It hasn’t been the best start to the winter season in New Zealand. There hasn’t been that much new snow, there’s been several on-mountain accidents, and it seems like more and more travelers have been changing their plans to head to South America instead. Perhaps that’s all about to change as a major storm is absolutely crushing the Kiwi Nation at present.
For almost a week, New Zealanders have been in full-on blizzard type conditions. Many ski areas have been forced to close, and schools, highways, and all other forms of travel have been forced to shut down for a bit, especially with the many traffic lights out of commission and power outages.
Not all resorts have been forced to close for the storm, but those with the ability to open have only been able to keep their most protected lifts spinning for the public. Of particular note is the several cm’s of new snow that’s fallen in Queenstown, the epicenter of New Zealand adventuring and home to several nearby ski resorts and heli-ski operations. They almost never get snow in the town, but when they do, apparently, that’s the time to be there!
A little farther to the north, Lake Wanaka tourism officials are calling this storm the nastiest disturbance to ravage New Zealand in the last 50 years. They also shared that it was still dumping in town Tuesday, and that driving on any nearby roads was both sketchy and treacherous. The police are fully telling people to stay at home and off the roads. New Zealand is not used to getting snow down to sea level, which means the whole country is truly getting dumped on. Even the capital city of Wellington, in the North Island, is experiencing their largest snowfall in the past 40 years.
One of our own, Squaw Valley local and U.S. Ski Team member, Julia Mancuso, who’s training in New Zealand wrote ,“It just keeps snowing down here in New Zealand,” on her Facebook page regarding the storm. She continued, “It normally just snows on the mountains, but this storm is bring us snow everywhere! They always say big storms are coming… this time it’s the real deal. I hope it clears soon, ’cause I am getting stir crazy!”
The Winter Games of New Zealand have been heavily impacted due to this storm. Strong winds have canceled portions of the event for the past few days, and organizers are hoping that by Tuesday morning, things will have cleared up enough to continue the event.