White out in Wellington, five years on
When snow fell in downtown Wellington in July 2011, residents thought they had seen it all.
But only a couple of weeks later, the city ground to a halt when a ‘‘once-in-a-lifetime’’ polar blast came ripping through.
On July 25 that year, snow fell on the hills right across the region, including 10cm on the Rimutaka Hill and small snow flurries on The Terrace and in Wellington’s CBD. Temperatures plunged close to zero.
In Christchurch, the heaviest snowfalls were recorded in 16 years.
But MetService predicted another big freeze was coming and when it did, it hit hard.
August 14, 2011, will live long in the memories of Wellingtonians, who endured power cuts, road closures, public transport interruptions and treacherous roads.
It was the most severe storm to strike the capital since 1976.
Some gnashed their teeth at the problems the snow brought, while others revelled in it.
Snowboards became the norm on places like Colonial Knob and the hills above Wainuiomata.
Rimutaka Hill Road and many other stretches of state highways and local roads were shut, keeping people either at work or trapped at home.
Schools across the region were shut, cars were abandoned in the hill suburbs, and 3000 homes in Tawa lost power.
Flights were cancelled out of Wellington, and demand for power peaked at 6500 megawatts at 9am, 500mw more than for the same day in 2010.
Public servant Adrian Jurke planned to use his alpine gear in the hills above Khandallah.
‘‘It’s the only time in my life I’m going to be able to say I skiied Mt Kaukau,’’ he said.
The high peaked at 6.8 degrees Celsius in the region, with the low hovering about 3C, although it felt much colder.
MEMORIES OF SNOW
Aleisha Rouse recalled it being ‘‘crazy’’ watching snow fall on Titahi Bay beach.
Dawn brought a winter wonderland to Titahi Bay, another Porirua resident, Kelly, said.
‘‘It was a world transformed in our garden, with cabbage trees with snowy topknots.’’
Tabitha Woods posted a photo of her sons barely containing their glee at the snow in the back- Betty-Ann yard of their home in Timberlea, Upper Hutt.
Rika Hosking said there was a lot of excitement in her Ascot Park neighbourhood.
‘‘It was awesome, walking up Conclusion St and seeing adults and kids out enjoying the snow.’’
Snowy scenes in Porirua and Tawa on August 14, 2011.