As New Zealand Gets Blasted By Blizzards, Reactions Are Mixed

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While people living throughout the snow-laden lands of the northern U.S. and Canada are used to dealing with several inches of snow at a time — Canada alone spends an astronomical $1 billion every year on snow removal services — many of those living in temperate New Zealand aren’t.

So when New Zealand recently got hit by heavy snows, freezing rain and blustering winds, many kiwis weren’t quite prepared for such a severe onset of winter.

According to a June 18 Radio New Zealand report, the winter blast has closed roads and schools, caused power outages, disrupted flights in and out of Queenstown Airport, and caused flooding throughout the South Island. As many as 30 centimeters of snow fell, visibility was limited, and winds reached 70 km/h.

“There’s just snow everywhere,” said Reuben Mama, who got stuck on a bus trip that had been traveling from Christchurch to Wanaka said. “It hasn’t stopped falling for the last four or so hours. It’s pretty crazy stuff, really. I wasn’t expecting that when I left Christchurch this morning.”

For the country’s farmers, the blizzard made life difficult. Throughout parts of Central Otago, farmers battled against freezing conditions and waded through endless snow drifts to feed their livestock, reported New Zealand’s 3 News.

However, not everyone is upset to see snow covering the ground. On Friday, June 19, some 9,000 people braved the cold to attend the 41st Queenstown Winter Festival, which featured plenty of musical performances and a fireworks show. Even Queenstown Mayor Vanessa van Uden and Prime Minister John Key turned up for the event to deliver opening remarks, according to theĀ Otago Daily Times.

Winter Festival director Lisa Buckingham said this was the “perfect weather” for the event, and credits the snow for drawing a crowd that was “certainly one of the biggest ever.” The festival, which runs through June 28, is projected to bring in 45,000 visitors and residents.

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