New Zealand Transport Agency is cautioning drivers ahead of the spring southerly blast that’s due to hit the country this week.
Snow is expected to fall on higher ground above 500 metres and is likely to affect State Highway 2 Rimutaka Hill Road, State Highway 1 Desert Road and State Highway 5 Napier to Taupo Road from Wednesday into Thursday onwards. Snow may also affect other roads around the Central Plateau mountains.
Strong winds are forecast for Wellington and the Wairarapa. The Desert Road may experience strong winds, which, combined with snow flurries, may contribute to blizzard-like conditions and poor visibility.
Clearing but continuing cold weather may bring icy conditions in these areas through the weekend.
Transport Agency highway manager Neil Walker commented: "The weather forecast indicates we’ve got some wild weather coming our way, and this could impact roads and driving conditions. As conditions can change rapidly, we advise people to check the latest weather and road updates before they start their journey.
“This means planning your journey, thinking about using alternative routes, or, if possible, delaying your travel until the weather is more settled.
“We’ll be keeping our website and social media channels updated as we know more about the impact to specific routes and roads, and strongly advise you use these resources to know before you go. We work hard to keep the network running and keep roads open for as long we can, however we anticipate that roads such as the Desert Road may need to be closed to keep motorists safe,” Mr Walker says. “As well as our online updates, our electronic signage on key routes will also let motorists know about current road status.
“We also advise motorists to ensure that they are well prepared, as road closures may lead to longer detour routes – make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel, warm clothes, food and water, and that your mobile phone is charged.”