10 Jul 2015

Farm animals take shelter from snow

8:29 am on 10 July 2015

A snow-bound North Island high country farmer says his 6,500 sheep and 1,000 cattle are fending for themselves amongst natural shelter, waiting for the snow storm to pass.

MetService has a severe weather warning in place for the hill country between Mohaka and Gisborne, where blizzard-like conditions will swarm roads and leave up to 40cm of snow in some places.

Lloyd Holloway owns Waitara Station, which lies on the Taupo side of the Titiokura Mountain range.

He said the weather forecast gave him enough warning to split the stock into smaller groups, allowing them to find pockets of shelter.

"Some of the top country we run up to 4,300ft - that snow will be over your knees so, unless you're walking or riding a horse, you won't be going there for a couple of days," he said.

"If it carries on for four or five days you've got to start poking around a bit more and doing a bit more, but this time of the year the sheep aren't heavy in lamb and everything's spread out, so they're pretty much looking after themselves."

Mr Holloway said they were prepared if the power and roads were cut off.

"We've got our own generators when the power goes off and plenty of tucker in the deep freeze."

Meanwhile, the white blanket covering parts of the southern South Island is beginning to thaw and farmers said the weather was looking up.

Some areas have had snow six times already this winter.

But a sheep and beef farmer at Owaka in south east Otago, John Latta, said snow was part and parcel of farming in the far south.

"It's just winter conditions in the south, it doesn't make it any easier getting round with a lot of snow and when the snow goes it leaves plenty of mud. Underfoot conditions are the dead opposite to North Canterbury, if only we could send them some of our conditions I'd be very happy."

He said yesterday's weather helped the snow start to melt.

"Things have warmed up a little and there's quite a thaw on, there's been a little bit of light rain where I am and that will hasten the disappearance of the snow and there's no more snow forecast, so things are on the up.

"I think we're through the worst of the snowy conditions and the outlook over the next few days is quite good."

Mr Latta said while the amount of winter stock feed in the region is good, people will be keeping a close eye on it because the chance of more snow is high.