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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is encouraging motorists to expect winter driving conditions on State Highway 1/Desert Road and State Highway 5 Napier-Taupo Road overnight and tomorrow.


Tue 29 June, 8.30am update

State Highway 1 Desert Road is closed between Rangipo and Waiouru due to snow. A detour is in place (see below). Please follow the detour and allow at least an extra 45 minutes travel time.

Detour info: For northbound traffic use State Highway 49, right onto State Highway 4, right onto State Highway 47, right onto State Highway 46 and then left back onto SH1. Reverse for southbound.

State Highway 1 Desert Road this morning.


Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says the Metservice is forecasting snow showers on the higher parts of the Desert Road this evening through until around 7am tomorrow (Tuesday 29 June), with significant snow expected from late Tuesday morning until Tuesday evening.

“Snow showers may also affect the summit area on the Napier-Taupo Road tomorrow between 6am and noon.

“Motorists are asked to take care. We encourage drivers to be prepared for winter driving conditions, including snow and ice.

“Road closures are possible. Plan ahead, 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, slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.

As the direction of the wind is expected to change tomorrow morning, other state highways in the area may also be affected, so continue to check for the latest road conditions across the Central Plateau.

Ms Lauder says motorists can prepare by ensuring their vehicles are safe, roadworthy and well equipped.

“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 the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner website (journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link)) for up to date information on road closures, detours, road works, traffic and delays.

The Waka Kotahi website contains more easy tips for safe driving in winter conditions: nzta.govt.nz/winterjourneys(external link)

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey – use journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link) 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/(external link)

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

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