27 Jul 2011

Most roads open, but extreme care needed

6:02 am on 27 July 2011

Most roads have reopened following heavy snow which blanketed much of New Zealand, but people are warned to take extreme care as night falls and roads refreeze.

All state highways, except for State Highway 94 from Milford Sound to Lake Gunn in Fiordland, have been reopened on Tuesday afternoon.

Road crews have cleared and reopened the Desert Road section of State Highway 1 from Waiouru to Rangipo.

Transport Agency area manager Roger Bailey says the Milford Road is likely to remain closed overnight on Tuesday with up to 25 centimetres of fresh snow expected.

The agency is also warning many roads will again become hazardous as the melting snow turns icy in the low temperatures.

Police throughout the country say there have been very few weather-related crashes so far, however there were five minor crashes in the areas around Mt Ruapheu ski field.

St John Ambulance attended 20 incidents in the South Island where people fell due to icy conditions on Tuesday, but say callout levels are returning to normal.

Flights resume

Dozens of flights in and out of Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill airports were cancelled on Monday due to heavy snow and ice on the runways.

Flights resumed at Christchurch mid-morning on Tuesday. The first international flights landed about 9.25am and some domestic flights had also resumed.

Just three international flights managed to land at Christchurch Airport on Monday night, and about 150 people slept at the airport overnight.

Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill airports had resumed flights on Tuesday.

Worst of cold snap over

MetService says fine weather is on the way to help thaw snow that blanketed much of the South Island and parts of the North Island.

Forecaster Chris Noble says the coldest air has moved off to the east and the final snow flurries were due to clear up early on Tuesday.

Mr Noble says the airflow over the country will turn westerly, which should clear up the weather in eastern and central areas, but will bring for the west coast from Waikato to Fiordland.

Power restored

Lines company Orion does not believe it will have any more major problems such as those that caused Monday's power cut to 2000 homes in Canterbury.

The company says most of the problems were caused by fallen trees, snow straining lines, and cars hitting power poles.

At 9am on Tuesday, Orion said only about 10 households in Christchurch remained without power.