Alpine passes remain closed after dump
Thu, 07 Jun 2012 6:05p.m.
By Hamish Clark
The huge dump of snow in the back country is still causing problems with both mountain passes through to the West Coast closed for a second day.
Diggers have been brought in to clear Lewis Pass and Arthurs Pass and Kiwirail had its own specialised gear to clear the Tranzalpine line – a snow plough attached to the front of a locomotive smashed into the drifts to clear the way on the Transalpine line.
Snow blankets the whole of North Canterbury and as the skies cleared at Hanmer Springs the good weather was causing its own set of problems for those trying to get around.
Some linemen had to tow each other out just to get down a country road where lines were down and power was out.
“There is too much snow unfortunately we haven’t got a four wheel drive available [so] we are stuck here for the moment,” says Mainpower linesman Brett Hancock.
And campervans with chains had to be hauled to safety by a farmer and his tractor.
“We have dug ourselves out this morning with the help of a tractor so we are going to see if we can at least get further than that but that was pretty good going,” says British tourists Hilary Quail.
While the tourist township looked a picture locals were determined to dig it out by hand, and by machine.
And for the second day in a row swimmers were turned away from the hot pools.
“We want to go for a swim but we can't go for a swim cause it is closed,” says Auckland tourist Natahma Judd.
In Kaikoura power was off to 1,000 homes overnight and has flicked on and off all day, though linemen made the most of the good weather when it was there, getting almost everyone hooked back on.
With the sun out and the wind blowing the snow is starting to melt but the thick stuff is going to hang around for a few more days yet.
With most of the roads clear it is just the last of the alpine passes that remain closed - the snow marking a spectacular start to winter.
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