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NZ shivers as snowy blast continues

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/08/2016

Blizzard conditions may not ease up in Hawke's Bay until Sunday afternoon or evening and may not clear other parts of the country until Monday.

More road closures are possible, so too are further power cuts, says.

The storm will move over East Cape and the Gisborne ranges before clearing overnight on Sunday and into Monday morning.

More than 60,000 customers in Unison's Hawke's Bay network were without power on Saturday morning as the "major snow event" arrived and more were affected in Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast.

The company restored power to most people but warned further cuts are possible.

Eastland Network general manager Brent Stewart said the power cuts were caused by snow settling on the 220kV Wairakei-Whirinaki circuit between Taupo and Hawke's Bay.

This is part of Transpower's national grid.

The Napier to Taupo road is not expected to open before midday on Sunday, and State Highway 1 from Rangipo to Waiouru, the Desert Road, is closed as is SH2 between Napier and Wairoa.

Police reported motorists largely heeded warnings to stay away from areas where big snow falls were likely.

People did travel to Wellington for the Super Rugby final between the Hurricanes and Lions at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

"Just arrived in Wgtn! Balmy, dry, calm. What a night for rugby! IT'S OUR YEAR (NB. Some of the weather information herein is untrue," media personality John Campbell tweeted.

MetService replied "I'm sure the weather inside the terminal was nice :-) Icy showers expected during the game."

It was minus 1C in parts of Wellington by early evening.

The polar plunge at Petone in Wellington was cancelled but a few people still took to the water, and other events in the Petone Winter Carnival continued.

It's possible snow will fall in Taupo on Saturday night but the "polar southerlies" are now also moving toward Auckland.

In the South Island there was snow on mountains and passes through them, including the Kaikoura hills and ranges.

Mt Hutt Ski Area in Canterbury said it snowed all day "giving us 29cm".

"Tomorrow's going to be THE day with the weather clearing up to reveal a mountain covered in snow."

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