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EASTER WEEKEND – PLAN AHEAD: Heading away for the long weekend? Check our holiday journeys tool(external link)

Winter has arrived in time for July school holidays


Winter has arrived. Be ready: ice, snow, fog and more rain is forecast from tomorrow, Tuesday, through to Thursday across most of the South Island.

“The ice event in Otago and Southland over the weekend highlighted the need for road users to be prepared for winter weather, which can be very unpredictable. Slow down, drive with care and patience, and you need to ask yourself, do you have to travel today?” asks NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright.

The Transport Agency uses a combination of CMA (calcium magnesium acetate, a coating which reduces ice) and grit on the roads during winter as ice controllers. Road users need to drive at slow speeds in these conditions.

“Allow for much greater braking distances and avoid braking suddenly,” says Ms Wright.

Black ice is hazardous due to the increased risk of losing control and the loss of traction. “Please take extra care on bridges and overpasses as black ice forms first on these surfaces making the road surface particularly hazardous.”


“With snow forecast by MetService, people need to ask if they need to travel through snow at all,” says Ms Wright. “If you do have to travel, be prepared for road restrictions, road closures, long delays and carry chains and know how to fit them, for your own safety and everyone else on the roads.”

Lewis Pass/ Alternate Route Picton to Christchurch change in highway management

Wing mirror

“Drivers using the alternate Picton to Christchurch route via St Arnaud and the Lewis Pass/ Murchison will need to allow extra time and patience.  A change has been made to the way the Lewis Pass, State Highway 7, will be managed over the winter months. It will either be ‘open’ or ‘closed’ rather than having the usual restrictions of ‘chains essential’ and ‘no towing’. Extra Police presence will be on the route over the winter months,” says Ms Wright.

Carrying chains and know how to fit them will still be required when travelling on other South Island roads, for example Arthur’s and Porters Passes (SH73), Haast Pass (SH6) Burkes and Lindis Pass (SH8), Milford Road (SH94) and State Highway 75 between Akaroa and Christchurch.

“Allow extra time when driving during winter as weather and road conditions can change in a relatively short period of time. Know before you go and check weather and road conditions when travelling.”

How to stay up to date

If you live in Queenstown Lakes District, or travel to and from Queenstown, sign up for QLDC’s winter road reports(external link).

Winter road

Simple rules for safe winter travelling

  • allow extra time
  • ensure your vehicle is safe for winter driving
  • drive to the road and weather conditions
  • slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards
  • allow greater following distance between you and the vehicle ahead
  • make sure your cell phone is well charged, check car charger also
  • have blankets, snacks, bottles of water ready in case of emergency or a breakdown.