The country is set for a brief respite from a wintry blast that has gripped the country over the past few days.

MetService is predicting sun for most this weekend with a few frosts and showers around the place.

Further snowfall is expected for the Desert Rd, slowing efforts to reopen it after days of closures following snow blanketing much of the Central North Island. Roads around the Central Plateau were the most affected yesterday with temporary closures on State Highway 5, 49, and 1 but all bar the Desert Rd had reopened by last night.

Parts of Waiouru and Hawke's Bay were still without power yesterday in freezing temperatures.


An Eastland Network spokesperson said "several hundred people" in the wider Wairoa area would be without power overnight, as wild weather and road closures made repairs "challenging in the extreme".

State Highway 38 between Wairoa and Urewera National Park was closed due to flooding and the MetService issued a severe weather watch for Hawke's Bay overnight with snow and rain expected.

Electricity crews were expected to be out at first light this morning and an update for affected residents would be given at 7.30am.

The road closures followed a week of freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, power outages, and rain for most of the country. In Rotorua residents were calling their snowfall a once in a decade event, while Aucklanders noticed particularly low temperatures.

Travellers became stuck in the central North Island after main highways closed. On Thursday hundreds of guests at the Chateau Tongariro were forced to bunker down by the fire with board games, and at the Waiouru army barracks the defence force hosted 60 travellers who became stuck in the main town, including a bus load of passengers.

Major Patrick Hibbs said the passengers as well as truck drivers and other travellers were taken in after their journeys were cut short thanks to the wild weather. They were given a hearty dinner and breakfast, and a bed for the night, before they moved on again yesterday afternoon, nearly a full day after becoming stuck.

Bus passengers stranded at Waiouru get to stay at the NZ Army barracks for a second night as snow wreaks havoc across the Central Plateau picture supplied credit: NZ ARMY
Bus passengers stranded at Waiouru get to stay at the NZ Army barracks for a second night as snow wreaks havoc across the Central Plateau picture supplied credit: NZ ARMY

The camp normally had a 90 per cent occupancy and those rescued were "very lucky" to get a bed for the night, Major Hibbs said.

"They were super duper happy."

The New Zealand Transport Authority warned drivers to take care on the icy roads as they continued on their way.

Last night rain was easing in Christchurch and Auckland but was still lashing parts of Wellington.

MetService meteorologist April Clark said conditions were easing and while parts of the country could expect rain over the weekend, it would be mostly sunny.

Cloud was clearing in the Central Plateau, which was expected to remain "very cold".

Weekend forecast


Sunshine, with some cloud. Saturday: High 13C, Low 6C. Sunday H 15C, L 9C.

Sunshine for the whole weekend. Saturday: H 14C, L 3C. Sunday H 14C, L 7C.

Cloud and sunshine. Saturday: H 13C, L -1C. Sunday: H 13C, L 5C.

Rain expected, with a glimmer of sunshine. Saturday: H 11C, L 6C. Sunday H 13C, L 10C.

Fine on Saturday, with some rain on Sunday. Saturday: H 9C, Low -2C. Sunday H 12C, L 3C.