24 Sep 2020

Avalanches large enough to kill observed, alerts issued

10:48 am on 24 September 2020

Warnings for dangerous avalanche conditions are in place for several alpine areas after recent snow and rain.

The fire near Lake Pukaki near the foot of Aoraki/Mt Cook, in the Mackenzie Country, was contained after snow and heavy rain hit the area but could take months to fully extinguish. 2 September 2020

Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Wet slab avalanches large enough to bury or destroy a car were sighted at Aoraki Mt Cook yesterday following up to 50 centimetres of new snow on Tuesday night.

The Avalanche Advisory has issued the alerts for alpine areas in Taranaki and Arthur's Pass, rising to high alpine areas at Aoraki/Mt Cook, Wanaka and Fiordland.

Avalanches large enough to bury, injure or kill a person have been observed running to the valley floor in parts of Fiordland.

"A real roller coaster of weather and avalanche conditions for the rest of this week," the advisory said.

"Plan to alter plans quickly, rain on snow events followed by snow to low levels will keep the conditions changing daily."

Anyone entering backcountry around Wanaka is also being urged adopt a cautious approach today.

"Give the snow pack more time to settle out before launching into steep terrain."

There's heightened avalanche conditions at Tongariro, Ohau, Two Thumbs, Queenstown and Nelson Lakes.