Thick and heavy snow has closed off a number of major roads in the central North Island - and even the detour is off limits due to a serious crash.

The Desert Rd and the main detour route via State Highway 49 between Tohunga Junction and Waiōuru are both closed.

The MetService is forecasting 2cm to 4cm of snow above 600m up to midday.

Traffic is being diverted via SH4 - but that is now also closed south of Raetihi because a truck has rolled.

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The truck is blocking the road and motorists are being told to delay travel.

Snowfall warnings lifted

for SH1 Desert Rd had been lifted by 10am, but drivers are still being told to delay travel as SH1, SH4 and SH49 in the Central Plateau are still closed.

SH1 Waiōuru to Taihape has since opened to just south-bound traffic.

Remutaka Hill Rd has also reopened after overnight snow, but the NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to take care, as more snow showers are on the way.

A heavy snow watch remains in force for Banks Peninsula with snow falling down to 300m on the Port Hills of Christchurch, and road snowfall warnings in place for the Desert and Remutaka Hill Roads in the North Island and the Lewis Pass in the south the cold air that swept up the country is now moving off to the east.

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MetService forecaster Tahlia Crabtree says Wednesday's wild weather is set to ease as a ridge of high pressure moves across from the Tasman sea, shuffling the stormy low pressure away to the east.

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Central and western regions of New Zealand can expect to wake to a settled and frosty start Thursday. Northern and eastern regions would start with showers, but these were expected to clear throughout the day.

But Crabtree warned with the cold air left behind wet roads were at risk of becoming icy.

"Snow and ice may also remain about alpine roads, so remember to take care when travelling," she said.

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