Polar blast sweeps the country

14 August 2011

Snow in the Upper Hutt suburb of Pinehaven (Wikimedia Commons)

New Zealand’s heaviest snowfall in decades closed airports and schools, forced the cancellation of buses and trains, caused electricity blackouts and cut off many communities across the country. Weather watchers described the storm as ‘a once in a lifetime event’.

While the South Island was hardest hit, with widespread power outages and numerous school, airport and road closures, normally milder areas of the North Island were also severely affected. Power was cut to around 4000 homes in South Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatū and Wairarapa.

Wellington saw snow down to sea level for the first time since 1976. Even Auckland’s CBD got a dusting – for the first time since the 1930s. 

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