Snow warning for Desert Road

A significant amount of snow is expected to fall in the Central North Island today. Images: Daniel Hines/SunLive

A significant amount of snow is expected in the Central North Island today and a snow warning is in force for the Desert Road.

The MetService says significant amounts of snow are expected to affect the road on today.

"Between 2pm and 9pm, expect 5 to 10cm of snow to settle on the road above 800 metres,with lesser amounts down to 600 metres."

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is encouraging motorists to expect winter driving conditions on the Desert Road.

Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says with additional traffic on the roads due to the school holidays and the opening of the Whakapapa ski field (the Tūroa ski field is scheduled to open Saturday on Mt Ruapehu), motorists are asked to take care.

“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 slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.”

State Highways 4, 46, 47 and 49, as well as State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō, and the Napier-Taihape Road may also be affected by snow and ice.

Cara says motorists can prepare by ensuring 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.”

Motorists can visit Waka Kotahi’s Journey Planner website ( for up to date information on road closures, detours, road works, traffic and delays.

Waka Kotahi’s website contains more easy tips for safe winter driving:

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use 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.

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

Phone: 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)

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