A heavy dump of snow carpeting Queenstown overnight has closed schools, ski fields and caused some traffic chaos.
However, it’s hugely boosted the snow base of the resort’s two ski areas which are now looking primed for the New Zealand school holidays from next week.
It’s the second heavy sustained dump after the first of the winter season overnight on Saturday.
Queenstown police acting sergeant Blair Duffy, speaking at 9am (Tuesday), urges people to use chains when driving.
Police were concentrating their efforts on at the bottom of Stanley Street heading into downtown Queenstown – and the intersection of Coronation Drive.
At one point earlier this morning (Tuesday), a delivery truck lost it coming down the steep street and “almost went through the front door of the Queenstown court house”. Another car was being towed out of the way at 9.15am.
Duffy says police are looking to head to Fernhill next to assess traffic there.
“We’re just lucky it’s been a mild morning and the freeze is starting to thaw. But drivers need to take their time, be courteous.”
Ski areas closed
Both Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski areas are closed today (Tuesday) due to severe weather conditions.
On the bright side, Coronet now has a snow base of 50cm to 60cm while The Remarkables has an average base of 35cm.
School’s out – sort of
Wakatipu High is closed for the day and it’s understood the rest of the Wakatipu’s primary schools are also shut – however, Arrowtown is having a delayed start of 10am.
MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt predicts the cold pool will lift this afternoon and the snow will start to melt tomorrow (Wednesday) – before the next snow dump is expected to hit the area on Thursday.
“This is just a passing cold pool and there will be another one on Thursday, so there’ll be two more periods of dumping snow…and then it should start to ease up and clear off for the start of the school holidays,” McDavitt forecasts.