Hundreds of travellers evacuated from snow-stranded vehicles overnight will spend another night in emergency shelters, while some central North Island roads remain closed.

The army was called in to evacuate 56 people from State Highway 1 to Waiouru military camp, where they spent the night.

Major Monique Brown said those motorists were ferried back to their vehicles and given a brief chance to leave Waiouru from 12.30pm, after SH1 was cleared.

The road had since been closed again after bad weather but could reopen later today, an army spokesman said.


Another 668 travellers were evacuated from State Highway 5, with 368 rescued from the Napier end of the highway, and 300 evacuated to Taupo.

SH5 remained closed but Civil Defence and roading contractors were looking at beginning to retrieve the 150-odd cars in blocks of 20 this evening.

The number of cars meant most owners would need to wait until tomorrow, Taupo District Council said.

More snow is expected on the roads tonight and tomorrow, causing further delays.

Council controller Tina Jakes said the retrieval would be "a major logistical exercise".

"We understand that people will be anxious to get their cars back and get on their way but we ask that they are patient and let us get on with the process as quickly as possible.

"We will keep people being accommodated updated on any progress and ask that those in private or commercial accommodation call us if we don't already have their contact details and/or car keys."

Napier police area commander Inspector Kevin Kalff said there were no concerns for the welfare of anyone stranded or rescued.


Those rescued were either taken to the Tarawera Tavern, the Summit Kiosk or the Te Pohue Hotel. Some motorists had been picked up by family and friends.

Hukarere Girls College at Eskdale, north of Napier, was also acting as a centre for those evacuated.

Mr Kalff said there had been great support from the businesses along SH5 who had taken the evacuees and from organisations such as four-wheel drive clubs.

Hastings District Council had established a public inquiry number through its main number phone number 06 871 5000 for people wanting to find out if their family members were safe.

Taupo's Emergency Operations Centre had also organised a phone inquiry number - 0800 275 832 .

A heavy rain warning also remained in place for the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.