A Fulton Hogan truck ploughs snow in Taieri Rd this morning.
© Stephen Jaquiery
A Fulton Hogan truck ploughs snow in Taieri Rd this morning.
Flights were cancelled, highways shut and essential services disrupted as an Antarctic polar blast swept New Zealand on Tuesday, bringing heavy snow, powerful waves and icy temperatures.

The North Island capital city of Wellington was lashed by the worst tidal storms in years, with authorities asking some coastal residents to be ready to evacuate, as large swells were forecast over the next 24 hours.

"Those people whose homes have been impacted by past swell and storm events should be prepared for these potential impacts again," regional emergency authorities said in a website statement.



A state of emergency was declared for southern and eastern areas of Wellington. Dozens of flights and ferry services were cancelled, and schools shut.

Hailstorms were reported earlier in the day in Wellington, where the cold winds brought a blanket of snow, as in other South Island cities such as Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.

Motorists were warned to take extra care against driving hazards created by the snow and high winds.

Coronet Peak at about 10am on Tuesday.
© NZSki
Coronet Peak at about 10am on Tuesday.