Good news for mountain bunnies, less so for drivers

Ski bunnies around the country welcomed yesterday's cold snap, and the snowfall that came with it.

It's a day to wrap up warm, to have snowball fights and get ready for school holiday skiing with many parts of the country struggling to reach temperatures in the double digits throughout the day. The Desert Road was closed this morning to motorists because of snowfall.

But the cold weather also made for treacherous driving conditions, and closed some major highways.

Mt Hutt ski field in the South Island had 19cm of snowfall, which along with clear weather made for great skiing conditions.

Turoa ski field officially opened yesterday with 85cm of snowfall, and Whakapapa ski field will open tomorrow, after 80cm of snow yesterday.


Duty manager for the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Chiquita Rowe, said the hotel was prepared for the busy winter months to come. "It has been hectic, everyone is coming in for their snow experience, it's brilliant."

Although the cold snap is set to ease today, the rain will continue.

A southwesterly flow that brought showers and brief thunderstorms to Auckland and Northland yesterday would continue this morning before easing off, MetService said.

Duty meteorologist Frances Russell said western parts of the North Island would also be affected by this flow. A front would also move over the far south, with rain expected for Fiordland, Southland and Clutha.

Although wet weather will continue, temperatures are expected to reach double digits in some parts of the country, she said.

Meanwhile, police urged motorists to be careful. North Island drivers were advised to use caution on SH1's Desert Rd from Rangipo to Waiouru, SH47 from National Park to Turangi and SH4 from National Park to Tohunga Junction.

The Desert Rd and SH47 both closed yesterday because of snow.

Southern motorists traveling through Canterburys Porters Pass got the regions first taste of winter as snow blanketed the highest roads and hills.

Emergency services attended eight crashes in Clinton, Owaka, Balclutha, Dunedin and Waikouaiti between 8am and 9.30am, including a 4WD roll-over on SHI, near Waihola, and a bus sliding into a parked car.


A Southern District Health Board spokesman said six people with minor injuries went to Dunedin Hospital yesterday after ice-related incidents.