Snow was reported by the lighthouse keeper at Cape
Maria van Diemen at the top of the North Island.
In Auckland, snow fell in many
suburbs just before dawn on 27 July. Five cm of snow lay on the summit
of Mt Eden, while the Bombay hills shone white for most of the morning.
It snowed in Gisborne and
snow lay 15 cm deep in Masterton, where the town clock was stopped at 2.20am by the weight of snow on its hands.
The Paremata harbour had eight hectares of ice.
Further south the snow was heavier.
Snow cut off Banks Peninsula from Christchurch for a time, and lay 30
cm deep in Akaroa.
Staff at the radio masts at Highcliffs, on the Otago Peninsula, were completely cut off and starving. A rescue mission was launched by one of Shackleton's former team, using Shackleton's sled, borrowed from the Otago Museum.
Rival Dunedin businesses had snowballing contests.
Photo from the Alexander Turnbull Library Collection
Everytime it snows motorists get stuck on the Rimutaka Hill.
Barring motorists who are driving because of some emergency situation, the general rule of thumb is: if snow is forecast down to 700 metres, or lower, motorists should use the Wairarapa train, as there is a strong possibility the Rimutaka Hill will close.
Snow down to 400 metres was forecast for the Tararua Ranges by the MetService at least two days in advance.
I watched with increasing concern initial reports on Twitter - later confirmed by other media - that the 5.33pm Wairarapa train last night had derailed just out of the Maymorn tunnel.
Train driver Adam Ford, still inside his mud-covered engine, told
The Dominion Post at the scene last night: "I came into the tunnel and
I could not see out the other end. It was a sea of mud. The portal was
completely blocked. We slammed into it and slid off the tracks."
Six other carriages on the 5.33pm service between Wellington and Wairarapa stayed on the tracks but were stranded in the tunnel.
were stuck inside for more than two hours before being moved to the
rear three carriages, which were pulled to Upper Hutt station by a
I'm not a Wairarapa train commuter at the moment but I have plenty of experience of reaching home at 9.30 pm or later because of incidents - some weather related, most mechnical - affecting the Wairarapa train.
I recall a perilous trip in a small minibus over the Rimutaka Hill in similar conditions to last night after a slip blocked the line at Maymorn. After waiting for a couple of hours at Upper Hutt station while arrangements were made, we were treated to a rather frightening ride - a howling gale, torrential rain and slips everywhere.
Wairarapa commuters are a phlegmatic lot. There's no point in getting wound up because you're missing a family birthday/meeting, etc. They just accept the train's stuck and that's that.
I was woken this morning at 5.06 am by a text from KiwiRail to say that there would be no trains, nor substitute buses. For once KiwiRail was being proactive and sent out a text in time to allow commuters to make arrangements to travel by car.
Some Martinborough commuters have attempted to travel by car but have been caught by floodwaters from the Ruamahunga River.
For most of the time the train service is reasonably reliable, but there are times - such as today - when it is wiser to work from home or take the day off.
Those of you who checked the Met Service site to see just how much rain/wind/plagues of locusts, etc, we were experiencing over the weekend may have noticed a large red exclamation mark and no weather information.
The Met Service told me that the automatic weather station at East Taratahi, which normally provides hour by hour readings, is broken and they are unsure when it will be fixed.
Those of you in the rural heartland who have rain gauges will be much better informed.