About 900 homes in an around Gisborne are without power today, as are some in Motu.

Meanwhile, Civil Defence has contacted motorists who spent the night in hotels and a marae at Matawai and Tiniroto advising them to stay put and to wait for updates on the roads.

Civil Defence emergency manager Louise Bennett reminded people to delay travel plans and check the transport agency website for updates.

"Please don't be tempted to take the kids out to the country to play in the snow. Remember that all the roads are currently closed. Contractors are working hard to get the roads open."


All Gisborne District Council sports grounds are also closed.

PHOTOS: Snow around NZ

Stranded motorists spent the night in other people's houses after roads around Gisborne closed as snow carpeted the region in a thick white blanket.

Lawrence and Liz Rau, deer farmers who live 1km out of Matawai, took in family friend Tracey Powdrell, her mother and three children, whose trip between Wairoa and Whakatane had to be aborted.

Mrs Rau said her farm was "absolutely covered" in snow.

"We've got stranded people staying with us. We've got a few stranded people in Matawai apparently," she said.

"It was as big as any we've had and I've lived here for about 38 years in the Matawai district."



Mrs Powdrell had a slow trip to Gisborne yesterday, but the weather was fine when she arrived there.

However, by the time she reached Matawai the snow was falling heavily, so she pulled over at the dairy and rang Mr and Mrs Rau. She said several other drivers also pulled over.

If SH2 re-opened today, Mrs Powdrell planned to resume her trip.

For now, her children, aged 3, 7, and 9, were making the most of the snow.

"The children are just about to go out and build a snowman and maybe get behind a motorbike on a sack and maybe have a bit of fun in the snow."

Another positive was the "beautiful" scenery the snow had created, she said.

The snow in Matawai. Photo / Liz Rau
The snow in Matawai. Photo / Liz Rau

Aucklanders Donald and Sally Putan have had an adventurous holiday so far.

After cycling in the Bay of Plenty they left Te Puke yesterday, bound for Loisels Beach, but the trip to Matawai was far from straightforward.

On a steep stretch of the drive Mr Putan thought he would take it carefully.

"But the rain turned to snow and the snow turned to ice."

In the end Mr Putan got a tow up the hill but had to give that up when the person hauling him came across a car that had slipped off the side of the road.

On his own, Mr Putan found himself sliding along. In the end another local towed him to Matawai, where he arrived about 9pm.

"It was probably the longest half-hour of my life," he said of the final part of the trip.

"We knocked on the door of the [Matawai] Hotel and said 'have you got any rooms?', and she said, 'you're lucky, we've got one left'."

Those who couldn't find anywhere else to go were directed to the local marae.

Mr Putan was unsure when he'd be back on the road. One local told him it looked like more snow was on the way today.

A keen photographer, he was heading out to take some pictures.

"Whatever happens, we're going to make the most of it."

The Matawai Hotel's 10 rooms are full - with 19 people staying there.

Owner Essie Langley said 12 people were snow refugees, among them a couple of families.

She was hoping for the road to re-open today so she can stock up on supplies.

"If we were snowed in for a week, we'd be starving," Miss Langley said.

About six inches of snow had settled on the ground outside.

"We just had the powdery stuff coming down and it was melting on the ground until yesterday afternoon. That's when it started to settle."

A severe weather warning for snow showers between the town and Mohaka remains in place.

State Highway 2 either side of Gisborne is closed and some motorists travelling between Bay of Plenty are stuck in Matawai, about an hour north of Gisborne.

After a couple of days of light snow that didn't settle, heavy flurries started yesterday afternoon and continued into the evening. Mrs Rau said about a foot of snow had settled this morning. The odd flake was still falling but there were areas of blue sky.