Following more than a week of heavy rain, floods and snow, Otago residents are being told to expect a slow return to normality, evident by Civil Defence yesterday making a helicopter drop to 11 isolated homes in the Macraes and Danseys Pass areas.

Elsewhere in the South yesterday, most major roads were open while parts of Central Otago, Upper Clutha and the Mackenzie Country were still blanketed by up to 1m of snow. Snow in parts of the Clutha district has started to melt, but higher parts of the Lawrence-Tuapeka area remained coated.

Waitaki Civil Defence emergency services manager Chris Raine said an aerial food-drop of bread, milk and a copy of the Otago Daily Times was made to almost a dozen homes in the Macraes and Danseys Pass areas.

"We think about 11 households up there are impacted. Some are just getting road access back, but for some that is still probably days away."


Civil Defence recovery manager Eric Spittal said the conditions in the higher parts of Macraes were "pretty dramatic", but he added that "given the circumstances" people were in good shape and most had good supplies of food.

More than 20 rural Waitaki roads remained closed, due either to flooding or snow, across the district yesterday, and Southroads regional manager Russell den Dulk said all roads that were closed required "major machinery" to make repairs.

A pipeline break on the Goodwood section of the Waihemo water scheme at the Pleasant River bridge near Palmerston has led to a "conserve water" notice being issued for Dunback and Palmerston. Local body politicians had praise yesterday for the work done by Central Otago roading contractors during the prolonged snowstorm, which followed surface flooding in parts of the district.

Speaking at a Vincent Community Board meeting, Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said roading staff did a "fantastic job" keeping roads open and clear, and board members also congratulated the roading team.

Former Maniototo Community Board chairman Richard Smith contacted staff to say roading contractors had done a "rip-snorter" of a job in that area, Central Otago District Council chief executive Phil Melhopt said.

Residents trying to clear massive snowfalls that are causing damage to property in Tekapo may be left shovelling snow for "weeks" to come, unless warmer, wetter weather lends a helping hand.

Before roads reopened on Saturday, snow, including drifts up to 2m deep, had cut off access to the township for 48 hours, but Mackenzie Civil Defence controller Bernie Haar said planning had started yesterday to reopen local schools.

"We've got access to all streets in Tekapo, but we have still got a lot of snow piled up, particularly in the commercial area." There had been some damage to buildings, as a result of the snow, he said.


"There's building damage because the facades have got too much weight of snow and it has pulled down some local spouting and some facades have come off the front of buildings."

On Monday, Tekapo recorded a 5deg frost, and MetService media and communications meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the township would remain in "deep freeze" until at least next week.

"The scenario is basically a west-sou'west flow, lighter winds from the storm that's well gone, but the perfect recipe for frosts.

"They will be quite sharp, to say the least, easily in the minus four to minus seven category.

"Also there is still snow cover, and that can make it feel like a bit of a deep freeze."