Snow will be welcome news for skiers, especially those heading to the Tūroa and Whakapapa ski fields operated by embattled company Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, where the season begins today.
The school holidays are off to a cold start with a polar blast bringing gales and heavy rain for the north and snow in the south.
MetService issued strong wind watches for Northland and Hawke’s Bay to Tararua, and heavy snow watches for Otago, Fiordland and Southland.
In Auckland, heavy rain continues to fall after earlier hail storms. And lightning has been recorded around the central business district.
The National Emergency Management Agency has also alerted people to a severe thunderstorm warning in force for Kaipara, Far North and Whangarei.
“Stay safe out there folks – follow MetService and your local Civil Defence group for the latest info.”
But there is some welcome news for skiers, especially those heading to the Tūroa and Whakapapa ski fields operated by embattled company Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, where the season begins on Saturday.
The Desert Rd was tipped to see 2-4 centimetres of snow settle overnight, triggering a road snowfall warning there, as well as for the Lewis Pass, Arthurs Pass, Haast Pass, Lindis Pass, Crown Range Rd and Milford Rd.
Auckland, meanwhile, is tipped for a high of 15C and showers for Saturday and Sunday. MetService forecast those showers to be heavy tomorrow morning to become isolated Sunday evening.
Rain is likely to continue into Monday before cloudy conditions take over on Tuesday, lasting for much of the week.
Wellington is set to hit 12C over the weekend, with the odd shower in the evenings. Strong northwesterly gusts are expected today, turning to southerlies on Sunday afternoon.
The Garden City will dip to -2C on Sunday, only reaching a 10C high on Saturday. Cantabrians wake to a frost this morning with showers likely this evening and strong southwesterlies in exposed places.
In Hawke’s Bay south of Hastings and the Tararua District, a strong wind watch is in place from 8pm Saturday until 5am Sunday.
Northland’s wind watch is set to lapse at midnight.
A heavy snow watch is in place for Otago, south from Queenstown, Alexandra and Mosgiel, also Southland and Stewart Island, from 2pm Saturday until 5am Monday.
Periods of heavy snow are possible there above 300 metres and it could fall down to 100m. Fiordland is under a watch from 9am Saturday until 1am Monday.
Snow had already begun to fall on Mt Ruapehu before this weekend and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive Jono Dean said they’d spent time getting prepped for Saturday.
“We’re back and ready to host an epic winter of good times on both sides of the maunga,” Dean said.
“I’m so proud of our crew who have continued to put in the hard mahi during an extraordinary period for RAL, and we cannot wait to share the treats with all our loyal supporters, skiers, and riders later in July.”
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.