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Power, roads cut after spring snow

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/10/2016

About 1800 homes are without power after snow and heavy rain fell over parts of the South Island - and more could be on the way.

Queenstown woke to about 3cm of the white stuff on Wednesday, while similar amounts of snow were also reported at Mt Cook and Fiordland. Up to 8cm fell over high areas of Makarora, near Wanaka.

Aurora Energy says about 1800 homes remain without electricity at Arrowtown, Dalefield, Lower Shotover and Lake Hayes as crews continue to clear fallen branches from lines. Power has been restored to Glenorchy, Gibbston Valley and Millbrook and other areas are expected to be reconnected in the coming hours.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says State Highway 8 between Omarama to Tarras - a major highway in the South Island - that was closed earlier on Wednesday has since reopened. Snow is continuing to fall over Haast Pass and motorists are being warned to expect flooding on the Otago side of SH6.

The only road into Milford Sound has been closed due to an avalanche risk.

Heavy rain also hit parts of the Canterbury high country, Otago and West Coast overnight.

The heaviest falls were recorded at Haast (116cm), Milford (143cm), Mt Cook (40cm) and Arthur's Pass (30cm). MetService meteorologist Derek Holland told NZ Newswire it isn't uncommon for spring snow in the south, saying the white stuff had arrived as late as December some years.

More rain and snow are forecast to hit the same areas on Thursday and Friday, he says.

A police spokeswoman says there have been no reports of major crashes or injuries due to the weather, but she warned anyone driving through the area to be extra cautious on the roads.

My window~😨😱 #🌨#❄️ #queenstown #nz

A photo posted by Jieun Tak (@spacemonster84) on

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