2 Jun 2019

Snow affects roads and rain, strong winds arrive for holiday weekend

11:53 am on 2 June 2019

MetService says about five centimetres of snow fell on the Desert Road overnight, however, the main highway is now open again.

Snow around the Desert Road at 7.21am on Sunday 2 June.

Snow around the Desert Road at 7.21am on Sunday 2 June. Photo: NZTA

The Transport Agency said the Kaikōura highway, SH1 south, between Peketa and Oaro has reopened after being closed yesterday and overnight due to the danger of rockfall.

A short time ago it also reopened Route 70, the alternative route to Kaikōura. Weather conditions have improved which allowed contractors to clear the road of snow and an abandoned car.

Around Queenstown, drivers are advised to carry chains for some routes although crews have also gritted those roads and been busy overnight.

State Highway 1 over the Desert Road was closed from midnight, but reopened early this morning.

Meanwhile, MetService has lifted its severe weather watch for the lower North Island. Gale force winds were battering the region, but MetService said the winds will ease.

Snow which closed the Lewis Pass, Arthur's Pass and Porter Pass in the South Island yesterday, has also eased and is no longer expected to affect the roads today.

Arthurs Pass 1 June

South Island roads, including Arthur's Pass, are affected by snow or heavy rain. Photo: NZTA

Rain, wind arrive for holiday weekend

On Saturday, gales and a southerly change were forecast for central and northern New Zealand.

The strong winds were due to affect Hawke's Bay south of Hastings, Tararua District, Wairarapa, Wellington, Kaikōura Coast and Banks Peninsula, MetService said.

Early on Saturday fire services said they had 25 weather-related calls overnight for minor flooding in the North Canterbury towns of Woodend, Kaiapoi and Rangiora.

Christchurch recorded 50mm of rain over 12 hours.

MetService is warning of heavy rain due on the Kaikōura Coast, along with gale southerlies.

Heavy snow is also expected in the area north of Mt Cook and about the Kaikōura ranges above 400 metres.

Many South Island roads have had snow or are getting affected by heavy rain.

Dunedin police have sounded the alarm as "brass monkey" weather created a perfect storm for carnage on the roads this holiday weekend, the Otago Daily Times reported.

"That extra 20kmh over the limit is only going to get you to the next car ahead of you faster," Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.

"Passing lanes aren't drag strips. We don't want to be telling your loved ones you aren't coming home again."

Murky and rainy conditions in some parts of the South and the large number of motorcycles on the roads for the Brass Monkey Rally could create a perfect storm for crashes, and police would be out in force this weekend, Mr Dinnissen said.

"Plan for a long trip home. If you're running late, just be late."

NZTA said a strong wind warning on the Rimutaka Hill (State Highway Two) north of Wellington had been lifted.

MetService meteorologist Kyle Lee said it was likely to stay cold for much of the Queen's Birthday weekend before warming briefly in the North Island on Tuesday.

He said May was a few degrees warmer than usual but temperatures looked to drop back to normal for this time of year.

- RNZ / Otago Daily Times