Severe weather has placed Queenstown under a state of emergency for a period of seven days, as strong rains and flooding arrive with the beginning of the school holidays.
The tourist town was forecast to have an influx of leisure travellers as New Zealand and Australian schools go on September holidays.
Queenstown Airport is expected to see 28,000 domestic and 15,000 international passengers pass through their terminals next week, with the arrival of the holiday traffic.
The airport remains open and without flooding, however in a statement advised travellers to reconsider travel.
“Some roads in the district are affected, so we are advising people to only travel if it is safe to do so,” it said.
Flights could be affected and passengers are advised to check updates via the website or contact airlines directly.
Waka Kotahi has also said that 14 severe weather warnings and road closures are expected to impact the school holiday traffic.
“People planning their school holiday departures need to check in with the MetService forecasts and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s traffic and highways update to be on the safe side,” said a statement from the Transport Agency.
As of last night, the four South Island highways are currently closed in Southland, Otago and South Canterbury and the extreme weather is expected to travel up the country.
Mayor Glyn Lewers declared a state of emergency for the Queenstown area this morning at 6.33am, with roads and the city centre affected by flooding and debris.
Lewers asked that non-essential travel be avoided, particularly through the centre of town.
“If travel is essential, then please take extreme care.”
Snow season ends in state of emergency in Queenstown
Some of the area’s ski fields, which were hoping the storms would bring snow and skiers, have been shuttered today.
The Remarkables ski resort has advised would-be skiers “to avoid any unnecessary travel” while sister NZSki resort Coronet Peak has closed early for the season.
Coronet Peak is the first Queenstown ski field to throw in the towel on the 2023 season following the torrential storms and will not be reopening for 2023.
On Wednesday, an NZSki spokesperson told the Herald it would be making the call in 24 hours as they were waiting to see how much snow would arrive from the forecast storm, but “it could go either way”.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a season and we would like to thank you all for your support as we have grappled with one of the lowest snowfall years in Coronet Peak’s memory. Look forward to seeing you next winter,” said an update on the mountain’s website.
NZSki advised anyone with lessons or shuttle transport booked at Coronet Peak to rebook via the website or contact the field to change these to Remarkables - where the season is still forecast to run until October 8.
In Wanaka, Cardrona aims to keep ploughing on until October 15.
Treble Cone is also closed due to rockslides. The storm which was hoped would deliver snow, instead has knocked out Emerald Bluffs and lightning storms have taken out some of the mountain webcams.