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More extreme weather expected for the South Island

Published: 9:17AM Friday June 21, 2013 Source: ONE News

Civil Defence is warning of more snow, high winds and low temperatures in Canterbury over the weekend.

Latest forecasts advise snow is expected to return overnight and early tomorrow morning, turning to rain showers in the afternoon.

South westerly winds are expected and temperatures will remain very cold.

Snowfall in the region resulted in major power cuts and road closures.

"Further snowfalls are likely to prolong disruption to travellers, especially about higher roads and alpine passes in the South Island and central North Island," MetService said.

Road closures

While some Southern Alpine passes have been reopened, those deeper south will likely be closed again overnight.

The freezing temperatures and heavy snow falls saw the closure of all six South Island alpine passes last night.

The NZTA says the Lewis Pass closed.  However Cromwell to Alexandra is open.

Alexandra to Roxburgh (SH8) is currently open but may close this evening due to icy conditions.

Ranfurly to Kyeburn is currently closed. Ranfurly to Ida Valley Junction  is open and the Ida Valley loop is open to 4WD with chains.
 
Alexandra to Omakau is open but a detour is in place from Omakau around the loop.

Extreme caution is to be taken on the Ida Valley-Omakau Road.

Motorists are advised if they have to travel to carry chains and fit them when needed.

Click here for all the latest South Island road information.

Whitewashed farms
 
Tekapo in the Mackenzie Country has been hit hard by snow today and farmers have spent a second day feeding hungry and cold stock.

They say so far they are coping.

"When we got the snow warning we made sure we had them close so we can feed them - the cows are still in the backhill but we will get to them today or tomorrow," farmer Alastair Munro told ONE News.

"You take notice of the weather forecast, they do get it wrong but if you are given a warning you heed it," he said.

Many communities in the region are still without power, while many roads remain closed.

Forecaster estimate conditions to remain treacherous for at least another 24 hours.

Flight cancellations

While Christchurch Airport remains open, some flights have been cancelled or delayed due to weather conditions in other centres.

Air New Zealand jet services are continuing to operate from Christchurch, however, some regional Link services have been cancelled.

In addition, all Air New Zealand operations into and out of Dunedin are suspended, while Air New Zealand jet services out of Queenstown are continuing to operate.

However, Mt Cook services into and out of Queenstown have been cancelled until 11.30am, and the situation remains under review.

Winterfest

The bad weather has prevented hundreds of travellers from getting into Queenstown for the town's biggest night of the year, the opening of the annual Winter Festival.

Around 45,000 people are expected in Queenstown for Winterfest, minus the unlucky ones whose travel plans have been scuppered by the weather.

"We're open for business, our runway's open and clear we're just restricted by visibility," says Queenstown Airport Chief Executive Scott Paterson.

Two of musician Dave Dobbyn's co-performers very nearly fell victim to the weather as well.

"(They) got stuck in Lumsden where everything closed down, so phone calls left, right and centre and out goes the chopper, yeah, Led Zeppelin style," Dobbyn joked.

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