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Bitterly cold end to Labour weekend

Monday 22 Oct 2012 6:41 p.m.

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By Hamish Clark

It's been a bitterly cold end to Labour Weekend, with bad weather sweeping across the South Island.

Snow fell in Canterbury from Lake Tekapo up to Methven, while over on the West Coast, a tornado flattened an old theatre in the northern township of Hector.

The storm arrived at the break of dawn and blanketed the countryside. Temperatures dived in the wintry blast to near freezing – a turnaround on yesterday’s 20degC highs.

Five-to-10cm of snow covered the Canterbury Foothills, falling as far south as Twizel and Tekapo, cutting short holiday-makers’ long weekend away.

One by one, caravans, campervans and boats joined the queue home, although one classic bike was left on the side of the road.

“We have just come back from Twizel on the old motorbike and been in the snow,” says motorcyclist Grant Jones. “I have just blown a head casket on her, so she is on the trailer now until home.”

While the roads remained clear of any snow, ewes and lambs picked their way through the icy crust.

“[We have] few lambing ewes and a few sorry looking lambs,” says farming student Hamish Forrester.

Over on the West Coast, there was not much left of an old Hector theatre and dancehall north of Westport – a tornado flattened it in the middle of the night.

But if Tourism New Zealand ever wanted the perfect promo, this was it – visitors say they loved seeing the snow in Tekapo.

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