Freezing blast disrupts South Island
Wed, 27 Jun 2012 6:05p.m.
By Hamish Clark
A freezing southerly blast has the lower South Island in its grip - closing mountain passes, and making roads treacherous.
But it isn't just that end of the island that's struggling. Drivers slid off the road and went tumbling down banks in Nelson, as well as Queenstown.
On State Highway 6 on the road out of Nelson, at least 10 vehicles crashed off the road in the icy conditions.
Senior Constable Marty Tutton says there were a lot of accidents today.
Cars started to come unstuck before dawn. A newspaper delivery van rolled off the road and down a bank, landing on the cycleway below.
Road barriers took the brunt of the crash, saving the driver from going over the edge, and fortunately there were no serious injuries.
“They are pretty treacherous, the conditions today - a lot of ice and snow on the Hope Saddle here, but a lot of black ice along the road,” says Mr Tutton.
Down south, ice near Queenstown forced emergency vehicles to take it slow to an accident near Arthur's Point, where a vehicle had slid off the road and disappeared into the trees below.
Meanwhile children waited in sub-zero temperatures for the bus ride to school, before being sent home since the conditions were so bad.
“It was okay when I left the school yard this morning but it got worse on the way out so, no go,” says school bus driver Di Griffiths.
And it was no go on the West Coast too, with locals saying it’s the first decent snow fall in these parts in 50 years.
“Cars have been slipping and sliding all around town – there are a few people out driving when they shouldn't be,” says Reefton resident Bruce Hunter.
Heavy snow also brought down trees and closed the highway between Reefton and Springs Junction.
With cold temperatures expected again tonight there could be more ice to deal with again tomorrow.
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