Central Otago has woken to its first decent snowfall of the season after around 5cm fell in the higher areas overnight.
The snow has been causing problems for cars attempting to cross the ranges between Queenstown and Wanaka and though graders are clearing the steep windy road, chains are still a must have for motorists.
Snow has also dusted the higher areas of Central Otago, but the good news for farmers worried about their stock is that the cold snap is expected to pass through the area quickly.
Metservice say the cold spell should ease on Saturday for the South, and the North Island’s will be hit with similar conditions expected to reach the Desert Road by this evening.
SKI FIELDS GET FIRST DUMP
Snow has already hit Mt Ruapehu and continues to fall today with around 20cm on the upper slopes.
Mt Ruapehu Ski Area Manager, Steve McGill says the Mt Ruapehu team is gearing up for the season which is due to open next month.
“Winter is certainly upon us, we have had approximately 10cm in the base area. At Turoa the road is closed at the 13km barrier and at Whakapapa, the Bruce Road is restricted to 4WD’s from Scoria Flat,” says Mr McGill.
Whakapapa is due to open on June 23 and Turoa on June 16.
Almost 450 staff, including lift operators, instructors, chefs and a maintenance crew will work at each of the ski fields over the season.
NZSki - which runs Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski fields - spokesman Craig Douglas told NZ Newswire there had been significant snowfall in all three areas.
The Remarkables had the most snowfall with 23cm recorded at base level on Wednesday.
"This time last year we were experiencing the warmest May on record so it's very different," he said.
"There has been snow on and off for the last week but this is the first time we've seen it come so low. We've definitely got a buzz around the place today."
Mr Douglas expected more snow this week.
Weatherwatch analyst Philip Duncan says it is likely to be chilly across the country until next Wednesday before temperatures rise again.
3 News / NZN