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Heavy snow closes roads in New Zealand

Staff Writer |
Snow has blanketed parts of the South Island and the central North Island overnight, closing both the Desert Road and Crown Range Road.

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The Desert Road has been closed this morning between Waiouru and Rangipo due to snow and ice.

Crown Range Road in the Queenstown Lakes District has also been closed due to snow, which has continued to fall in the area.

A council spokesperson said crews were doing their best to get the roads clear, but they will be focusing on the main routes first.

The spokesperson said the basic rule of thumb was that if the road was white people needed chains, if it was black people needed to go slow.

A heavy snow warning was currently in place for Fiordland, Westland south of Haast, Southland north of Mavora Lakes and western Otago ranges south of Mount Aspiring.

Damage to trees and powerlines was also expected.

The road closures come after a cold night with temperatures hitting as low as -2.3°C in Timaru and - 3°C near Pukaki.

MetService meteorologist Tom Bell said there are a few more cold nights on the cards due to a south-west flow over the country.

"The cold will continue through the next few days and into the weekend."

Mr Bell said a heavy snow warning remains in place tonight and that the snow - 20cm to 40cm - was expected above 400m in southern parts of the country.

Higher parts of the South Island would be most affected by the colder temperatures, he said.

However, Mr Bell said next week should be a lot drier with less rainfall.

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