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New Zealand travel hit by snow chaos

New Zealand travel hit by snow chaos

Visitors to the North Island of New Zealand have been hit be travel chaos following the first snow fall there in 40 years.

The one-in-a-lifetime cold snap is expected to last until Wednesday, according to local forecasters, with airports closed, roads blocked at electricity cut in some areas.

Civil defence chief Rian Van Schalkwyk warned: “People should prepare for the worst, which means making sure they are reading in the event that they cannot leave home and may be without electricity and other amenities.”

Passengers in Christchurch and Dunedin were stranded after flights were grounded.

One flight which did begin its journey from Palmerston North to Wellington was struck by lightning. None of the 16 people on board were injured and the Air New Zealand plane landed without incident.

Queenstown Airport, which serves tourists on skiing and sight-seeing holidays in the same island, also closed earlier but has since reopened.

“If you are visiting remote areas of New Zealand, ensure that your journey details are made known to local authorities or friends/relatives before setting out,” advised a statement from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

“Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous, especially in winter.”