31 Jul 2022

South Island and Wellington whipped by winter weather

2:56 pm on 31 July 2022

Many parts of the country have been lashed by heavy rain and wintery weather this morning, with major highways closed across the South Island and a front moving east across the motu.

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Heavy rain has lashed upper parts of the South Island and Wellington, and snow has closed some South Island highways. Photo: 123rf

Wellington and Marlborough were the worst affected, with people warned to take extra care.

Marlborough District Council engineer Stephen Rooney said Blenheim's sewer system was overflowing at a number of locations, and people should treat all floodwaters as contaminated.

Council and Waka Kotahi contractors are also busy clearing floodwaters and slips around the region.

The damage includes multiple slips on State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Picton.

MetService meteorologist Dan Corrigan said Marlborough had recorded the most rainfall so far.

"Places around Marlborough have seen between 90 and 100mm of rain, especially around the Rai Valley, Wairau Valley, and in the Richmond Range, [places] around there have the heaviest rain for our observation network, for the past 24 hours."

Snow, slips and flooding shut down major South Islands roads

People travelling on South Island roads have been urged to take extra care and be prepared for delays.

Flooding and slips forced the closure of State Highway 1 through Seddon on Saturday night, with it remaining closed into Sunday.

Both Arthur's and Lindis passes (SH6 and SH7) were closed due to snow, but they have both now reopened.

Heavy snow was also expected to accumulate on Porter's Pass (SH73).

A heavy snow warning was in place for inland Marlborough and northern parts of the Canterbury High Country, Corrigan said.

"We're expecting pockets of snow down to 200 or even 100m in those places".

Snow had already fallen to low levels in places.

"We have had reports of snow in Methven, which is down between 300 and 350m above mean sea level," he said.

Keen Canterbury skiers are having to wait to get on the slopes today.

Heavy snow has closed State Highway 73 through Arthurs Pass, cutting access to at least three ski fields.

Cheeseman Ski Area is one of those affected, and safety officer Carter Spencer said the mountain had had a good dusting.

"We got 40 centimetres of new snow overnight, pretty nice dry snow and yeah we've done some avalanche mitigation and trying to get this place open for the public, the boys are on the road getting things cleared up, all the snow all the way down to the valley floor about the highway, so yeah big job ahead of us."

Spencer said it was hoped the field could open this afternoon.

Other fields have opted to close and re-open tomorrow, including Mount Olympus and Mount Lyford.

A large boulder that fell into the road at Barrytown, on the West Coast, on Saturday, blocked an area of State Highway 6, but has now been cleared.

A large piece of the cliff wall which has fallen on to SH6.

Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

Wet, windy weekend weather for the North Island

Waka Kotahi warned there was flooding and slips on some roads in Wellington.

A slip on Volga Street in the Wellington suburb of Island Bay.

A slip on Volga Street in the Wellington suburb of Island Bay. Photo: RNZ / Craig Stephen

In the central North Island, MetService issued a road snowfall warning for the Desert Road until 9pm tonight.

It said snow showers were likely in the area this afternoon and evening, with up to 1cm of snow expected to accumulate at times above 800m.

A high pressure system moving across the country was expected to bring nicer weather later this week.

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