Heavy snowfall has disrupted state highway travel in the central North Island overnight Wednesday and this morning, with several weather-related incidents in Whanganui.

State Highway 1 Desert Road between Rangipo and Waiouru reopened about 1pm after being closed all morning.

State Highway 47 Turangi to National Park, State Highway 46 Rangipo to Tongariro and State Highway 49 Tohunga Junction to Waiouru were closed but reopened late morning.

However, there is a detour in place for southbound traffic via State Highways 46, 47, 49 and 4 before rejoining State Highway 1 at Waiouru with northbound traffic using the same route in reverse.


The Taihape-Napier Road is closed.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Waikato system manager Cara Lauder said these highways are expected to remain closed for some time.

State Highway 1 between Taihape and Waiouru, State Highway 4 National Park to Tohunga Junction and State Highway 5 Napier to Taupo remain open.

However, a large tree has fallen on State Highway 4 at Upokongaro near Whanganui, blocking one lane.

A fallen tree blocked State Highway 4 at Upokongaro. Photo / Bevan Conley
A fallen tree blocked State Highway 4 at Upokongaro. Photo / Bevan Conley

Lauder advises motors to delay unnecessary travel or consider using State Highway 4 and State Highway 41, via Whanganui.

"Depending on your destination, this may add a considerable amount of time to your journey," Lauder said.

"Maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front, and to slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards."

Police are also urging motorists to take care after a number of road incidents this morning.


Police received a report around 7am of a truck blocking a lane on State Highway 47 Turangi to National Park after losing traction.

They also received a report of a two-car crash around 9am on SH4 near the intersection of the highway and Makirikiri Valley Road. A spokeswoman said there were no injuries.

The spokeswoman said police urge motorists to check before they leave for their travels, and drive to the conditions.

A Whanganui District Council spokeswoman said Burmah Hill at the top end of Mangamahu is closed due to a slip.

The slip is being cleared today and only a small number of residents are affected.

"Elsewhere there are tree branches on roads which crews are clearing. We also have patrols out checking for any further weather-related issues."


She said there are no significant weather-related issues at any parks at this time.

Taihape's Geoff Duncan said they have around 35-40mm of snow on the ground and a few small branches have fallen down but nothing substantial.

Mid-morning it was 5C at his property just south of the Gentle Annie and he said he has collected around 20mm of moisture from the rain gauge, with some of that being snowmelt.

"We and others around us are well shy of any lambing for this time of year so we've had no issues with regards to livestock health and wellbeing."

Duncan said he was due to load straw out to Taranaki on trucks and trailers this morning but decided against it as weather conditions have made it too mucky underfoot.

Upper Mt Ruapehu has received an additional 15-20cm of fresh snow overnight and the lower mountain has received around 10-15cm of fresh snow right down to Whakapapa Village.


Due to the weather and road closures in the region, lift facilities are closed today.

The Bruce Rd is also closed to all vehicles due to heavy snow and low visibility.

On the Turoa side, the Ohakune-Mountain Rd is closed due to snow on the road.

A Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) spokeswoman said they have had continual snowmaking since Tuesday night and have converted eight million litres of water into snow on the mountain.

With the ski season now open, after the storm has passed RAL will have a better idea of whether it can get machinery out on the upper mountain to start preparing and building trails.

She said there is another front starting on Sunday evening that is likely bring more significant snow.


MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said it is looking to be a relatively fine and sunny weekend ahead for the Whanganui region with showers clearing and strong southerlies easing this afternoon.

"Tomorrow will have a bit of morning cloud and then you should see some sun in the afternoon making for quite a nice day."

He said Saturday is also looking to be sunny and fine but clouds are expected to return by Sunday with rain developing on Sunday afternoon.

Temperature-wise "it is winter," he said, but temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days.

Friday's temperature is expected to reach 14C, Saturday's forecast high is 16C with a high of 17C on Sunday .