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Road snowfall warnings bring safer journeys to more South Island highways

The NZ Transport Agency has announced that the Haast Pass (State highway 6) and the Dunedin to Waitati Highway/Dunedin Northern Motorway (State highway 1) now have their own MetService Road Snowfall Warnings.

These two important South Island transport links are both vulnerable to extreme winter weather and travel disruptions.

The new forecasts are the latest additions to a Road Snowfall Warnings service that includes the Napier-Taupo Highway (State highway 5), added in April 2015, and existing forecasts for the Desert Road, Porters Pass Road, Lindis Pass Road, Rimutaka Hill Road, Milford Road and New Zealand’s two alpine passes, Arthur's Pass and Lewis Pass.

MetService Road Snowfall Warnings are issued when there is a likelihood of snow settling on one or more of these roads. The lead time for these warnings is typically between 48-24 hours. MetService issues these warnings as part of its public safety forecasting role, and they receive coverage across a full range of media including major TV and radio networks, newspapers, email, social media and MetService’s own extremely popular website: metservice.com(external link)

The probability of snow is predicted by MetService’s Specialist Weather Services team, comprising its most experienced meteorologists, using atmospheric models and observational data as well as sophisticated snow forecasting techniques recently developed in-house.

Graeme Hall, NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Otago/Southland commented, “Adding the Haast Pass and SH1 from Dunedin to Waitati to the Road Snowfall Warning system will provide road users with greater guidance and certainty in planning their journey when severe winter weather is looming.

“It also recognises the greater demand for route information from visitor drivers and commercial businesses. We know from their feedback that they need this information when adverse weather conditions are predicted,” he said.

Mr Hall says this move also helps address road user requests for better and more detailed road disruption warnings during snow and ice events. Additionally, it is the starting point for monitoring and providing more web-based traveller information.

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