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Winter journeys: Be Safe. Plan Ahead.


Winter has definitely arrived. Be ready, coming soon to our roads - ice, fog, more rain and snow.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Winter Journeys campaign(external link) aims to encourage drivers to be safe through planning ahead for an enjoyable winter driving experience.

Winter journey looking sideways

“Driving on parts of our highways during the winter months can be treacherous. Pre-planning is essential if drivers want to enjoy safe travel and avoid delays caused by road restrictions, road closures or vehicle breakdowns,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright. 

“Drivers using the alternate Picton to Christchurch route via St Arnaud and the Lewis Pass/ Murchison will need to allow extra time and patience.  A change has been made to the way the Lewis Pass, SH7, will be managed over the winter months. It will either be ‘open’ or ‘closed’ rather than having the usual restrictions of ‘chains essential’ and ‘no towing’. Extra Police presence will be on the route over the winter months.”

Carrying chains and know how to fit them will still be required when travelling on other South Island roads, for example Arthur’s and Porters Passes (SH73),  Haast Pass (SH6) Burkes and Lindis Pass (SH8), Milford Road (SH94) and many other state highways throughout Otago and Southland.

“To assist us in promoting the ‘Be Safe and Plan Ahead’ message, our contractors will be handing out Winter Journeys ice scrapers and windscreen cloths over the winter months,” says Ms Wright.

Preplanning involves making sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving and stocked with food, water and blankets in case of any delays.

“Allow extra time when driving during winter as weather and road conditions can change in a relatively short period of time. Know before you go and check weather and road conditions when travelling.

“Extreme weather conditions such as ice, snow, fog as well as wet weather can hit quickly so people need to be prepared.”

Winter scene in the South Island

How to stay up to date

Simple rules for safe winter travelling

  • allow extra time
  • ensure your vehicle is safe for winter driving 
  • drive to the road and weather conditions
  • slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards
  • allow greater following distance between you and the vehicle ahead
  • make sure your cell phone is well charged, check car charger also
  • have blankets, snacks, bottles of water ready in case of emergency or a breakdown.