Winter has arrived

While cold, wet and windy weather hit parts of the North Island today, snow fell on South Island mountains. The Remarkables ski area in Queenstown had about 1 metre of snow at the top. Freezing weather overnight meant the snow-making machines could work tonight to make more snow. This is good news for skiers.

However, it was not so good when 13 4WD (four wheel drive) vehicles got stuck on a remote mountain road in Central Otago yesterday and had to be rescued today. Thirty-eight people, including two young children, spent the night in their cars when they were caught in a snow storm. They had food and warm clothes so were not in too much danger. One person had an emergency locator beacon and called for help. A helicopter tried unsuccessfully to reach them but, finally, snow cats were successful and brought them down.

Then they were taken back to town by bus but they had to leave their vehicles behind until some warmer weather melts the snow. Usually the road is closed in early June to stop people getting into trouble like this.

About 50 people helped in the rescue at various times. The cost of the rescue is not known.


• freezing weather – below zero
• got stuck – couldn’t move
• remote – a long distance from towns
• emergency locator beacon – has GPS, can send a signal via a satellite
• A snow cat is used on ski fields to make the snow smooth for skiers.

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