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Desert Road snow forecast prompts NZTA warning

Snow is forecast for the Desert Road from about 3pm today until 1pm tomorow. File photo.

Motorists travelling through Tongariro National Park are being warned to plan ahead and expect winter driving conditions.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport's Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says the MetService is forecasting snow in the area around the Desert Road from around 3pm today through until about 1pm tomorrow.

“We encourage drivers to be prepared for icy conditions and snow. Road closures are likely.

“Plan ahead and allow extra time for your journeys and drive to the road and weather conditions. Maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front, and to slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.”

Cara also asks motorists to ensure their vehicles are safe, roadworthy and well equipped for winter driving.

“Make sure you have a safe spare tyre, your lights, brakes and windscreen-wipers are all working, and you have a clean windscreen inside and out.

"Ensure your cell phone is well charged and carry a car phone charger or power bank. Blankets, snacks and bottles of water are also a good idea, in case of an emergency or breakdown.”

With gusts of between 65km/h and 75km/h also forecast in exposed areas tomorrow, high sided vehicles and motorcycles should take extra care.

Waka Kotahi’s website contains more easy tips for safe winter driving: nzta.govt.nz/winterjourneys

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
  • Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness up-to-date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out, check tyre treads to ensure good grip.
  • If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.
  • Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.
  • Driving on roads that are exposed to snow and ice can be treacherous, so slow down and drive to the conditions, not the allowable/legal speed limit. Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Be prepared when travelling in case of delays on the road, particularly in alpine conditions. Make sure you have warm clothes/food/water/charged mobile phone. In an emergency, phone 111. Bear in mind some parts of the highway have no cell coverage.
  • Learn about winter driving, including how to get your vehicle ready and if you are driving in an area where chains may be needed, practise putting them on before you go so you are not caught out. https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/driving-safely/winter-driving/

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with:

Phone: 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)

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