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Driving conditions August South Island trip

Echuca, Australia
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Driving conditions August South Island trip

Hi!

My partner and I will be travelling to the South Island from the 18th August - 1st September. We are self driving. Our planned travel route is:

Christchurch – Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs – Greymouth

Greymouth – Franz Josef

Franz Josef – Wanaka

Wanaka – Queenstown

Queenstown – Mt Cook

Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo – Christchurch

I am wondering a couple of things:

- I know there will be snow in some parts as it is winter but do any of the above places experience new snowfall this late in winter?

- Are driving conditions dangerous this time of year? (black ice etc) We will be hiring snow chains for our car

- Is it okay to drive in the early morning? as we have some tours starting mid morning and need to drive to the destination

Any advice or feedback will be greatly appreciated

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Auckland Central...
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1. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

- I know there will be snow in some parts as it is winter but do any of the above places experience new snowfall this late in winter? You are in the middle of winter really, it's when most snow fall occurs - so yes, in most of the places listed above, apart from when you are following the coast.

- Are driving conditions dangerous this time of year? (black ice etc) We will be hiring snow chains for our car - yes, driving conditions are dangerous at this time of the year.

- Is it okay to drive in the early morning? as we have some tours starting mid morning and need to drive to the destination. Yes, however you need to be extra safe.

Queenstown, New...
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2. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

The general rule for winter driving is this.

The roads are frozen at night and need only 1/2 an hour for them to thaw, but even then the roads will still be slightly slippery.

So what you have to lookout for is areas where the road is in the shade most of the day, it places like this the road will not thaw. If these areas are on straight stretches of road, that's no problem. It's when you get areas like this that are on corners that create havoc. You will slide off the road as you turn, that is if you are going too fast.

So in the mornings and after the sun goes down , slow down, especially if there are lots of trees around these create the shady areas.

If you have to put chains on your car?

And especially if you have never driven with chains before, I ask you to ask your self DO YOU REALLY NEED TO DRIVE there. Driving on snow is dangerous for everyone, even the experienced.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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3. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

if you can avoid driving before 10am and after dark you eliminate a lot of the ice concerns. As mentioned, shady bits of road and bridges can remain icy all day long.

It seldom snows on the low elevations of the road, if it does the road is likely to be closed for a few hours and/or overnight. So remain aware of the forecast and the road conditions - …govt.nz/traffic/…south-island.html

You have a nice route planned, enjoy :)

Echuca, Australia
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4. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

Thanks everyone, we will be driving most mornings around 9:00am. only have 1 early morning that is 7:00. I have looked at other options other than driving but we really do need to drive there. That is part of the experience for us :)

New Zealand
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5. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

Perhaps you are best to post your intended itinerary. Planning to drive 7am in August is a faulty planning.

Many regions it doesn't even begin to freeze till 6 or 7 am - so the roads are at their most deadly. Not so bad if staying in a city (with no steep hills), but not smart planning to drive country roads at that time.

Auckland Central...
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6. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

No disrespect intended, but driving most mornings @ 9am in the middle of winter here is asking for trouble.

I have seen vehicles slide off roads of slight bends, the car just couldn't take the corner, this is at midday - ice in New Zealand is lethal - in winter it rains, and then it freezes, it's like driving on a skating rink.

If you have to do it, drive slowly, pull over to let cars past you (so they don't have to speed and subsequently crash) - driving on ice takes a life time to master it's completely different to driving in any other condition.

Echuca, Australia
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7. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

I have rebooked the early tour to the afternoon one that starts at 2:00pm so there is plenty of time for us to drive. I am a little nervous now about driving in winter but we will just need to be extra careful

Thanks everyone

Jess

Queenstown, New...
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8. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

There is no need to be nervous, that makes the situation even worse.

Just drive slower , think about what you are doing and be gentle on the brakes and steering wheel and you will have no problems.

New Zealand
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9. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

Where wre you driving to for the 2pm tour?

Some regions are far less affected than others - perhaps we are alarming you for no reason.

Echuca, Australia
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10. Re: Driving conditions August South Island trip

Thanks for driving tips, we are driving from Hanmer Springs to Greymouth and our caving tour in Greymouth starts at 2:00pm