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Snow brings chaos to south

Published: 7:13PM Thursday June 21, 2007 Source: One News

The polar blast moving up the South Island has claimed one life as heavy snow made roads treacherous.

A 20-year-old Otago woman died when the van she was in plunged into Lake Wanaka on a day when winter struck with full force and the far south was coated in snow.

Queenstown may be an alpine resort in winter, but the snow dump took plenty of people by surprise.

Cars got into trouble and schools around the district were thrown into chaos.

"The buses aren't running and the roads are pretty much impassable so we've got all the kids in classes, hanging out," says John Western from Queenstown Primary School.

"The heaters are on and it's the safest place for everyone."

Some parents had to wait for snow ploughs and grit trucks to get through."

"There have been some anxious parents and some anxious children as well," says Western.

"We've really noticed that some of the little ones have got quite worked up, so teachers need to stay nice and calm.

"We've got a heavy snow warning out for Otago and Southland, maybe even to low levels," says Bob McDavitt from Met Service.

"They're taking the brunt of the polar chilled air."

But that is music to the ears of the organisers of Queenstown's Winter Festival.

"This is fantastic, everything we could have asked for," says festival organiser Simon Green. "It's Winter Festival and its snowing...what else do we need?"

The closure of the airport has been an inconvenience.

"It does make life a bit more dificult but I can't complain," says Green.

Weather experts say the cold snap is far from over.

"Watch the wind chill factor everybody because it's going to feel freezing, even if it isn't freezing," says McDavitt.

For up to date weather information for your region head to the weather page.

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