13 Jul 2017

'All the roads are shut ... and the power went out'

2:26 pm on 13 July 2017

A Hawke's Bay family on a skiing holiday near Ohakune are snowed in, with no power and no log burner.

Ohakune's town sign and famous carrot covered in snow after the mid-July storm swept through.

Ohakune's town sign and famous giant carrot - and the rest of the township - were covered in snow as the mid-July storm swept through. Photo: Facebook / TCB Ohakune

The Ruapehu District Council is warning people in the area to stay home as the worst of this week's winter storm piles snow onto roads.

Keep up with RNZ's live updates as the storm crosses the North Island here and check our summary of what you need to know.

It said travel in some places might not be possible and people who could not avoid doing so should check the Transport Agency's website for the latest road information.

Thomas O'Sullivan said his family were unable to return to their farm in Hawke's Bay, and even getting to the nearby township could be tricky.

"We've probably got six or eight inches now, and all the roads are shut, we probably can't even drive into town now it's snowing that heavily," he said.

"The kids woke us all up about 5 o'clock and it was snowing really heavily then, and then it was sort of patchy for a while.

"Since the last hour and a half it's been snowing really heavily [again]."

Mr O'Sullivan said a power cut meant their lodgings were without heating.

"We've got plenty of food but the only problem is that [where] we're staying, the Airbnb place we're staying at, it hasn't got a log burner, it's only gas and electricity.

"And the power went out about an hour and a half ago so it could start to get cold pretty soon."

Guests play in the snow outside a lodge near the Tongariro Crossing.

Children - in a separate group to Mr O'Sullivan's family - play in the snow outside a lodge near the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Photo: Twitter / @LouisvanWyk

He said they were planning to go skiing, but now they could not go anywhere. The kids were having a great time but as it got colder later things could get a bit testing.

"Ironically, we've come here to go and see the snow but it's come to see us.

"It looks amazing, but unfortunately there won't be a lot of skiing done today."

RNZ reporter Sharon Brettkelly, who is also in the town, said she was talking to a midwife who was aware of three women due to give birth.

She said there was concerns they may need to be moved to a hospital.

But she said spirits remained high, with people snowboarding down the streets and having snow fights.

The district council has put on a skeleton staff in its Ohakune office to help with enquiries.

The town's mayor, Don Cameron, was snowed-in at his house near Mt Ruapehu and said it was probably the heaviest snow he had seen in more than 20 years.

He said all the nearby highways were either closed or about to be, and people should not bother going to work today.

Some of the trucks used to plow the roads were not four-wheel-drive vehicles and had come to a "dead halt", he said, and they were waiting for the 4WDs to arrive and clear the roads.

He said the roads were probably going to be closed for the rest of the day.

Holiday-makers stranded in north Canterbury

In the South Island, meanwhile, more than a dozen stranded travellers stayed at the Mount Lyford Lodge in north Canterbury - and several campervans had to be towed in.

Work under way to clear the inland road between Waiau and Mt Lyford.

Work under way to clear the inland road between Waiau and Mt Lyford. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

Ross Barnes from Mt Lyford Holiday Homes said there was about half a metre of snow in the village, and his guests were loving it.

"They're basically just sitting tight at the moment. There's not much you can do really but sit back and enjoy it.

"This is not unusual for us to have snow, this time of year, so us locals just know how to handle it."

Ohakune Railway Station

Ohakune Railway Station: Snow and ice have closed the state highways that ring the neighbouring Tongariro National Park. Photo: RNZ / Sharon Brettkelly

"Current conditions here in National Park village, #Ruapehu. All but snowed in!"

A photo posted to Twitter by a lodge owner in National Park Village, about 40km north of Ohakune. Photo: Twitter / @LouisvanWyk

Deer covered in snow just out of Waiouru

Deer covered in snow just out of Waiouru, about 30km east of Ohakune, in a photo posted to Twitter on Thursday. Photo: Twitter / @mpdotn

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