Otago school stays open despite icy blast

A polar blast sweeping across the country is bringing sub-zero temperatures, freezing winds and snow.

In the midst of it all, that didn't stop one school from opening in the Maniototo Valley, Otago.

The Poolburn School bus only missed the bell by an hour, says driver Steve Aldridge.

"The back roads are a bit iffy so we've not done that today, but we will certainly go up and down the main road without any trouble."

It's rare for the small school to close, as principal Sarah Read can testify.

"It's just another day, this is the weather out here. We live in paradise and we just get on with it."

The roll of 38 was treated to some country comforts city kids just don't have, like a roaring fire in the classrooms.

"It's lovely and warm, we've got two fires and heat pumps so we keep nice and toasty," says Ms Read.

Grit trucks worked their magic, keeping all but six highways open for tourists and contractors. Snow landing on the tar-seal made conditions treacherous.

There were plenty of warnings across the South Island for travellers as snow fell on and off throughout the day, and with temperatures expected to plummet overnight there may well be more frosts and black ice in the morning.