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This week’s snow brought out the chains

Snow has caused the first issues of the winter season with two-wheel drive vehicles attempting to cross the snowy Crown Range saddle without chains Wednesday morning, Queenstown Lakes District Council transport manager Denis Mander said.

On hand to observe the contractors at work on the summit of the alpine pass yesterday, Mr. Mander said he had a quick conversation with one driver who felt signage wasn’t adequate.  The ‘chains must be carried’ signs were put in place on both sides of the Crown Range last evening,” Mr Mander said.

Ultimately all the signage in the world could not take the place of people looking at the conditions and considering whether they were equipped for them.

“The forecast was very widely promoted through multiple mediums, snow arrived as forecast and drivers need to take some responsibility,” he said.

With snow clearance Wednesday on the range, 4WD vehicle and two-wheel drive vehicle with chains fitted did not encounter any issues.

Mr Mander urged people that wanted to have incident free travel in the district to invest in a set of chains and know how to use them.

“To that end we are holding some public chain fitting demonstrations next week, which we encourage people to get along too,” Mr Mander said.

Snow reports would also commence formally from next week, although the Council had issued messages yesterday via its website, facebook and twitter that chains must be carried on the Crown Range.

The chain fitting workshops will take place in Queenstown on:

  • Friday 25 May between 12 noon and 2pm on the Village Green
  • Saturday 26 May, between 10am-12pm at Remarkables Park Shopping Centre, and between 1:00pm and 3:00pm on the village green
  • Sunday 27 May at the Wakatipu Ski Club Ski Sale at the Events Centre, between 1.30pm and 3:30pm


The Wanaka chain fitting workshops will take place on:

  • Friday 1 June between 12 noon and 2pm in Helwick St (Ardmore St end)
  • Saturday 2 June between 10am and 2pm also in lake front car park.

As temperatures continued to fall with the onset of winter in the Queenstown Lakes District the Council was urging people to move into winter driving mode.

“We live in an alpine setting and that brings with it sub-zero temperatures, changeable conditions and snow and ice on our roads,” QLDC transport manager Denis Mander said.

It was not unusual for the region to experience snow to lake level and icy roads were a daily occurrence, particularly in shady areas. Gritting and the application of a frost fighting chemical, known as CMA, on local roads was already underway.

Winter Driving Tips:

  • Clear ice off all car windows before driving.
  • Reduce speed and increase following distances.
  • Carry chains and check you know how they fit.
  • Roads can freeze at any time of the day and conditions are changeable.
  • Brake and accelerate gently.
  • Keep some extra warm clothing in your car.


Homepage image/Kim Robinson

-Queenstown Lakes DC


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