Snow/ice update for the lower South Island and Canterbury


People driving around Southland, Otago and Canterbury in the coming two days need to be ready for some changeable and snowy winter weather, says Nicole Felts, Journey Manager for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in Southland and Otago.

“Slow down and be ready for ice in shady spots and on bridge decks, and try to avoid sharp braking,” she says. “Waka Kotahi crews will be busy gritting places which get icy, applying de-icing compound and clearing any snow as quickly as they can. If in doubt we will close highways until they are safe to use so please check our highway map(external link) before you set off.”

People should avoid driving at night if possible.

Monday night’s conditions have eased across Otago and Southland 

Snow and ice warnings inland from Dunedin, Kyeburn to Outram (SH87) and Palmerston to Kyeburn (SH85) were in place Monday evening and overnight. Conditions for SH93 Mataura to Clinton, eased late morning today (Tuesday). Photo below taken at 10.40 am Tuesday on SH93:

There is a MetService heavy snow watch in place for Otago south of Queenstown through to Mosgiel, also Fiordland and Southland.

MetService(external link)

Milford Sound/Piopiotahi highway (SH94)

The Milford Alliance Team advise that there will be snow from Knobs Flat to The Chasm, Tuesday through to Thursday afternoon. Drivers need to watch for snow clearing equipment during daylight hours. While no road closures are expected over this period, based on the current forecast, short road restrictions might occur early Wednesday during heavier snow.

Canterbury north of Arthur’s Pass, Marlborough and Nelson Lakes Forest Park – Wednesday evening into Thursday

An Orange heavy snow warning is in place from 6 pm Wednesday night to 8 am Thursday for this upper South Island high country area.

MetService is predicting 20-30cm of snow above 300 metres and smaller amounts down to 100 metres. The Hundalees north of Cheviot on SH1 could also catch some snow, says Waka Kotahi. Care will be needed along the Kaikōura Coast.

The Buller District into Tasman also has a heavy snow watch in place from later on Wednesday into early Thursday.

Arthurs Pass (SH73) may also get more snow Wednesday night.


There are simple things we can all do to help keep everyone on the roads safe, says Miss Felts:

  • Drive slower than you normally would – it only takes a split second to lose control in wet or icy conditions.
  • Avoid sudden braking or turning movements that could cause you to skid.
  • For vehicles without anti-skid braking systems, to avoid skidding or sliding, smoothly pump the brake pedal in short bursts rather than pressing long and hard.
  • Drive at a safe travelling distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. In winter, double the two-second rule and leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped.
  • Makes sure everyone is wearing their seat belt throughout the full journey.