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Snow-hit area faces 'weeks' without power

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/08/2016

Some properties in the snow-laden Taupo Plains face being without power for "a few weeks", lines company Unison says.

Spokesman Danny Gough says the company is looking at alternatives for those affected.

"Access continues to inhibit our restoration programme even getting underway, and we are uncovering more damage by foot, by 4WD, and by helicopter," he said.

"Based on this, and new damage becoming apparent by the day, we predict some customers could be without power for a few weeks."

About 40 locals attended a community meeting in Rangitaiki on Tuesday and Gough said they understood the extent of what Unison was facing.

"This is a massive restoration effort," he said.

"We are going to throw all we can at it, but the damage is severe and it will take time. We want to look at what alternatives are available with that in mind."

About 200 properties in the Taupo Plains are without power after a major dumping of snow at the weekend.

In rural Hawke's Bay, about 100 customers had had power restored, leaving about 100 still without.

State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupo is scheduled to remain open through to Wednesday morning, but the NZ Transport Agency has warned drivers to take extra care.

NZTA highway manager Wayne Oldfield said only those people who absolutely needed to should travel on the route after 5pm.

He said they should be prepared for the wintry conditions and that included being warmly dressed, having a full tank of fuel, and taking food and water.

Other routes in the central North Island where extra care is required include:

SH1 Desert Road - open but with winter driving conditions,

SH2 Tutira to Wairoa - debris from the weekend's storm and winter driving conditions,

SH2 Otoko to Matawai - ice and winter driving conditions,

SH2 Rimutaka Hill Road - winter driving conditions.

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