24 Jun 2013

Volunteers keen to help snowed in farmers

1:13 pm on 24 June 2013

One of the organisers rallying volunteers to help on snow-bound Central Otago farms says he has been inundated with offers of help.

Federated Farmers and the Otago Rural Support Trust are organising teams to help farmers around Danseys Pass and Naseby who are struggling to reach their stock because of heavy snow.

Tractors and bulldozers were used to help feed stock at Mt Gowrie Station at Clarks Junction in Otago.

Tractors and bulldozers were used to help feed stock at Mt Gowrie Station at Clarks Junction in Otago. Photo: SUPPLIED

Otago Rural Support Trust coordinator David Mellish says he began getting calls within minutes of putting out the word on Sunday night.

Among those who responded was a couple who will make a four hour-drive from Christchurch to help.

Most of the volunteers will help make tracks through the snow to reach isolated livestock in need of food and water.

Adverse Events Spokesperson Katie Milne says most South Island farmers have been able to cope with the southerly blast that has dumped well over 1 metre of snow in some areas.

Mt Gowrie station at Clarks Junction.

Mt Gowrie station at Clarks Junction. Photo: SUPPLIED

But she says about 40 farms in Central Otago isolated by the snow may need help with snow-raking.

She says the animals will be cold and hungry but the biggest problem now is getting access to water - with waterholes covered with snow and creeks frozen.

Ms Milne says says areas where farmers may need outside help include around Danseys Pass and in a line stretching from Naseby through to Clarks Junction.

Jeanette Maxwell farms near the Mt Hutt skifield in mid-Canterbury and says what is most needed is a quick thaw. After that, farmers will need to find and check electric fences, put wandering stock back where they should be and survey crop damage.

The Otago Rural Support Trust says it now has enough volunteers to help all farms in need, but the call has now gone out for people to help Canterbury High Country farms with snow-raking.

Because the high country can be treacherous volunteers will need to be experienced in working in alpine conditions and properly equipped.

Volunteers in Canterbury are being asked to contact the Rural Support Trust's Allan Baird on 03 308 7594 or 0274 350 141, and people outside Canterbury can call the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.