The snowfalls, combined with ice, had produced treacherous driving conditions throughout the South Island and on the North Island’s central plateau. Compounding the snow, strong winds were expected to lash the South Island today.
Acting shift commander Mark Oliver from Police central communications said snow had blanketed the central plateau today and could close the State Highway One route at any moment tonight.
With snow forecast to fall through tonight, police were warning drivers to take extreme caution and monitor AA and NZTA websites for closures.
Snow had fallen to near sea level in some areas, including Fiordland and Southland, and about 200m in Buller and Westland. In Clutha, Southland and Fiordland another 10 to 15cm of snow could fall throughout the day.
Snow was falling above 400m in the western parts of Nelson and in inland Southland above 200m, the MetService said.
A further brief burst of snow had been expected in Buller, with another 10cm accumulating above 400m.
Snow was also forecast above 700m in Taumarunui, Taihape, Whanganui and Manawatu in the central North Island.
In the past 24 hours, Mount Ruapehu’s Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields had received a dumping of snow between 30 and 41cm, respectively. Both ski fields were closed today.
(This was last night)