Live updates: Winter white-out whips around country

Wild weather is setting in around the country with rain, frosts, snow and cold temperatures expected for the rest of the week.

Follow our live updates below as the wintry blast hits.

What to expect

  • Bitterly cold southerlies are expected right across the country, with wind chill and heavy rain cause for concern
  • "High impact severe weather" is expected from Wednesday through to Friday
  • The cold front is expected to bring significant snow above 200m across many parts of the South Island
  • Heavy snow expected above 500m across mountains and high country areas
  • "Wet, miserable [and] cold" in the south and east of the South Island according to MetService
  • Authorities warning drivers to check for black ice on the roads in the mornings
  • West Coast and North Island also expecting heavy rain and snow in the central plateau as the system moves north throughout the week

4:20pm: Lindis Pass closed due to snow

Snow has forced the closure of parts of Lindis Pass on State Highway 8 between Omarama to Tarras on Tuesday afternoon.

An earlier crash on State Highway 8 between Fairlie and Tekapo closed the road for some time but authorities have kept the road closed because of the heavy snowfall in the area. 

3:40pm: Winter white-out makes way up the country

Snow is sweeping up the country with Tekapo in central Canterbury hit by a blizzard of snow on Tuesday afternoon.

Newshub's Annabelle Tukia is in Tekapo and said the weather conditions changed dramatically as the front moved up the main divide.

Tekapo, Snow
Snow came out of nowhere in Tekapo. Photo credit: Annabelle Tukia/ Newshub

1:57pm: Snow closes roads in central Otago

Some roads in Oturehua, St Bathans and Danseys Pass in central Otago have been blanketed by snow forcing closures.

The Central Otago District Council has advised motorists to avoid driving in the area unless absolutely necessary.

State Highway 85 between Becks and Wedderburn is also closed.

Snow, Otago
Snow has blanketed central Otago. Photo credit: Central Otago District Council

1:00pm: Forecast overnight temperatures

A majority of the South Island will be in for below 0degC temperatures overnight on Tuesday as the winter bite sets in:

  • Gore -1degC
  • Alexandra -5degC
  • Queenstown -4degC
  • Milford Sound 0degC
  • Wanaka -4degC
  • Timaru -1degC
  • Ashburton 0degC
  • Mt Cook -5degC
  • Reefton 0degC
  • Blenheim 0degC

12:10pm: Snow rolls in to central Otago ski fields

As the South Island heads into a southerly blast, chains are being fitted to vehicles on the Crown Range near Queenstown.

Crown Range, Snow
Drivers have been fitting chains on the Crown Range. Photo credit: Newshub

A Cardrona ski field spokesperson also told Newshub the snow's already down to about 400 metres there and in the Wakatipu Basin.

Snow has also been falling at Cardrona.
Snow has also been falling at Cardrona. Photo credit: Supplied

11:48am: Cook Strait ferry crossings to be cancelled from Wednesday night

Sailings of the Interislander ferries have been cancelled from Wednesday night because of predicted severe weather in Cook Strait, with up to 7-metre-high waves forecast through till Friday morning.

The last ferry to sail from Wellington will leave at 5pm on Wednesday, while the last sailing from Picton will depart at 6.45pm.

 “We regret the inconvenience to our customers. We are always striving to deliver the best possible service, but safety is paramount,” Interislander General Manager Operations Mark Thompson says.

11:30am: Road warnings

Some State Highways have warnings in place ahead of the wintery conditions.

  • Arthurs Pass SH73 - Snow is likely to affect the road from this afternoon till around midnight tonight (Tuesday). From noon until midnight today, 2 to 5cm of snow could accumulate about higher parts of the road.
  • Lewis Pass SH7 - Snow is expected to affect the road this afternoon till Wednesday morning. From 3pm Tuesday till 9am Wednesday, 2 to 5cm of snow could accumulate near the summit.
  • Porters Pass SH73 - Snow is forecast to affect the road from this afternoon through to Tuesday morning. From 6pm today till Thursday morning, 20 to 30cm of snow could accumulate near the summit during several periods of snow, possibly even more.
  • Lindis Pass SH8 - Periods of snow are forecast from today until Thursday morning. Snow is not expected to be continuous, but 3 to 5cm of snow could settle on the road from time to time.
  • Haast Pass SH6 - Snow is expected to briefly affect higher parts of the road today. From 10am till 6pm today, 2 to 4cm of snow could accumulate near the summit.
  • Milford Rd SH94 - A few snow showers are possible south of Lake Gunn through to Thursday morning, and 1 to 2cm of snow may settle on this part of the road at times.
  • Dunedin to Waitati Highway SH1 - Snow showers are expected to affect the summit of the road at times till Thursday morning. From 3pm Tuesday till 6am Thursday 2 to 5cm could accumulate from time to time, especially on Wednesday.

10:50am: Forecast snow dump brings excitement to ski fields

From Mt Ruapehu to Cardrona, snow has been sprinkling the mountains boosting the snow stocks are the right time.

Mt Ruapehu, Snow
Mt Ruapehu is looking forward to more snow. Photo credit: Supplied

"We're stoked to see some decent snow falling with more in the forecast this week," Mt Ruapehu's Matt McIver says.

"After talking to our patrollers, there looks to be a solid front hitting us from Wednesday, which could bring us between 30-50cm of fresh snow down to low levels, possibly even more."

Airport disruptions

Transport chaos is expected across the country this week as the worst winter weather of the year sweeps the country, bringing snow, icy gales and fog.

On Tuesday morning, the weather caused delays in Queenstown and Wellington airports. While the ice caused disruptions in Queenstown, it was a thick blanket of fog that kept flights grounded in Wellington.

Wellington, Fog
Fog in Wellington on Tuesday morning. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/ Newshub

Wellington Airport has since resumed flights but are advising some delays.