South Island road advice: snow, sea swells, high winds


As a southerly snap with snow and high winds travels up the country today and tomorrow, motorists need to drive prepared, says the NZ Transport Agency. “Carry chains on all alpine passes as a precaution,” says NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Tresca Forrester.

Coastal swells and high winds

The West Coast of the South Island has had coastal swells in the past day and there are also swells of up to four metres forecastfor the Kaikoura Coast. High tides are around 9.00am and 9.00pm, then an hour later on Thursday.

MetService says that southerly gusts could reach 120km/h in coastal areas from eastern Southland to the Otago Peninsula this afternoon.

For Banks Peninsula, there may be gusts of 120km/h from late Wednesday afternoon, and for Kaikoura Peninsula from Wednesday evening.

The Transport Agency’s contracting teams will be keeping an eye on areas prone to sea swells for everyone’s safety. Check the Traffic pages(external link) on the Transport Agency’s webpages for updates on all highways.

Arthurs Pass/ Porters Pass/ Darfield, State Highway 73 – snow

For Arthurs Pass, SH73, up to 10pm tonight, 5 to 10cm of snow could accumulate near the summit, says MetService. At Porters Pass near Darfield, 10-15cm of snow could accumulate on the road above 400 metres with heaviest falls on Thursday. Winds have dropped since earlier today.

Drivers between the West Coast and Canterbury on Porters Pass/ Arthurs Pass should carry chains as a precaution. Keep your speed down and carry extra food in case there are delays, says Ms Forrester.

Lewis Pass, State Highway 7

Between this afternoon and midnight Wednesday, 2 to 3cm of snow may accumulate on the road above 600 metres with up to 15cm tomorrow/ Thursday. Drivers should carry chains for this route.

Lindis Pass, State Highway 8

Snow showers are expected above 600 metres until late today and up to 5cm of snow near the summit.

Te Anau/ Milford Sound, State Highway 94

This route is currently open with the avalanche warning low, however, please check the Transport Agency’s updates for Southland(external link) as the situation changes reasonably fast.

Dunedin, State Highway 1

Check this traffic camera(external link) for the current conditions on the Dunedin to Waitati highway at Leith Saddle. Currently the road is clear with blue skies. A small amount of snow is expected – 1 to 2cm. De-icing compound will be applied if it freezes overnight. link)

Kyeburn to Outram, Otago, State Highway 87 – windy

Strong winds are affecting this road - drivers of high sided vehicles and motorcyclists need to take extra care.

Queenstown Lakes District

Snow fell on the Crown Range near Queenstown earlier today although an earlier advice that chains were essential is no longer in place. The alternative route is via Cromwell and State Highway 6. Queenstown Lakes District road conditions here.(external link)

See the NZ Transport Agency's travel and traffic page here.(external link)

MetService snow warnings here.(external link)

MetService severe weather warnings here(external link).

Canterbury West Coast Transport Agency Twitter updates link)

Otago Southland Transport Agency Twitter updates link)

Transport Agency Facebook South Island link)

Call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS 0800 44 44 49