while the Northern Motorway is open to light vehicles only.

Senior Sergeant Mel Aitken said there had been a series of minor crashes throughout the morning.

She said she was fed up with some motorists ignoring barriers in the interests of fun, putting innocent people at risk.

Canterbury Regional Emergency Management office manager Jon Mitchell said strong winds and very cold weather were expected over the next couple of days and people needed to be ready.

"Heavy rains have already caused significant flooding in South Canterbury in the last few days and this weather system may cause more issues, he said.

Mr Mitchell said people should stock up on food, water, fuel, alternative lighting and other emergency supplies.

";We saw what happened in 2006 with damage to power lines and telecommunications.";

The Interisland ferries are sailing again, despite the heavy swells of up to seven metres in Cook Strait. Some ferries were delayed earlier this morning, disrupting the travel plans for hundreds of people.

The Kaitaki set sail from Wellington just before 10am. Bluebridge has cancelled two sailings this morning.

Wind gusts earlier brought down a tree, blocking State Highway 75 near Akaroa in Canterbury. The tree fell across the between Little River and the Hill Top.

- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB