South Island road advice: southerly storm, high winds, snow – afternoon update


Snow is continuing to fall across the South Island this afternoon, keeping the two main routes between the West Coast and Canterbury closed and roading contractors busy gritting roads through places like the Buller Gorge (SH6).

“Conditions are changing so please check before you leave home,” says the Transport Agency’s Southern Region Journey Manager Tresca Forrester. “Check the map(external link) for updates on highway closures.”

Two alpine passes closed

Both Arthur’s Pass/ Otira (SH73) and the Lewis Pass (SH7) remain closed with updates at 3 pm for Lewis Pass and 4 pm for Arthur’s. Roading contractors describe conditions on the Lewis Pass, between Hanmer turnoff and Springs Junction as a “white-out.” Snow may continue on the Lewis Pass until 9 pm tonight, says MetService.

The Porters Pass to Springfield highway (Canterbury side of SH73) closed just after 1 pm today with a 4 pm update. MetService is forecasting snow continuing to fall until the early evening.

On the West Coast side of SH7 between Rahu Saddle/ Reefton and Springs Junction, conditions eased around 1 pm today and restrictions (on towing vehicles and need for chains) were lifted.

Milford Road open

A landslip, caused by rain and wet conditions, damaged a building at Milford Sound this morning. This has not affected State Highway 94, which has been open today after an overnight closure due to snow.

West Coast/Canterbury road conditions update as at 1.30 pm

SH6 Haast: Snow has been falling since 8.00 am but is not settling on the road.

SH73: Arthur’s Pass to Otira: Closed due to snow/ice. Forecast indicates that snow is expected to continue to fall this afternoon. Also snowing at Jacksons on the West Coast.

SH7: Rahu Saddle/ Reefton – Restrictions lifted after 1 pm today.

SH7: Lewis Pass, Canterbury side Hanmer turnoff to Springs Junction – Closed. Blizzard conditions with no visibility. Snow still falling.

SH6: Buller George (The Lyell). Snowing this morning, grit being applied with contractors monitoring road, which remains open.

Kaikoura high tide passed, no incidents

The high tide passed along the Kaikoura coast around 10 am today with no incidents reported.

The following warnings & road closures are in place

SH73 Arthurs Pass to Otira -Ice- Road closed due to ice - next update 4 pm.

SH73 Springfield to Arthurs Pass (Porters Pass) - Snow - Road closed – next update 4 pm.

SH7 Hanmer Turnoff to Springs Junction (Lewis Pass) - Snow - road closed, update 3 pm today.

SH8 Cromwell to Omarama (Lindis Pass) – Snow and ice – care is required, especially drivers of high-sided vehicles and motorcyclists.

Strong wind warnings: high-sided vehicle drivers and motorcyclists need to take special care and slow down on these highways:

  • SH8 Alexandra to Roxburgh

  • SH1 Timaru to Glenavy

  • SH80 - Twizel to Mt Cook (Mt Cook Highway)

  • SH8 Timaru to Omarama

  • SH8 Cromwell to Omarama (Lindis Pass)

Queenstown Lakes

Queenstown Lakes District road conditions here.(external link) 

Further information

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(external link)

(external link)Otago Southland Transport Agency Twitter updates(external link)

Transport Agency Facebook South Island(external link) 

Call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS 0800 44 44 49