Motorists are being warned to take more care on roads in New
Zealand's deep south as an icy blast lingers.
Roads and schools closed today and power has been cut to more than 1000 homes.
The eastern parts of Southland, between Clinton and Mataura, are bearing the brunt of the big chill, as the deep south was blanketed with snow and ice for a second straight day.
Check out pictures of today's wild weather here
Cars were abandoned, a number crashed, and some highways were closed altogether, with graders brought in to clear the snow from them.
Many schools and businesses did not open until 10am, while some stayed closed altogether.
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In the hardest hit area between Clinton and Mataura, streams froze over as farmers dug deep into their supplies of feed for stock.
Farmers are hoping today's snow is a good omen for spring.
"It's been a while since we had decent lambing or calving so hopefully this is getting it out of the way early," said Scott Walker, a Clinton farmer.
The sheer weight of snow has overwhelmed a number of powerlines across the region, leaving 1700 homes without power overnight in temperatures below freezing.
The safest way to get anywhere in Dunedin first thing this morning was on foot, black ice causing 10 crashes and set to create more havoc overnight, prompting a simple warning.
"Don't be crazy, drive to the conditions, not too fast," said Eli Timaloa, a grader driver.
Several inland Otago-Southland highways are open again after being closed overnight by the wintry blast.
New Zealand Transport Agency contractors working to clear highways in the region have been helped by rain that has melted away snow.
A number of the highways that have re-opened have restrictions in place.
More details plus the latest highway information can be found at NZTA highway info .
Ice and gales tipped
Snow warnings have now been lifted in eastern Otago and Southland.
ONE News weather expert Jim Hickey says snowfalls are diminishing and just a few flurries above 400 metres can be expected, "with maybe just a flick across the high Dunedin hills".
So the risk of compacted snow becoming icy and roads treacherous remains, Hickey warned.
"With school holidays coming up the picture is improving, but fine weather over frozen ground brings the frosts."
MetService says severe west to southwest gales will now be developing in the southeast of the South Island and in central Hawke's Bay and the Tararua district.
In the North Island, State Highway One at the Desert Road is at
risk of closing again this evening as the freezing weather
continues to bite.
Snow closed the road between Taihape and Waiouru overnight last night.
Snow graders worked to clear the snow as traffic backed up. Driving conditions were treacherous and gale force winds made them worse.
The Desert Road reopened this morning, but more snow showers are expected in the area with two to four centimetres accumulating by 9pm tonight.
Both the Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields were also closed today, with the access roads to them too dangerous to travel over.
Meanwhile, the West Coast town of Reefton has had its biggest snowfall in half a century.
About 20 centimetres of snow has fallen on the town since last
It has forced the closure of one local primary school, while many students at other schools stayed at home as buses were not running.
But local weather forecaster Tony Fortune says the biggest snow-dumping since 1961 has caused great excitement.
Check the forecast for your area here