Avalanche alerts as snow closes roads, delays flights
Update 11.20am: The Lindis Pass from Omarama to Twizel is now open, with Waka Kotahi telling motorists to drive with care due to ice and grit. Traffic is now flowing along Ladies Mile, but the Queenstown Lakes District Council says there's still snow on some roads across the district and carrying of chains is advised, with travel to be avoided where possible.
Snow has been falling heavily in parts of Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago this morning, with some main roads closed around the region, including over the Lindis Pass and Crown Range and into Milford Sound.
It is also a slow run for commuters heading into Queenstown and Frankton, with traffic bumper to bumper along Ladies Mile.
Meanwhile, ski fields are celebrating the decent dump of snow, after weeks of shifting artificially-made snow to keep trails packed.
Cardrona says its ski field is closed today because of blizzard conditions, high winds and low visibility.
But the storm has delivered 35 centimetres of snow in just 24 hours.
"Our road crew, patrol and grooming team are out making sure it will be ready to rock and roll when we can open," the resort posted to Facebook earlier this morning.
The Avalanche Advisory has issued its second highest danger warning for multiple South Island alpine ranges.
Warnings for very dangerous avalanche conditions are in place for Queenstown, Wānaka, Mount Aspiring, Fiordland, Aoraki/Mount Cook, and Arthur's Pass, where people are advised to avoid the backcountry until conditions settle.
Also close to home, considerable avalanche hazard warnings have been issued for Ohau, and moderate danger warnings for Craigieburn Range and Two Thumbs.
Queenstown Airport says the snowfall is causing some flight delays, and passengers should check the airport's website for the latest arrivals and departures information.
Pockets of the South Island experienced strong wind gusts over night, with a top speed of 146 kilometres an hour recorded in Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.
Roading crews have been working to clear and grit roads throughout Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago, but motorists are advised to look online for the latest updates before heading out.
Keep in the loop of changing road conditions by signing up for the Queenstown Lakes District Council's free community text alerts for your location at www.qldc.govt.nz/text-alerts.
Waka Kotahi's live highway conditions map, www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/highway-conditions, will be updated with all major developments as they are received.
Main image: A slow, snowy commute on Queenstown's Ladies Mile, State Highway Six, this morning, Wednesday, August 2, 2023.