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Power may be out for days after snow

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/08/2016
Snow on the Napier-Taupo highway. © SNPA Snow on the Napier-Taupo highway.

People may be without power for days in high country areas of northern Hawke's Bay after heavy snowfalls.

Unison Networks says an aerial patrol of the area on Sunday morning has revealed significant damage to infrastructure.

There are about 500 customers still without power, well down from the more than 60,000 on Saturday morning.

People are still without power in Tutira, Taupo Plains, Esk Valley, Puketitiri, Waipunga, and Patoka.

"We continue to advise these customers to prepare for prolonged periods following what appears to be extensive damage to the network after mother nature battered the rural and high country areas," says Danny Gough, Unison's relationship manager.

Eastland Network, which covers the East Coast, says it has restored power to most areas near Wairoa but people in Waiomatatini may have another night without power.

It warns the extreme weather is moving through Gisborne and up the East Coast, so other power cuts may happen during the day.

The problems with power supply on Saturday were caused by snow settling on the 220kV Wairakei-Whirinaki circuit between Taupo and Hawke's Bay, which is part of the national grid.

Bad weather warnings have been lifted in the central North Island, but several major highways remain closed after a big weekend dumping of the white stuff.

Metservice says snowfalls have eased in inland Hawke's Bay on Sunday morning and the warnings for that area and eastern Taihape and Taupo are no longer in place.

But both State Highway 1 through the Desert Road and the Napier-Taupo Road remain closed due to snow, while flooding has closed SH2 from Tutira to Wairoa.

It's been a cold start for many across the country, with temperature lows below -7C reported at Dunedin Airport, Lumsden and Fairlie.

While the skies are clearing, Metservice is warning that could mean severe frosts to many areas on Sunday night.

The ski areas on Mt Ruapehu are open on Sunday though one person asked on Facebook why staff were digging out a cafe when they could have been "de-icing a lift or two".

Mt Hutt, the large commercial ski area in Canterbury, again hit capacity. It had to close its road to uphill traffic on Sunday because the carparks at the top of the road are full.

"Skiing down and some kid skied across my path towards its mother. Tried to avoid kid hit it and then flew thro the air out of skis and landed in face. Too many people I'm done today," one skier wrote.

Both were fine.

Others wrote about awesome conditions on the mountain but frustrations with logistics as crowds headed to the snow.

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