Heavy snow is expected to fall on parts of the South Island this weekend as an “intense” front moves across the country.

The MetService today issued a rare November snow warning for the Canterbury high country between Porters Pass and Lake Ohau.

Heavy rain is forecast to turn to snow tonight above 600m as cooler air pushes in from the far south.

The MetService warned that up to 50cm of snow was expected to fall to between 800-500m from this evening until tomorrow morning. Forecasters are warning more than 1m of snow was possible at higher elevations.

Arthurs and Porters Passes were expected to be affected by the deteriorating weather conditions.

The forecaster has issued a swathe of heavy rain warnings and watches as the front crosses the country. ringing heavy rain to central New Zealand.

“Generally the word is changeable,” said forecaster Hannah Moes.

Warnings and watches are in force for large downfalls in the top of the South Island, lower North Island, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.


The most intense falls were reserved for the Tararua Ranges where up to 150mm of rain was expected by this afternoon.

People have been warned to watch for rivers and streams rapidly rising and slips.

There was also a possibility of overnight thunderstorms across Northland and a lesser chance over North Auckland, Taranaki and the top of the South Island.

Road snowfall warnings have been issued for Arthur’s and Porters Pass from 9pm. Up to 15 cm of snow was expected to coat the summit roads with lesser amounts down to 600 m.

Moes said the wet weather would generally clear tomorrow giving a brief respite before a fresh front hit the country Sunday night.

“It will be fine for most on Sunday as a narrow band of high pressure brings a brief interlude between the weather systems,” said Moes.