Schools have shut their doors and several major roads are closed as a wintry blast brings snow falls to sea level from Invercargill to Dunedin.
The snow accumulation on Otago roads had closed many roads.
State Highway 1 from Dunedin to Waitati, State Highway 85 from Kyeburn to Palmerston, State Highway 87 from Outram to Middlemarch, State Highway 93 from Mataura to Clinton, State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound, have all been closed due to snow.
A number of other roads have snow warnings and chains need to be used.
Schools closed as snow blankets Otago
Several schools in Dunedin have closed and many others have delayed opening until 10am.
Otago Boys’ High School, Otago Girls’ High School, Logan Park High School, St Hilda’s Collegiate and Kavanagh College are all closed.
Bayfield High School, Kaikorai Valley College, John McGlashan College, Kings and Queens high schools and Columba College have delayed 10am starts.
All primary and intermediate schools and kindergartens between Mosgiel to Port Chalmers to Waikouaiti have a delayed start today and will open at 10am.
The Dunedin City Council said bus services had been suspended on all hill and southern routes.
The Queenstown District Council said all roads were affected by snow. The Crown Range is closed and all other main routes are open but chains are needed on roads where snowploughs are yet to reach.
High winds cut power
High winds have again cut power to people in Wairarapa and Tararua.
Around 2200 properties were without power this morning after gales up to 120 km/h has been hitting the lower North Island since Friday night.
Powerco Acting Network Operations Manager Dean Stevenson said trees were responsible for a significant proportion of the power cuts over the weekend.
“The majority of these problems could be avoided if tree owners had called in the professionals to clear their trees from lines.”
He said field crews have been busy working to repair the damage as quickly and safety as possible.
Power lines that had fallen to the ground must be treated as live at all times, he said
Close call with shipping container
A woman was almost crushed by a toppled shipping container in Dunedin on Saturday as wind gusts of up to 120km/h wreaked havoc in the south.
Ploni White was helping take items out of her family’s container when a gust ripped through Ravensbourne, Dunedin, with such force a nearby container began to fall towards her. “It missed me by inches,” she said.
She crawled from behind the wreckage to find her granddaughter sitting in her pram – unscathed – nearby.
“If it had fallen any other way, we both could have been squashed.”
The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to Dunedin and temperatures plunged 10C within minutes from a high of 17C.
Emergency services were inundated with calls to downed power lines and damaged poles, while power authorities scrambled to restore electricity to 1790 Dunedin consumers.
– Additional reporting, Otago Daily Times
– NZ Herald, APNZ