A blast of cold wind has brought snow to parts of both islands this morning.

Dustings of snow landed in Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay, and Taupo this morning.

Caution urged after 10 crashes overnight

Overnight snow and ice caused problems for motorists today, and police urged drivers to take extra care and avoid all unnecessary travel in parts of the country.



Road closures

In the North Island the Napier-Taupo Road and Rimutaka Hill Road were closed because of the dumping of snow overnight.

SH5 between Napier and Taupo closed just after 6am today.

"We closed the road off at both ends, Napier and Taupo, so we could get clean-up crews in there," Hawke's Bay state highways manager Chuck Dowdell said.

Contractors also ensured vehicles which had begun driving across the highway before the closure all got through without incident.

"No one has been stranded up there," Mr Dowdell said.

While the heaviest falls were reported on the Taupo plateau side of the highway there were moderate falls across the Titiokura range on the Hawkes Bay side.

"We had a fair bit in some areas."

Contractors had been working with graders and snow clearance machines to clear it.


It was the first major snowfall of the year across the highway and the first closure of the year.

Mr Dowdell said conditions had begun to clear and the situation was being monitored "by the hour".

He advised people planning to travel north to check for road condition updates on the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

He said even if the highway were to re-open later today or tomorrow people should use it "only if absolutely necessary" as there was still the prosect of possible ice building up in some areas.

There were no weather-related issues on other highways through the Hawkes Bay.

State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford was closed because of snow and avalanche risk. Snow had also closed SH93 from Mataura to Clinton, and Dunedin's northern motorway.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) had issued several warnings for many highways in the South Island because of snow and dangerous black ice.

MetService have lifted a heavy snow warning for Southland, Clutha and Dunedin, but the snow showers aren't over for the day.

Meteorologist John Law said even areas that avoided the snow flurries would still be cold - Twizel was down to about -6 or -7 degrees overnight - and black ice would form as moisture on the ground froze.

Snow north of Taupo. Photo / Supplied
Snow north of Taupo. Photo / Supplied

Cold snap brings snow to large parts of NZ

A warning for "significant snow" is in place for high country in the central and lower North Island and the Hawkes Bay hills are coated in white after snow fell to 500m last night.

In Wellington, rain and sleet showers were expected, as was a dusting of snow on the ranges.

"It's going to be cold. It's still too warm for snow but it's not a very nice day," Mr Law said.

Temperatures in the capital would only get to about seven degrees today, with an overnight low of three degrees.

The winter cold snap has resulted in snow falling in the Western Bay of Plenty.

The slushy, sleety snow has already fallen and thawed at Tauranga's TECT All Terrain Park this morning.

Ranger Jarron McInnes said the snow had now cleared.

"It was snowing for a bit here and there. It was quite heavy but it wasn't settling on the ground," he said.

"The ground temperature was still quite warm. It's cleared up now.

"The snow fell between 9am and 10am.

"The last two years we haven't had snow but we have had it before. It's the same thing, just won't settle on the ground."

Mr McInnes said he wasn't surprised to see the snow this morning.

"The temperature has been really cold plus the wind chill factor. I was kind of expecting it to [snow]."

Aucklanders will shiver through another chilly day temperatures slide throughout the day as cool southerly air moves north.

Temperatures will hover about 10 degrees for most of the afternoon before dropping to single digits this evening.

Mr Law said it could get down to about five degrees tonight in the city and freezing in rural areas, and there's no respite in the near future.

"It's going to be a cold day then it's a cold night tonight and then it's going to be another cold day tomorrow," Mr Law said.