Desert Road motorists told to expect snow, take care


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is encouraging motorists to expect snow, wind and ice on the Desert Road overnight and into tomorrow.

Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says the Metservice is forecasting a front this evening to bring snow to the summit of the road, with continued snowfall seeing snow continue to accumulate along the Desert Road through until 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday 29 September). Winds are also expected to pick-up later today, with west or north-westerly gusts of 90-100 km/h forecast between 3pm today and midday tomorrow.

“With additional traffic on the roads due to the school holidays, motorists are asked to take care. We encourage drivers to be prepared for winter driving conditions, despite the move to spring earlier this month.

“Road closures are likely. Plan ahead, allow extra time for your journeys and drive to the road and weather conditions. Maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front, slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.

“High sided vehicles and motorcycles should take particular care in strong winds.”

Other state highways in the Central Plateau may also be affected.

Ms Lauder says motorists can prepare by ensuring their vehicles are safe, roadworthy and well equipped.

“Make sure you have a safe spare tyre, your lights, brakes and windscreen-wipers are all working, and you have a clean windscreen inside and out. Ensure your cell phone is well charged and carry a car phone charger or power bank. Blankets, snacks and bottles of water are also a good idea, in case of an emergency or breakdown.”

Motorists can visit the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner website for up to date information on road closures, detours, road works, traffic and delays.

Journey planner(external link)

Easy tips for safe driving in winter conditions

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use the Journey planner or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
  • Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness up-to-date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out, check tyre treads to ensure good grip.
  • If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.
  • Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.
  • Driving on roads that are exposed to snow and ice can be treacherous, so slow down and drive to the conditions, not the allowable/legal speed limit. Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Be prepared when travelling in case of delays on the road, particularly in alpine conditions. Make sure you have warm clothes/food/water/charged mobile phone. In an emergency, phone 111. Bear in mind some parts of the highway have no cell coverage.
  • Learn about winter driving, including how to get your vehicle ready and if you are driving in an area where chains may be needed, practise putting them on before you go so you are not caught out. 

Winter driving tips 

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with: