Authorities are warning of travel disruptions and damage to power lines in the Canterbury resort town of Hanmer Springs as heavy snow blanketed the South Island today.
The heaviest snowfall is expected in northern Canterbury and southern Marlborough as temperatures plummeted to single digits.
Meanwhile, significant snowfall has forced some of the South Island’s main arterial routes closed, with more on the way.
State Highway 8, Burkes Pass, from Lake Pukaki to Tekapo, has been closed until further notice, with snow and icy conditions prompting Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to block it off.
However, as the South Island and lower North Island landscape morphs into a winter wonderland, the weather conditions are likely to cause headaches for commuters.
MetService has issued a swarm of heavy wind and snow warnings, with North Canterbury up through to Marlborough and Taihape faced with a heavy snow warning.
Three major passes have now been shut off as Burkes Pass, SH8, joins Lewis Pass, SH7, and Porters Pass, SH73.
SH94, Milford Road, remains open at this stage but motorists should adjust their driving to suit the conditions.
There is also a heavy snow watch for Nelson and South Canterbury.
The snow is also expected to spread across the North Island, with a warning already in place for Desert Road.
Strong winds have been forecast in Wellington and the Wairarapa, with gusts approaching up to 120km/h.
The Cook Strait ferry has also been cancelled, and the authorities will remain on high alert tonight.
Residents in the affected areas have been advised to stay indoors if possible and to drive to the conditions.
For more information on road closures see the MetService website .