A dozen motorists are stuck in heavy snow on the Napier-Taupo Rd, and some are refusing to leave.

Eight trucks and cars are stuck in snow on the Napier-Taupo Highway and a rescue operation is under way to get to the motorists, after State Highway 5 was shut early this morning because of heavy snow and ice.

Police say the vehicles are just past Te Pohue, halfway between Napier and Taupo.

All are safe but rescuers do not know how long the vehicles would remain snowbound. The highway was closed several hours ago as snow blanketed the Central Plateau.

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"Police at the scene have said that the truck drivers are not wanting to leave their trucks," said the spokeswoman.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence and police are trying to rescue the motorists, and have taken 12 people to a Civil Defence collection point.

Civil Defence group manager Ian Macdonald said it was vital people don't drive past road closures. He said the trapped vehicles were found during a sweep of the road.

A vicious winter storm has most of the country in its grip as freezing temperatures spread north.

Eight trucks are trapped on the Napier-Taupo Rd, but drivers are refusing to leave the vehicles. Photo / Duncan Brown.
Eight trucks are trapped on the Napier-Taupo Rd, but drivers are refusing to leave the vehicles. Photo / Duncan Brown.

State Highway 1, the Napier-Taupo Rd, Desert Rd and other highways around the Central Plateau are all shut due to snow and ice. SH38 through Lake Waikaremoana is also about to close, shutting off Napier to the north.

Taihape has been cut off, with all roads blocked by snow and power out to the entire town.

Rangitikei farmer Angus Gordon said 9cm of snow has already fallen and was not letting up.

He said the main highway through Taihape was shut, the power was out and the worst was yet to hit tomorrow.

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Gordon said he hadn't seen snow this bad since 2001.